The fungus, which caused deadly outbreaks in hospitals and other care facilities, soon alarmed scientists around the world as it bypassed traditional drugs used to treat fungal infections. Since then, the race has been on to better understand the fungus and, hopefully, better control it.
New research from the University of Michigan published in Nature communication, marks a great step forward in understanding C. auris Biology and studies the genetics behind its ability to change from a round yeast shape to a more hair-like, filamentous shape.
“Almost all fungal pathogens, from valley fever to yeast infections, show morphological changes and seem to link virulence processes with the change in shape,” said Teresa O’Meara, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Medical Faculty University of Michigan. “But people hadn’t found out whether Candida auris could do it or how. “
It is noteworthy that the mushroom has now been found on all inhabited continents and that different variants and morphologies have emerged in different parts of the world. Determining the genetics behind these variants is key to determining how form and disease are related. But study until now C. auris‘-Gene was incredibly difficult.
“It is well known in the art that it is difficult to genetically manipulate this organism,” said Darian Santana, a Ph.D. Student in O’Meara’s laboratory and lead author of the work. “I think a lot of researchers avoid it or spend a lot of time and energy getting something up and running.”
He and O’Meara developed their own genetic tools using a DNA-based CRISPR-Cas9 technique and a bacterium that commonly infects plants.
The team used the bacteria ‘s ability to infect fungi and inserted DNA into the genome of C. auris. Screening the genetically modified cells for cells with different morphologies or structures provided clues as to which genes they controlled. The team is the first to succeed in these methods C. aurissays Santana.
“The genes are not only important for morphology, but also for virulence and drug resistance,” says O’Meara. Their work is an important proof of concept for C. auris research that they hope will help the research community studying the deadly pathogen more quickly evaluate strains and look for the genetics of why some are pathogenic or are more resistant to drugs than others.
“The things you learn about one strain don’t necessarily apply to another, so being able to genetically manipulate mushrooms from different backgrounds is important,” she added.
O’Meara and Santana hope to next uncover the genetic factors behind it C. auris’ Ability to spread as well on hospital and other surfaces.
“As soon as a patient is found to be infected, the entire room is wiped with infection prevention. Generally with Candida auris, you see it ends up everywhere – on nurses lanyards, temperature probes, bedding, etc. Removal is quite a large process, and this enhanced transferability seems somewhat unique Candida auris“Said Santana.
Materials provided by Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan. Originally written by Kelly Malcom. Note: the content is editable in terms of style and length.