Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 35887406
Link to DOI – 10.3390/jof8070650
J Fungi (Basel) 2022 Jun; 8(7):
The heterozygous diploid genome of Candida albicans displays frequent genomic rearrangements, in particular loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH) events, which can be seen on all eight chromosomes and affect both laboratory and clinical strains. LOHs, which are often the consequence of DNA damage repair, can be observed upon stresses reminiscent of the host environment, and result in homozygous regions of various sizes depending on the molecular mechanisms at their origins. Recent studies have shed light on the biological importance of these frequent and ubiquitous LOH events in C. albicans. In diploid Saccharomyces cerevisiae, LOH facilitates the passage of recessive beneficial mutations through Haldane’s sieve, allowing rapid evolutionary adaptation. This also appears to be true in C. albicans, where the full potential of an adaptive mutation is often only observed upon LOH, as illustrated in the case of antifungal resistance and niche adaptation. To understand the genome-wide dynamics of LOH events in C. albicans, we constructed a collection of 15 strains, each one carrying a LOH reporter system on a different chromosome arm. This system involves the insertion of two fluorescent marker genes in a neutral genomic region on both homologs, allowing spontaneous LOH events to be detected by monitoring the loss of one of the fluorescent markers using flow cytometry. Using this collection, we observed significant LOH frequency differences between genomic loci in standard laboratory growth conditions; however, we further demonstrated that comparable heterogeneity was also observed for a given genomic locus between independent strains. Additionally, upon exposure to stress, three outcomes could be observed in C. albicans, where individual strains displayed increases, decreases, or no effect of stress in terms of LOH frequency. Our results argue against a general stress response triggering overall genome instability. Indeed, we showed that the heterogeneity of LOH frequency in C. albicans is present at various levels, inter-strain, intra-strain, and inter-chromosomes, suggesting that LOH events may occur stochastically within a cell, though the genetic background potentially impacts genome stability in terms of LOH throughout the genome in both basal and stress conditions. This heterogeneity in terms of genome stability may serve as an important adaptive strategy for the predominantly clonal human opportunistic pathogen C. albicans, by quickly generating a wide spectrum of genetic variation combinations potentially permitting subsistence in a rapidly evolving environment.