A E- GEOD-50881 Gene Chip Assay --- Candida albicans response to spaceflight (NASA STS-115)

  • candida albicans
  • fungal
  • pathogen

A E- GEOD-50881 Gene Chip Assay --- Candida albicans response to spaceflight (NASA STS-115)

This study presents the first global transcriptional profiling and phenotypic characterization of the major human opportunistic fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, grown in spaceflight conditions. Microarray analysis revealed that C. albicans subjected to short-term spaceflight culture differentially regulated 454 genes compared to synchronous ground controls, which represented 8.4% of the analyzed ORFs. Spaceflight-cultured C. albicans induced genes involved in cell aggregation (similar to flocculation), which was validated by microscopic and flow cytometry analysis. We also observed enhanced random budding of spaceflight-cultured cells as opposed to more normal bipolar budding patterns for ground samples, in accordance with the gene expression data. Furthermore, genes involved in antifungal agent and stress resistance were differentially regulated in spaceflight, including induction of ABC transporters and members of the major facilitator family, downregulation of ergosterol-encoding genes, and upregulation of genes involved in oxidative stress resistance. Finally, downregulation of genes involved in the actin cytoskeleton was observed. Interestingly, the transcriptional regulator Cap1 and over 30% of the Cap1 regulon was differentially expressed in spaceflight-cultured C. albicans. A potential role for Cap1 in the spaceflight response of C. albicans is suggested, as this regulator is involved in random budding, cell aggregation, actin cytoskeleton, and oxidative stress resistance; all related to observed spaceflight-associated changes of C. albicans. While culture of C. albicans in microgravity potentiates a global change in gene expression that could induce a virulence-related phenotype, no increased virulence in a murine intraperitoneal (i.p.) infection model was observed. This study represents an important basis for the assessment of the risk that commensal flora could play during spaceflight missions. Furthermore, since the low fluid-shear environment of microgravity is relevant to physical forces encountered by pathogens during the infection process, insights gained from this study could identify novel infectious disease mechanisms, with downstream benefits for the general public. Cells were grown for 24 hours on the space shuttle or as ground-based controls, preserved in RNALater, and stored at -80C. Four samples of each flight- and ground-based controls were harvested for microarray analysis. GAP is Group Activation Pack and each GAP contains 8 FPAs. The numbers represent the # assigned to the particular GAP and the number assigned to the specific FPA (1-8) within the indicated GAP. The same hardware is used for the flight samples and the ground samples.


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