Farnesol, a Fungal Quorum-Sensing Molecule Triggers Candida Albicans Morphological Changes by Downregulating the Expression of Different Secreted Aspartyl Proteinase Genes

Nadège Décanis 1, Neftaha Tazi 1, Alexandra Correia 2, Manuel Vilanova 3, 4, Mahmoud Rouabhia 1, *
1 Groupe de Recherche en Écologie Buccale, Faculté de Médecine Dentaire, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, G1V 0A6, Canada
2 Centro de Biologia Molecular e Ambiental (CMBA), Departamento de Biologia, Universidade do Minho, Campus de Gualtar, Braga, Portugal
3 Laboratório de Imunologia Mário Arala Chaves, ICBAS - Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas de Abel Salazar-Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal
4 IBMC – Instituto de Biologia Celular e Molecular, Porto, Portugal

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© Décanis et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

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* Address correspondence to this author at the Faculté de Médecine Dentaire, Pavillon de Médecine Dentaire, Local 1728, Université Laval, 2420 rue de la Terrasse, Québec, Québec, Canada G1V 0A6, Ext. 16321; Tel: (418) 656-2131; Fax: (418) 656-2861; E-mail:


The aim of this study was to determine the effect of exogenous farnesol in yeast-to-hyphae morphogenesis, and Saps (2, 4, 5 and 6) mRNA expressions by a Candida strain that does not produce endogenous farnesol. C. albicans was cultured in the absence and presence of farnesol at various concentrations (10, 100, and 300 µM), in proteinase induction medium, and then used to determine yeast-to- hyphae changes, Candida ultrastructure and to determine Saps 2, 4, 5 and 6 expressions using q-TR-PCR and ELISA (for Sap2). Data demonstrated that farnesol greatly reduced the yeast-to-hyphae morphogenesis of a Candida strain that does not produce endogenous farnesol. Farnesol induced several ultrastructural alterations, including changes in the cell-wall shape, a visible disconnection between the cell wall and cytoplasm with an electron-lucent zone between them, and the presence of electron-dense vacuoles. Tested on gene expressions, farnesol was able to significantly (p < 0.01) decrease Sap2 secretion and mRNA expression. Farnesol downregulated also Sap4-6 mRNA expression. These results demonstrated for the first time that farnesol modules Candida morphogenesis through a downregulation of Saps 2, 4, 5 and 6 expressions. Overall these data point to the potential use of farnesol as an antifungal molecule

Keywords: Candida, farnesol, transition, saps.