Austin Mottola    email
Institute for Molecular Infection Biology

Prof. Dr. Joachim Morschhäuser (Würzburg)

Promotion Committee:
Prof. Dr. Joachim Morschhäuser (Würzburg)
Dr. J. Christian Pérez (Würzburg)
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Hube (Jena)

Analysis of Candida albicans protein kinases in signaling pathways

The fungus Candida albicans is usally a harmless human commensal. It is, however, an opportunistic pathogen, and invasive infections in immunocompromised patients can be life-threatening. This transition from commensal to pathogen is characterized by a variety of changes which are regulated at all levels, from genetic to post-translational. Kinases are major cellular regulators, exerting effects on gene expression and enzymatic activities which can have a wide range of effects, many of which are relevant to our understanding of how C. albicans survives within the host and how it turns against it as a pathogen. Furthermore, kinases are often good candidates for drug targets, due to the relative ease in developing kinase-specific inhibitors. The goal of my work is to investigate how particular kinases in C. albicans regulate these processes. Phenotypic screens of a library of kinase deletion mutants, wherein mutants are screened for alterations in their response to or growth in different conditions which may be experienced in the host, have identified several kinases as candidates for further investigation. One such kinase is Sak1, which was shown to activate a separate kinase, the essential Snf1. Investigation of this signaling pathway and others through various experimental means will provide much needed insight into the inner workings of a clinically relevant pathogen.