The environmental challenges imposed onto fungal pathogens require a dynamic metabolic modulation, which relies on activation or repression of critical factors and is essential for the establishment and perpetuation of host infection. Wherefore, to overcome the different host microenvironments, pathogens not only depend on virulence factors but also on metabolic flexibility, which ensures their dynamic response to stress conditions in the host. Here, we evaluate Trichophyton rubrum interaction with keratin from a metabolic perspective. We present information about gene modulation of the dermatophyte during early infection stage after shifting from glucose- to keratin-containing culture media, in relation to its use of glucose as the carbon source. Analyzing T. rubrum transcriptome using high-throughput RNA-sequencing technology, we identified the modulation of essential genes related to nitrogen, fatty acid, ergosterol, and carbohydrate metabolisms, among a myriad of other genes necessary for the growth of T. rubrum in keratinized tissues. Our results provide reliable and critical strategies for adaptation to keratin and confirm that the urea-degrading activity associated with the reduction in disulfide bonds and proteolytic activity facilitated keratin degradation. The global modulation orchestrates the responses that support virulence and the proper adaptation to keratin compared with glucose as the carbon source. The gene expression profiling of the host-pathogen interaction highlights candidate genes involved in fungal adaptation and survival and elucidates the machinery required for the establishment of the initial stages of infection.

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