Candida albicans possesses a cyanide-resistant respiratory pathway mediated by alternative oxidase (AOX), which seems to be encoded by a gene family with two members. Cloning and expression of AOX1a, one of the genes encoding alternative oxidase from C. albicans, has previously been reported [Huh and Kang (1999) J. Bacteriol. 181, 4098–4102]. In the present study we report the isolation of another gene coding for alternative oxidase, designated AOX1b. AOX1b contains a continuous open reading frame that encodes a polypeptide consisting of 365 amino acids. Interestingly, AOX1a and AOX1b were found to be located in tandem on one of the chromosomes of C. albicans. The presence of cyanide in the culture medium remarkably retarded the growth of the aox1a/aox1a mutants. The growth of the aox1b/aox1b mutants and the aox1a/aox1a aox1b/aox1b double mutants was almost completely inhibited in the same medium. β-Galactosidase reporter assays indicated that, whereas AOX1a was expressed constitutively, the expression of AOX1b was dependent on growth phase and was induced by treatment with cyanide, antimycin A, H2O2, menadione and paraquat. Growth of the cells in media with non-fermentable carbon sources also enhanced the expression of AOX1b. CaSLN1, which encodes a histidine kinase, seems to be involved in the regulation of AOX expression in C. albicans on the basis of the observation that the activity of cyanide-resistant respiration and the expression level of AOX in the casln1/casln1 mutants were found to be significantly low under normal conditions and slightly increased in the presence of respiratory inhibitors compared with the wild-type strain. Like AOX1a, AOX1b could also be functionally expressed in AOX-deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae and confer cyanide-resistant respiration on the organism.

Abbreviations used: AOX, alternative oxidase; ROS, reactive oxygen species; ORF, open reading frame.

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Author notes

The nucleotide sequence data reported (for AOX1b) has been deposited in the GenBank® database under accession number AF116872.