Special Viewpoints

Jekyll and Hyde in the Microbial World

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Science  26 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5701, pp. 1509-1511
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104677

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Fungi are nonmotile organisms that obtain carbon from compounds in their immediate surroundings. Confronted with nutrient limitation, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae undergoes a dimorphic transition, switching from spherical cells to filaments of adherent, elongated cells that can invade the substratum. A complex web of sensing mechanisms and cooperation among signaling networks (including a mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade, cyclic adenosine monophosphate–dependent protein kinase, and 5′–adenosine monophosphate–activated protein kinase) elicits the appropriate changes in physiology, cell cycle progression, cell polarity, and gene expression to achieve this differentiation. Highly related signaling processes control filamentation and virulence of many human fungal pathogens.

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