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Candida albicans, the primary etiology of human mycoses, is well-adapted to catabolize proline to obtain energy to initiate morphological switching (yeast to hyphal) and for growth. We report that put1-/- and put2-/- strains, carrying defective Proline UTilization genes, display remarkable proline sensitivity with put2-/- mutants being hypersensitive due to the accumulation of the toxic intermediate pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C), which inhibits mitochondrial respiration. The put1-/- and put2-/- mutations attenuate virulence in Drosophila and murine candidemia models and decrease survival in human neutrophils and whole blood. Using intravital 2-photon microscopy and label-free non-linear imaging, we visualized the initial stages of C. albicans cells infecting a kidney in real-time, directly deep in the tissue of a living mouse, and observed morphological switching of wildtype but not of put2-/- cells. Multiple members of the Candida species complex, including C. auris, are capable of using proline as a sole energy source. Our results indicate that a tailored proline metabolic network tuned to the mammalian host environment is a key feature of opportunistic fungal pathogens.

Original publication




Journal article


PLOS Pathogens


Public Library of Science (PLoS)

Publication Date





e1011677 - e1011677