Fever is a universal response to infection, and opportunistic pathogens such as Candida albicans have evolved complex circuitry to sense and respond to heat. Here we harness RNA-seq and ChIP-seq to discover that the heat shock transcription factor, Hsf1, binds distinct motifs in nucleosome-depleted promoter regions to regulate heat shock genes and genes involved in virulence in C. albicans. Consequently, heat shock increases C. albicans host cell adhesion, damage and virulence. Hsf1 activation depends upon the molecular chaperone Hsp90 under basal and heat shock conditions, but the effects are opposite and in part controlled at the level of Hsf1 expression and DNA binding. Finally, we demonstrate that Hsp90 regulates global transcription programs by modulating nucleosome levels at promoters of stress-responsive genes. Thus, we describe a mechanism by which C. albicans responds to temperature via Hsf1 and Hsp90 to orchestrate gene expression and chromatin architecture, thereby enabling thermal adaptation and virulence.
Bibliographical noteWe thank Karim Gharbi and Urmi Trivedi for their assistance with RNA sequencing, carried out in the GenePool genomics facility (University of Edinburgh). We also thank Susan Fairley and Eduardo De Paiva Alves (Centre for Genome Enabled Biology and Medicine, University of Aberdeen) for help with the initial bioinformatics analysis. We thank Aaron Mitchell for kindly providing the ALS3 mutant, Julian Naglik for the gift of TR146 cells, and Jon Richardson for technical assistance. We thank the Genomics and Bioinformatics core of the Faculty of Health Sciences for Next Generation Sequencing and Bioinformatics support, the Information and Communication Technology Office at the University of Macau for providing access to a High Performance Computer and Jacky Chan and William Pang for their expert support on the High Performance Computer. Finally, we thank Amanda Veri for generating CaLC2928. M.D.L. is supported by a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship (Wellcome Trust 096072), R.A.F. by a Wellcome Trust-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Postdoctoral Fellowship, L.E.C. by a Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics and Infectious Disease and by Canadian Institutes of Health Research Grants MOP-119520 and MOP-86452, A.J. P.B. was supported by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/F00513X/1) and by the European Research Council (ERC-2009-AdG-249793-STRIFE), KHW is supported by the Science and Technology Development Fund of Macau S.A.R (FDCT) (085/2014/A2) and the Research and Development Administrative Office of the University of Macau (SRG2014-00003-FHS) and R.T.W. by the Burroughs Wellcome fund and NIH R15AO094406.
RNA-sequencing data sets are available at ArrayExpress (www.ebi.ac.uk) under accession code E-MTAB-4075. ChIP-seq data sets are available at the NCBI SRA database (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) under accession code SRP071687. The authors declare that all other data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article and its supplementary information files, or from the corresponding author upon request.