Connolly LA, Riccombeni A, Grózer Z, Holland LM, Lynch DB, Andes DR, Gácser A, Butler G
Efg1 (a member of the APSES family) is an important regulator of hyphal growth and of the white-to-opaque transition in Candida albicans and very closely related species. We show that in Candida parapsilosis Efg1 is a major regulator of a different morphological switch at the colony level, from a concentric to smooth morphology. The rate of switching is at least 20-fold increased in an efg1 knockout relative to wild type. Efg1 deletion strains also have reduced biofilm formation, attenuated virulence in an insect model, and increased sensitivity to SDS and caspofungin. Biofilm reduction is more dramatic in in vitro than in in vivo models. An Efg1 paralogue (Efh1) is restricted to Candida species, and does not regulate concentric-smooth phenotype switching, biofilm formation or stress response. We used ChIP-seq to identify the Efg1 regulon. A total of 931 promoter regions bound by Efg1 are highly enriched for transcription factors and regulatory proteins. Efg1 also binds to its own promoter, and negatively regulates its expression. Efg1 targets are enriched in binding sites for 93 additional transcription factors, including Ndt80. Our analysis suggests that Efg1 has an ancient role as regulator of development in fungi, and is central to several regulatory networks.