Protein homeostasis is critical for proliferation and viability of all organisms. For Candida albicans, protein homeostasis also modulates the transition between yeast and filamentous forms, which is critical for virulence. A key regulator of morphogenesis is the molecular chaperone Hsp90, which mediates proteostasis under physiological and stress conditions. Hsp90 regulates morphogenesis by repressing cyclic AMP-protein kinase A (cAMP-PKA) signaling, such that inhibition of Hsp90 causes filamentation in the absence of an inducing cue. We explored the effect of perturbation of another facet of protein homeostasis and discovered that morphogenesis is also regulated by the proteasome, a large 33-subunit protein complex consisting of a 20S catalytic core and two 19S regulatory particles, which controls degradation of intracellular proteins. We identified a conserved role of the proteasome in morphogenesis as pharmacological inhibition of the proteasome induced filamentation of C. albicans and the related species Candida dubliniensis, Candida tropicalis, Candida krusei, and Candida parapsilosis For C. albicans, genetic depletion of any of 29 subunits of the 19S or 20S particle induced filamentation. Filaments induced by inhibition of either the proteasome or Hsp90 have shared structural characteristics, such as aberrant nuclear content, and shared genetic dependencies, such as intact cAMP-PKA signaling. Consistent with a functional connection between these facets of protein homeostasis that modulate morphogenesis, we observed that proteasome inhibition results in an accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins that overwhelm Hsp90 function, relieving Hsp90-mediated repression of morphogenesis. Together, our findings provide a mechanism whereby interconnected facets of proteostasis regulate C. albicans morphogenesis.IMPORTANCE Fungi cause life-threatening infections and pose a serious threat to human health as there are very few effective antifungal drugs. Candida albicans is a major human fungal pathogen and cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised individuals. A key trait that enables C. albicans virulence is its ability to transition between yeast and filamentous forms. Understanding the mechanisms regulating this virulence trait can facilitate the development of much-needed, novel therapeutic strategies. A key regulator of morphogenesis is the molecular chaperone Hsp90, which is crucial for proteostasis. Here, we expanded our understanding of how proteostasis regulates fungal morphogenesis and identified the proteasome as a repressor of filamentation in C. albicans and related species. Our work suggests that proteasome inhibition overwhelms Hsp90 function, thereby inducing morphogenesis. This work provides a foundation for understanding the role of the proteasome in fungal virulence and offers potential for targeting the proteasome to disarm fungal pathogens.
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