Comparative genomics of fungal pathogens
Fungal infections constitute an ever-growing and significant medical problem. Diseases caused by such pathogens range from simple toe nail infections, to life-threatening systemic mycoses in patients with impaired immune systems. The molecular mechanisms driving invasion of mammalian hosts by fungal pathogens poses many scientifically challenging problems, which are as yet little understood. Candida glabrata is an emerging pathogen that represents the second most common cause of fungal infection. C. glabrata is evolutionarily closer to non-pathogenic Saccharomyces species than to other pathogen Candida species and uses different virulence mechanisms. Therefore, the problem of elucidating the mechanism for pathogenesis of Candida glabrata, as proposed here, can be approached with an evolutionary perspective by detecting specific adaptations in the C. glabrata genome that may explain why, in contrast to its closest relatives, is able to infect the human host. Here too, we will use functional prediction techniques to produce a list of C. glabrata candidate genes that might be involved in pathogenesis. The present research line will be developed in the context of a recently created consortium (FunPath). This consortium is funded through the ERA-NET Pathogenomics European commission action. Within this consortium, several important experimental groups such us those of Karl Kuchler (Austria) and Christophe d’Enfert (France), among others, are very interested in testing the predictions that arise from our computational analyses.