Microb Pathog. 2021 Mar 6:104825. doi: 10.1016/j.micpath.2021.104825. Online ahead of print.
The study aimed to induce the white-opaque-gray tri-stable transformation in clinical C. albicans and to explore their potential pathogenicity. Sixty-four clinical strains were used to induce the white, opaque and gray cells of C. albicans. Secreted aspartyl proteinases (Sap) activity of the three phenotypes was then measured, and a VVC animal model was constructed. Of the 64 clinical strains, only 3 strains successfully underwent white-gray-opaque tri-stable transformation, and the three strains all belonged to MTL homozygous strains. Pz values in white, opaque and gray phenotypes were 0.834 ± 0.012, 0.707 ± 0.036, and 0.628 ± 0.002, respectively, which indicated that the cells with gray phenotype had higher Sap activity. After inoculation of different fungal suspension, the fungal colony count in descending order was as follows: gray phenotype, opaque phenotype and white phenotype. After treated with fluconazole for 3 days or 10 days, the fungal colony counts were significantly decreased compared with that before treatment (P < 0.05). The Sap activity and pathogenicity of gray cells in C. albicans were the strongest, followed by opaque cells and white cells. Additionally, white, gray and opaque phenotypic cells were all susceptible to fluconazole.