The action of ten secreted aspartic proteases of pathogenic yeast Candida albicans on major human salivary antimicrobial peptide, histatin 5

  • Oliwia Bochenska
  • Maria Rapala-Kozik
  • Natalia Wolak
  • Wataru Aoki
  • Mitsuyoshi Ueda
  • Andrzej Kozik


Candida albicans, belonging to the most common fungal pathogens of humans, exploits many virulence factors to infect the host, of which the most important is a family of ten secreted aspartic proteases (Saps) that cleave numerous peptides and proteins, often deregulating the host’s biochemical homeostasis. It was recently shown that C. albicans cells can inactivate histatin5 (His5), a salivary histidine-rich anticandidal peptide, through the hydrolytic action of Saps. However, the current data on this subject are incomplete as only four out of ten Saps have been studied with respect to hydrolytic processing of His5 (Sap2, Sap5, Sap9-10). The aim of the study was to investigate the action of all Saps on His5 and to characterize this process in terms of peptide chemistry.

It was shown that His5 was degraded by seven out of ten Saps (Sap1-4, Sap7-9) over a broad range of pH. The cleavage rate decreased in an order of Sap2>Sap9>Sap3>Sap7>Sap4>Sap1>Sap8. The degradation profiles for Sap2 and Sap9 were similar to those previously reported; however, in contrast to the previous study, Sap10 was shown to be unable to cleave His5. On a long-time scale, the peptide was completely degraded and lost its antimicrobial potential but after a short period of Sap treatment several shorter peptides (His1-13, His1-17, His1-21) that still decreased fungal survival were released.

The results, presented hereby, provide extended characteristics of the action of C. albicans extracellular proteases on His5. Our study contribute to deepening the knowledge on the interactions between fungal pathogens and the human host.