The Huang laboratory focuses on studying the molecular mechanisms of morphogenesis, pathogenesis and sexual reproduction in Candida albicans, a major fungal pathogen in humans. C. albicans causes a number of infections in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised hosts. C. albicans is a diploid fungus that undergoes reversible phenotypic transition under many conditions including high temperature, neutral pH, high CO2 concentration and hypoxia. It has been proven that the ability to undergo phenotypic transition is relevant to its virulence. The fundamental questions we ask are: Why does C. albicans undergo phenotypic switching? Or what is the biological significance of phenotypic switching? What are the mechanisms of phenotypic switching? Our current research focuses on three aspects:
(1) Gene circuits involved in governing morphogenesis and pathogenesis in C. albicans;
(2) Effect of host microenvironmental cues on the induction of morphogenesis;
(3) Host-C. albicans pathogenic interactions.