Indole-3-acetic acid synthesized through the indole-3-pyruvate pathway promotes Candida tropicalis biofilm formation

Masaru Miyagi, Rachel Wilson, Daisuke Saigusa, Keiko Umeda, Reina Saijo, Christopher L. Hager, Yuejin Li, Thomas McCormick, Mahmoud A. Ghannoum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We previously found that the elevated abundance of the fungus Candida tropicalis is positively correlated with the bacteria Escherichia coli and Serratia marcescens in Crohn’s disease patients and the three pathogens, when co-cultured, form a robust mixed-species biofilm. The finding suggests that these three pathogens communicate and promote biofilm formation, possibly through secretion of small signaling molecules. To identify candidate signaling molecules, we carried out a metabolomic analysis of the single-species and triple-species cultures of the three pathogens. This analysis identified 15 metabolites that were highly increased in the triple-species culture. One highly induced metabolite was indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), which has been shown to induce filamentation of certain fungi. We thus tested the effect of IAA on biofilm formation of C. tropicalis and demonstrated that IAA promotes biofilm formation of C. tropicalis. Then, we carried out isotope tracing experiments using 13C-labeled-tryptophan as a precursor to uncover the biosynthesis pathway of IAA in C. tropicalis. The results indicated that C. tropicalis synthesizes IAA through the indole-3-pyruvate pathway. Further studies using inhibitors of the indole-3-pyruvate pathway are warranted to decipher the mechanisms by which IAA influences biofilm formation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0244246
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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