In the hyphal tip of Candida albicans we have made detailed quantitative measurements of (i) exocyst components, (ii) Rho1, the regulatory subunit of (1,3)-beta-glucan synthase, (iii) Rom2, the specialized guanine-nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) of Rho1, and (iv) actin cortical patches, the sites of endocytosis. We use the resulting data to construct and test a quantitative 3-dimensional model of fungal hyphal growth based on the proposition that vesicles fuse with the hyphal tip at a rate determined by the local density of exocyst components. Enzymes such as (1,3)-beta-glucan synthase thus embedded in the plasma membrane continue to synthesize the cell wall until they are removed by endocytosis. The model successfully predicts the shape and dimensions of the hyphae, provided that endocytosis acts to remove cell wall-synthesizing enzymes at the subapical bands of actin patches. Moreover, a key prediction of the model is that the distribution of the synthase is substantially broader than the area occupied by the exocyst. This prediction is borne out by our quantitative measurements. Thus, although the model highlights detailed issues that require further investigation, in general terms the pattern of tip growth of fungal hyphae can be satisfactorily explained by a simple but quantitative model rooted within the known molecular processes of polarized growth. Moreover, the methodology can be readily adapted to model other forms of polarized growth, such as that which occurs in plant pollen tubes.
- Candida albicans/*growth & development/*metabolism
- Cell Wall/metabolism
- Fungal Proteins/metabolism
- Hyphae/*growth & development/*metabolism
- Models, Biological
- Transport Vesicles/*metabolism