Candida albicans, a diploid polymorphic fungus, has evolved a unique heritable epigenetic program that enables reversible phenotypic switching between two cell types, referred to as "white" and "opaque". These cell types are established and maintained by distinct transcriptional programs that lead to differences in metabolic preferences, mating competencies, cellular morphologies, responses to environmental signals, interactions with the host innate immune system, and expression of approximately 20% of genes in the genome. Transcription factors (defined as sequence specific DNA-binding proteins) that regulate the establishment and heritable maintenance of the white and opaque cell types have been a primary focus of investigation in the field; however, other factors that impact chromatin accessibility, such as histone modifying enzymes, chromatin remodelers, and histone chaperone complexes, also modulate the dynamics of the white-opaque switch and have been much less studied to date. Overall, the white-opaque switch represents an attractive and relatively "simple" model system for understanding the logic and regulatory mechanisms by which heritable cell fate decisions are determined in higher eukaryotes. Here we review recent discoveries on the roles of chromatin accessibility in regulating the C. albicans white-opaque phenotypic switch.
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Surprising properties of doped Mott insulators are at the heart of many quantum materials, including transition metal oxides and organic materials. The key to unraveling complex phenomena observed in these systems lies in understanding the interplay of spin and charge degrees of freedom. One of the most debated questions concerns the nature of charge carriers in a background of fluctuating spins. To shed new light on this problem, we suggest a simplified model with mixed dimensionality, where holes move through a Mott insulator unidirectionally while spin exchange interactions are two dimensional. By studying individual holes in this system, we find direct evidence for the formation of mesonic bound states of holons and spinons, connected by a string of displaced spins – a precursor of the spin-charge separation obtained in the 1D limit of the model. Our predictions can be tested using ultracold atoms in a quantum gas microscope, allowing to directly image spinons and holons, and reveal the short-range hidden string order which we predict in this model.