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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2007 Feb;267(1):95-101. Epub 2006 Nov 29.

Closely related dermatophyte species produce different patterns of secreted proteins.

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  • 1Dermatology Service, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Dermatophytes are the most common infectious agents responsible for superficial mycosis in humans and animals. Various species in this group of fungi show overlapping characteristics. We investigated the possibility that closely related dermatophyte species with different behaviours secrete distinct proteins when grown in the same culture medium. Protein patterns from culture filtrates of several strains of the same species were very similar. In contrast, secreted protein profiles from various species were different, and so a specific signature could be associated with each of the six analysed species. In particular, protein patterns were useful to distinguish Trichophyton tonsurans from Trichophyton equinum, which cannot be differentiated by ribosomal DNA sequencing. The secreted proteases Sub2, Sub6 and Sub7 of the subtilisin family, as well as Mep3 and Mep4 of the fungalisin family were identified. SUB6, SUB7, MEP3 and MEP4 genes were cloned and sequenced. Although the protein sequence of each protease was highly conserved across species, their level of secretion by the various species was not equivalent. These results suggest that a switch of habitat could be related to a differential expression of genes encoding homologous secreted proteins.

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