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Mycopathologia. 2008 Nov-Dec;166(5-6):285-94. doi: 10.1007/s11046-008-9105-4. Epub 2008 May 14.

Secreted proteases from dermatophytes.

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  • Service de Dermatologie et Vénéréologie, Laboratoire de Mycologie, BT422, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland. Michel.Monod@chuv.ch


Dermatophytes are highly specialized pathogenic fungi that exclusively infect the stratum corneum, nails or hair, and it is evident that secreted proteolytic activity is important for their virulence. Endo- and exoproteases-secreted by dermatophytes are similar to those of species of the genus Aspergillus. However, in contrast to Aspergillus spp., dermatophyte-secreted endoproteases are multiple and are members of two large protein families, the subtilisins (serine proteases) and the fungalysins (metalloproteases). In addition, dermatophytes excrete sulphite as a reducing agent. In the presence of sulphite, disulphide bounds of the keratin substrate are directly cleaved to cysteine and S-sulphocysteine, and reduced proteins become accessible for further digestion by various endo- and exoproteases secreted by the fungi. Sulphitolysis is likely to be an essential step in the digestion of compact keratinized tissues which precedes the action of all proteases.

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