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Cell Microbiol. 2009 Mar;11(3):370-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2008.01273.x. Epub 2008 Dec 19.

Signalling pathways in the pathogenesis of Cryptococcus.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Efficient communication with the environment is critical for all living organisms. Fungi utilize complex signalling systems to sense their environments and control proliferation, development and in some cases virulence. Well-studied signalling pathways include the protein kinase A/cyclic AMP (cAMP), protein kinase C (PKC)/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), lipid signalling cascades, and the calcium-calcineurin signalling pathway. The human pathogenic basidiomycetous fungus Cryptococcus neoformans deploys sensitive signalling systems to survive in the human host, leading to life-threatening meningoencephalitis. Known virulence traits of this fungus, including the antioxidant melanin production, the antiphagocytic polysaccharide capsule and the ability to grow at 37 degrees C, are orchestrated by complex signalling networks, whose understanding is crucial to better treat, diagnose and prevent cryptococcosis.

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