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Curr Opin Microbiol. 1999 Aug;2(4):358-62.

Signal transduction cascades regulating mating, filamentation, and virulence in Cryptococcus neoformans.

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Department of Genetics, Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Microbiology, and Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Cryptococcus neoformans is a basidiomycetous fungal pathogen that infects the central nervous system. The organism has a defined sexual cycle involving mating between haploid MATalpha and MATa cells. Recent studies have revealed signaling cascades that coordinately regulate differentiation and virulence of C. neoformans. One signaling cascade involves a conserved G-protein alpha subunit and cAMP, and senses nutrients during mating and virulence. The second is a conserved mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase cascade that senses pheromone during mating, and also regulates haploid fruiting and virulence. Interestingly, some of the MAP kinase components are encoded by the MAT locus itself, which may explain the unique association of the MATalpha locus with physiology and virulence.

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