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Med Mycol. 2000;38 Suppl 1:79-86.

Fungal morphogenesis and virulence.

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Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Centro de Microbiología y Biología Celular, Caracas, Venezuela.


Phenotypic variability in pathogenic fungi has long been correlated with virulence, but specific genetic and molecular mechanisms are only recently being unraveled. Fungal morphogenesis, reflecting the expression of several regulated genes, and the capacity of the rising forms or phases to cause disease has been focused on at the XIVth Congress of the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology. Three experimental models of pathogenic fungi have been discussed. In Cryptococcus neoformans, phenotypic variability or switching represents controlled and programmed changes rather than random mutations. Evaluated phenotypic traits were the capsular polysaccharide, cell and colony morphology and virulence. In the dimorphic Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, the serine-thiol proteinase from the yeast phase cleaves the main components of the basal membrane, thus being potentially relevant in fungal dissemination. In Candida albicans, relationships between adhesion proteins and those of lymphocytes and neutrophils are related to fungal pathogenicity. Regulation of the directional growth of hyphae and its tropic responses are correlated with the invasive potential of C. albicans.

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