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Mycopathologia. 2001;151(2):53-6.

Melanization decreases the susceptibility of Cryptococcus neoformans to enzymatic degradation.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.


Cryptococcus neoformans is a free-living fungus that is primarily found in soils contaminated with avian excreta. Recent studies have shown that C. neoformans can synthesize melanins or melanin-like compounds in avian excreta. Melanization has been associated with protection of C. neoformans against harsh environmental conditions, such as ultraviolet radiation and extremes of temperature. In this study we examined whether melanization can protect C. neoformans against enzymatic degradation. Our results demonstrated that in vitro melanization decreases the susceptibility of C. neoformans to hydrolytic enzymes. This suggests a role for melanin in protection of C. neoformans against enzymatic degradation by antagonistic microbes in the environment.

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