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Med Mycol. 2001;39 Suppl 1:41-53.

Chitin synthesis in human pathogenic fungi.

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Deportment of Molecular and Cell Biology, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK.


In recent years it has become evident that the structural polysaccharide chitin is synthesized from a family of enzymes encoded by multiple CHS chitin synthase genes, and regulated by an array of ancillary gene products that influence CHS activation and localization. Considerable attention has therefore been given to elucidating the function of specific CHS gene products in individual fungi. In those fungi in which individual CHS genes have been deleted systematically, there is little evidence for redundancy of function in family members. Chs enzymes are now known that participate in lateral wall biosynthesis, septum synthesis and spore formation but the phenotype of some CHS gene mutations is subtle, and so the role of the corresponding isoenzymes remains obscure. Nonetheless, it has become clear that certain members of the CHS gene families of fungi are more important for growth, integrity and viability than others, and this knowledge has already led to the design of new classes of antifungal agents that are targeted against key enzyme activities. Future work in this area will help define how individual Chs enzymes are targeted to specific regions of the cell wall and at specific times of the cell cycle, and should facilitate the rational development of novel and highly specific antifungal agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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