Send to

Choose Destination
Med Mycol. 2007 Mar;45(2):149-55.

Infection stages of the dermatophyte pathogen Trichophyton: microscopic characterization and proteolytic enzymes.

Author information

Department of Molecular Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Haifa, Israel.


Dermatophytes are pathogenic fungi that infect human skin, nails and hair and cause dermatophytosis. Trichophyton mentagrophytes is one of the most widespread species that belong to this group. Infection of the skin tissues include several stages, i.e., adhesion to the surface of the skin, invasion into the sublayers by the penetration of fungal elements and secretion of enzymes that degrade the skin components. In this study we have followed the morphology of the fungal elements, such as arthroconidia and hyphae, during the adhesion and invasion stages. Skin explants were inoculated with the dermatophyte and observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Skin explants were also inoculated with a transgenic isolate of T. mentagrophytes expressing the green fluorescent protein (GFP). The infected sublayers were investigated by confocal scanning laser microscopy (CSLM). As an adaptation to the tissue environment, the dermatophyte produced long fibrils when it is on the open surface of the stratum corneum, while short and thin fibrils are produced inside the dense sublayers. The short and long projections might have a role in adhesion. Invasion may be produced by mechanical and biochemical means. Invasion of the tissue showed hyphal branching and growth in multiple directions. The proteolytic profile was assayed by substrate gel and proteolytic activity. Two serine proteases of similar molecular weight were secreted during growth on the epidermal matrix components keratin and elastin. The dermatophyte may use the proteolytic enzymes to invade the surface and also the deep layer of the skin in immunocompromised patients. Dermatophytes, which are well adapted infectious agents, seem to use their mechanical and biochemical capabilities to invade the skin tissue effectively.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center