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PLoS Pathog. 2007 Jul 27;3(7):e101.

Exploiting amoeboid and non-vertebrate animal model systems to study the virulence of human pathogenic fungi.


Experiments with insects, protozoa, nematodes, and slime molds have recently come to the forefront in the study of host-fungal interactions. Many of the virulence factors required for pathogenicity in mammals are also important for fungal survival during interactions with non-vertebrate hosts, suggesting that fungal virulence may have evolved, and been maintained, as a countermeasure to environmental predation by amoebae and nematodes and other small non-vertebrates that feed on microorganisms. Host innate immune responses are also broadly conserved across many phyla. The study of the interaction between invertebrate model hosts and pathogenic fungi therefore provides insights into the mechanisms underlying pathogen virulence and host immunity, and complements the use of mammalian models by enabling whole-animal high throughput infection assays. This review aims to assist researchers in identifying appropriate invertebrate systems for the study of particular aspects of fungal pathogenesis.

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