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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2008 Aug;11(4):331-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2008.05.009. Epub 2008 Jun 23.

Aspergillus fumigatus: virulence genes in a street-smart mold.

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Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0529, United States.


Infections with the filamentous fungus Aspergillus fumigatus are among the most devastating of the systemic mycoses. Unlike most primary pathogens, which possess virulence traits that developed in association with a host organism, evidence suggests that the virulence of A. fumigatus entails a collection of 'street-smart' attributes that have evolved to resist the adverse selection pressures encountered in decaying vegetation. These features enhance the overall competitiveness of the organism in its environmental niche but are also thought to promote growth and survival in a human host. Although many of the genes that are responsible for these characteristics do not fit into the classical definition of a virulence factor, they are nonetheless important to the pathogenesis of aspergillosis and may therefore provide novel opportunities for antifungal development.

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