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Autophagy. 2008 Nov;4(8):982-8. Epub 2008 Nov 29.

The diverse roles of autophagy in medically important fungi.

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Department of Oral and Craniofacial Biology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.


Autophagy is a highly conserved eukaryotic mechanism whereby cells recycle cellular elements to survive under adverse conditions. Surprisingly, of the three fungal pathogens of greatest relevance to human health, only Cryptococcus neoformans has been shown to require this process during infection. In contrast, autophagy is dispensable for the virulence of both Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus. The divergent roles for autophagy in these opportunistic species underscore the uniqueness of the host infection niche occupied by each fungus and provide insights into the evolutionary pressures that may have influenced the need for autophagy during infection. Further study of fungal autophagy may reveal the host signals which induce this protective response and determine if these signals differ between host cells or tissues. In addition, a comprehensive understanding of the autophagy machinery in fungal pathogens may provide a rational basis for the design of future therapeutic interventions to improve outcome in patients who are at risk for these infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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