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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2010 Jul;87(4):1221-35. doi: 10.1007/s00253-010-2690-4. Epub 2010 Jun 8.

Proteins with antifungal properties and other medicinal applications from plants and mushrooms.

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The School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, China.


Living organisms produce a myriad of molecules to protect themselves from fungal pathogens. This review focuses on antifungal proteins from plants and mushrooms, many of which are components of the human diet or have medicinal value. Plant antifungal proteins can be classified into different groups comprising chitinases and chitinase-like proteins, chitin-binding proteins, cyclophilin-like proteins, defensins and defensin-like proteins, deoxyribonucleases, embryo-abundant protein-like proteins, glucanases, lectins, lipid transfer proteins, peroxidases, protease inhibitors, ribonucleases, ribosome-inactivating proteins, storage 2S albumins, and thaumatin-like proteins. Some of the aforementioned antifungal proteins also exhibit mitogenic activity towards spleen cells, nitric oxide inducing activity toward macrophages, antiproliferative activity toward tumor cells, antibacterial activity, and inhibitory activity toward HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. In contrast to the large diversity of plant antifungal proteins, only a small number of mushroom antifungal proteins have been reported. Mushroom antifungal proteins are distinct from their plant counterparts in N-terminal sequence. Nevertheless, some of the mushroom antifungal proteins have been shown to inhibit HIV-1 reverse transcriptase activity and tumor cell proliferation.

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