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Mol Microbiol. 2014 Jun;92(6):1279-98. doi: 10.1111/mmi.12626. Epub 2014 May 9.

Endoplasmic reticulum localized PerA is required for cell wall integrity, azole drug resistance, and virulence in Aspergillus fumigatus.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, NH, USA.


GPI-anchoring is a universal and critical post-translational protein modification in eukaryotes. In fungi, many cell wall proteins are GPI-anchored, and disruption of GPI-anchored proteins impairs cell wall integrity. After being synthesized and attached to target proteins, GPI anchors undergo modification on lipid moieties. In spite of its importance for GPI-anchored protein functions, our current knowledge of GPI lipid remodelling in pathogenic fungi is limited. In this study, we characterized the role of a putative GPI lipid remodelling protein, designated PerA, in the human pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. PerA localizes to the endoplasmic reticulum and loss of PerA leads to striking defects in cell wall integrity. A perA null mutant has decreased conidia production, increased susceptibility to triazole antifungal drugs, and is avirulent in a murine model of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. Interestingly, loss of PerA increases exposure of β-glucan and chitin content on the hyphal cell surface, but diminished TNF production by bone marrow-derived macrophages relative to wild type. Given the structural specificity of fungal GPI-anchors, which is different from humans, understanding GPI lipid remodelling and PerA function in A. fumigatus is a promising research direction to uncover a new fungal specific antifungal drug target.

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