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Mycopathologia. 2014 Dec;178(5-6):371-7. doi: 10.1007/s11046-014-9766-0. Epub 2014 Jun 20.

Aspergillus cell wall and biofilm.

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Unité des Aspergillus, Institut Pasteur, Paris Cedex 15, France,


The fungal cell is surrounded by a cell wall that acts as a sieve and a reservoir for effector molecules that play an active role during infection. This cell wall is essential for fungal growth as well as for resisting host defense mechanisms. The Aspergillus fumigatus cell wall is almost exclusively composed of polysaccharides. The fibrillar core is composed of a branched β-(1,3)-glucan to which chitin, β-(1,3)-/β-(1,4)-glucan, and galactomannan are covalently bound. The alkali-soluble amorphous fraction is mainly composed of α-(1,3)-glucan that has adhesive property and stabilizes the cell wall. Although the same polysaccharides are found in the cell wall of different A. fumigatus morphotypes (conidia and hyphae), their concentration and localization are different. Conidial (the morphotype that mainly enters host respiratory system) cell wall is covered by an outer layer of rodlets and melanin, which confers hydrophobic properties and imparts immunological inertness. In contrast, outer layer of the hypha contains galactosaminogalactan, recently identified as an A. fumigatus virulence factor. The hypha grows either as a network of agglutinated and hydrophobic mass (called mycelium) embedded in an extracellular matrix (ECM) rich in polysaccharides, hydrophobin, and melanin or segregated without ECM.

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