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Mycopathologia. 2014 Dec;178(5-6):341-8. doi: 10.1007/s11046-014-9794-9. Epub 2014 Aug 15.

Calcineurin-mediated regulation of hyphal growth, septation, and virulence in Aspergillus fumigatus.

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Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, Duke University Medical Center, 427 Jones Building, Research Drive, Durham, NC, 27710, USA,


Calcineurin is a heterodimeric protein phosphatase complex composed of catalytic (CnaA) and regulatory (CnaB) subunits and plays diverse roles in regulating fungal stress responses, morphogenesis, and pathogenesis. Fungal pathogens utilize the calcineurin pathway to survive in the host environment and cause life-threatening infections. The immunosuppressive calcineurin inhibitors (FK506 and cyclosporine A) are active against fungi, making calcineurin a promising antifungal drug target. Here, we review novel findings on calcineurin localization and functions in Aspergillus fumigatus hyphal growth and septum formation through regulation of proteins involved in cell wall biosynthesis. Extensive mutational analysis in the functional domains of A. fumigatus CnaA has led to an understanding of the relevance of these domains for the localization and function of CnaA at the hyphal septum. An evolutionarily conserved novel mode of calcineurin regulation by phosphorylation in filamentous fungi was found to be responsible for virulence in A. fumigatus. This finding of a filamentous fungal-specific mechanism controlling hyphal growth and virulence represents a potential target for antifungal therapy.

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