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Microbiol Spectr. 2017 May;5(3). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0035-2016.

The Fungal Cell Wall: Structure, Biosynthesis, and Function.

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Aberdeen Fungal Group, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB252ZD, United Kingdom.
Unité des Aspergillus, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


The molecular composition of the cell wall is critical for the biology and ecology of each fungal species. Fungal walls are composed of matrix components that are embedded and linked to scaffolds of fibrous load-bearing polysaccharides. Most of the major cell wall components of fungal pathogens are not represented in humans, other mammals, or plants, and therefore the immune systems of animals and plants have evolved to recognize many of the conserved elements of fungal walls. For similar reasons the enzymes that assemble fungal cell wall components are excellent targets for antifungal chemotherapies and fungicides. However, for fungal pathogens, the cell wall is often disguised since key signature molecules for immune recognition are sometimes masked by immunologically inert molecules. Cell wall damage leads to the activation of sophisticated fail-safe mechanisms that shore up and repair walls to avoid catastrophic breaching of the integrity of the surface. The frontiers of research on fungal cell walls are moving from a descriptive phase defining the underlying genes and component parts of fungal walls to more dynamic analyses of how the various components are assembled, cross-linked, and modified in response to environmental signals. This review therefore discusses recent advances in research investigating the composition, synthesis, and regulation of cell walls and how the cell wall is targeted by immune recognition systems and the design of antifungal diagnostics and therapeutics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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