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Newly identified enzyme helps pathogenic fungus build protective cell wall

Newly identified enzyme helps pathogenic fungus build protective cell wall
Credit: Leanor Haley/CDC

Researchers at the School of Medicine have identified a novel enzyme involved in building the cell wall of Cryptococcus neoformans, a fungus that causes lung infections and potentially deadly cases of meningitis, primarily in people with AIDS. About 150,000 people worldwide die every year of cryptococcal infections.

Because the fungal cell wall is both unique to fungi and necessary for the organisms' survival, many antifungal drugs work by disrupting this barrier. The cryptococcal cell wall, however, has some unique features that make it resistant to antifungal agents that work against other . The discovery of the new enzyme—dubbed glucan organizing , or Goe1—deepens scientists' understanding of how fungal cell walls are built and suggests new ways to target the structure.

The study is by senior author Tamara Doering, MD, Ph.D., the Alumni Endowed Professor of Molecular Microbiology, and postdoctoral researcher Liza Loza and is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information: Liza Loza et al, A fungal protein organizes both glycogen and cell wall glucans, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2024). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2319707121

Citation: Newly identified enzyme helps pathogenic fungus build protective cell wall (2024, July 9) retrieved 22 July 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2024-07-newly-enzyme-pathogenic-fungus-cell.html
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