New drug target emerges for a dangerous fungal pathogen

February 7, 2018, Stony Brook University

Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungal pathogen usually affecting immunocompromised patients, particularly AIDS and organ transplant patients, and is one that can be lethal. Current treatments against cryptococcosis are often not effective. Now a team of researchers led by Stony Brook University scientists Mansa Munshi and Maurizio Del Poeta in the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, have discovered a novel gene that helps understand the mechanism of survival of this pathogen in various host conditions.

Their finding, published in Cell Reports , may help pave the way for more effective and innovative treatments against cryptococcosis.

When C. neoformans survives in a host, disease results. In the paper, the team details how they uncovered that ceramides (a class of lipid molecules) play a role in the pathogenicity of C. neoformans. They identified a new gene within this process, called Cer1, which synthesizes ceremides. By targeting Cer1, pathogenicity in the host is altered.

Munshi and colleagues delete Cer1 from the pathogen, and a mutant form of C. neoformans is created that is completely disabled and unable to cause disease. These results have led the team to theorize that Cer1 may be a new drug target in the search for better treatments of cryptococcosis.

Explore further: Environmental pressures on opportunistic fungal pathogen

More information: The Role of Ceramide Synthases in the Pathogenicity of Cryptococcus neoformans. Cell Reports. DOI: doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.01.035 |

Related Stories

Environmental pressures on opportunistic fungal pathogen

June 13, 2017
With an estimated one million cases diagnosed worldwide each year, the human pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans, which can cause life-threatening fungal infections in immunocompromised patients, is an important health concern. ...

Angina drug could inform a new strategy to fight cryptococcosis

June 7, 2016
A drug, more commonly used in the treatment of angina, could be the focus of a new strategy in fighting the fatal fungal infection cryptococcosis.

New study targets lethal fungal infection

July 24, 2017
The development of new drugs to fight a common fungal pathogen which kills half a million people globally each year is a step closer thanks to a University of Queensland-led study.

Recommended for you

New strategy to cure chronic hepatitis B infection

May 18, 2018
Scientists from Karolinska Institutet and Hannover Medical School have published two studies that provide insights into how the immune system responds and helps to clear a hepatitis B infection after treatment interruption. ...

Blood type affects severity of diarrhea caused by E. coli

May 17, 2018
A new study shows that a kind of E. coli most associated with "travelers' diarrhea" and children in underdeveloped areas of the world causes more severe disease in people with blood type A.

Resistance to antifungal drugs could lead to disease and global food shortages

May 17, 2018
Growing levels of resistance to antifungal treatments could lead to increased disease outbreaks and affect food security around the world.

Pig immunology comes of age: Killer T cell responses to influenza

May 17, 2018
Researchers from The Pirbright Institute, University of Bristol, Cardiff University and University of Oxford have generated tools that allow scientists to understand a vital area of the pig immune system which was previously ...

How intestinal worms hinder tuberculosis vaccination

May 17, 2018
New research in mice suggests that chronic infection with intestinal worms indirectly reduces the number of cells in lymph nodes near the skin, inhibiting the immune system's response to the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) ...

Mosquito spit may affect your immune system for days

May 17, 2018
Mosquito saliva alone—even in the absence of any pathogens—contains hundreds of proteins. Now, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have discovered that the interaction of these proteins with the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.