Chapter 2 : Overview of the Fungal Pathogens

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This chapter provides basic knowledge of fungal biology that is necessary for proper comprehension of the intimate mechanisms and strategies that fungi have adopted in causing infections and diseases. Fungal morphogenesis, dimorphism, and phenotypic switching are now beginning to be explored at the molecular and genetic levels. Unlike mammalian cells, fungi possess a multilayered rigid cell wall immediately exterior to the plasmalemma. The major polysaccharides of the cell wall matrix consist of glucans, made up of β-1,6-linked D-glucose residues with β-1,3-linked branches at frequent intervals; mannan, an a-1,6-linked polymer of D-mannose with a-1,2 and a-1,3 branches; chitosans (polymers of glucosamine); and galactans (polymers of galactose). The chapter focuses on various fungal diseases. Adherence to host tissues is considered the pivotal first step in the pathogenesis of fungal infections. Fungi secrete a variety of enzymes, such as proteases, elastases, and phospholipases, which are considered to be major virulence factors. Subversion of host phagocyte receptors by fungal pathogens represents a most successful strategy to escape elimination by the host immune system. Progress toward understanding the epidemiology and pathogenesis of fungal infections has been slow, as has the progress in the area of diagnosis and treatment. There is a need for additional strategies of prevention and treatment of fungal infections. This demands the continuation of studies aimed at the molecular typing of fungi, fungal virulence genes, and host-specific immune reactivity that limit fungal infectivity.

Citation: Romani L. 2002. Overview of the Fungal Pathogens, p 25-38. In Kaufmann S, Sher A, Ahmed R (ed), Immunology of Infectious Diseases. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817978.ch2

Key Concept Ranking

Effector Th Cells
Fungal Proteins
Fungal Pathogenesis
Fungal Infections
Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis
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Figure 1

The different yeast and hyphal morphologies.

Citation: Romani L. 2002. Overview of the Fungal Pathogens, p 25-38. In Kaufmann S, Sher A, Ahmed R (ed), Immunology of Infectious Diseases. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817978.ch2
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Table 1

Taxonomy of medically important fungi

Citation: Romani L. 2002. Overview of the Fungal Pathogens, p 25-38. In Kaufmann S, Sher A, Ahmed R (ed), Immunology of Infectious Diseases. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817978.ch2
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Table 2

Classification of fungal infections

Citation: Romani L. 2002. Overview of the Fungal Pathogens, p 25-38. In Kaufmann S, Sher A, Ahmed R (ed), Immunology of Infectious Diseases. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817978.ch2
Generic image for table
Table 3

Fungal virulence and evasion mechanisms from host immune defenses

Citation: Romani L. 2002. Overview of the Fungal Pathogens, p 25-38. In Kaufmann S, Sher A, Ahmed R (ed), Immunology of Infectious Diseases. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817978.ch2

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