Chitin: A "Hidden Figure" in the Fungal Cell Wall.
Chitin and chitosan are two related polysaccharides that provide important structural stability to fungal cell walls. Often embedded deeply within the cell wall structure, these molecules anchor other components at the cell surface. Chitin-directed organization of the cell wall layers allows the fungal cell to effectively monitor and interact with the external environment. For fungal pathogens, this interaction includes maintaining cellular strategies to avoid excessive detection by the host innate immune system. In turn, mammalian and plant hosts have developed their own strategies to process fungal chitin, resulting in chitin fragments of varying molecular size. The size-dependent differences in the immune activation behaviors of variably sized chitin molecules help to explain how chitin and related chitooligomers can both inhibit and activate host immunity. Moreover, chitin and chitosan have recently been exploited for many biomedical applications, including targeted drug delivery and vaccine development.
Brown, HE; Esher, SK; Alspaugh, JA
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