On the roles of calcineurin in fungal growth and pathogenesis
Calcineurin is a calcium-activated phosphatase that controls morphogenesis and stress responses in eukaryotes. Fungal pathogens have adopted the calcineurin pathway to survive and effectively propagate within the host. The difficulty in treating fungal infections stems from similarities between pathogen and host eukaryotic cells. Using calcineurin inhibitors such as cyclosporin A or tacrolimus (FK506) in combination with antifungal drugs, including azoles or echinocandins, renders these drugs fungicidal, even towards drug-resistant species or strains, making calcineurin a promising drug target. This article summarizes the current understanding of the calcineurin pathway and its roles in governing the growth and virulence of pathogenic fungi, and compares and contrasts the roles of calcineurin in fungal pathogens that infect humans (Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans) or plants (Magnaporthe oryzae and Ustilago maydis). Further investigation of calcineurin biology will advance opportunities to develop novel antifungal therapeutic approaches and provide insight into the evolution of virulence. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
Chen, YL; Kozubowski, L; Cardenas, ME; Heitman, J
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