Cryptococcus study sheds light on how fungi cause disease in persons with impaired immunity
In a project that already has benefited an important field of biomedical research, scientists have deciphered the genomes of two closely related strains of Cryptococcus neoformans, a fungus whose importance as a human pathogen has risen in parallel with the HIV/AIDS worldwide epidemic and the increased use of immunosuppressive therapies. The study, posted online January 13 in Science Express, revealed differences in the virulence strategies used by C. neoformans compared to other pathogenic fungi. Researchers also examined the genetic determinants of its pathogenicity by comparing the genomes of two closely related strains of significantly different virulence.
"Not only have we established a genomic platform for the further study of this increasingly important pathogen, but the data from the two strains may provide insight into what determines virulence," says Brendan Loftus, a scientist at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) who is the first author of the Science paper. "Although the two Cryptococcus strains we examined differ significantly in virulence, we found surprisingly little difference in their gene content."
Robert Koenig | EurekAlert!
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