Sequencing the Aspergillus fumigatus genome


Denning DW, Anderson MJ, Turner G, LatgÉ JP, Bennett JW

Date: 26 February 2009


Aspergillus fumigatus is the most common mould pathogen of human beings and unusually causes both invasive disease in immunocompromised patients and allergic disease in patients with atopic immune systems. 4% of patients dying in modern European teaching hospitals have invasive aspergillosis and it is the leading infectious cause of death in leukaemia and bone marrow transplant patients. Until 2001, only two licensed antifungal drugs were available to treat aspergillosis-amphotericin B and itraconazole. Its 28-30Mb genome is being sequenced in an international collaboration, with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (UK) and The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR, USA) as the two main centres. A whole-genome shotgun approach was adopted and initiated in 2001 with an expected completion date in 2003. The complete sequence will permit identification of pathways specific to pathogenic Aspergillus species, help identify new targets for antifungal drugs, and enable investigations into the basic biology of fungi. Numerous secondary metabolic pathways with biotechnological applications and pharmacological properties are found in the Aspergilli and the genome sequence will facilitate research in this area.

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