Molecular Biology for Pathogenic Fungi Has Come of Age; What Now Can It Do?



There have been major advances in the molecular biology foundations for a series of medically important fungi such as Candida albicans, Aspergillus fumigatus and Cryptococcus neoformans. With these new tools, there has been new information gathered on molecular epidemiology and phylogeny of pathogenic fungi and strategies are available for molecular diagnosis. However, a major area of new development has been the use of molecular techniques such as gene identifications and site-directed disruptant mutants to dissect the pathogenic features of medically-important fungi. Experience with one potential molecular model system, Cryptococcus neoformans has allowed me to view the power of these techniques but also understand how careful the scientific designs must be to ensure that we achieve a full understanding of molecular pathogenesis. It is clear that on a genetic basis the composite virulence phenotypes can be partially understood and features may not be predicted by nonpathogen models. Virulence is complex but with excellent animal models and careful molecular manipulation, virulence genes can be identified. The results of these molecular studies can lead to identifying drug target(s), identification of mechanism(s) for drug resistance and vaccine epitopes. However, a critical mass of investigators are still needed to supply the energy for this work.

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38th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
    • ICAAC 38th