- Melanin is a major virulence factor in pathogenic fungi that enhances the ability of fungal cells to resist immune clearance. Cryptococcus neoformans is an important human pathogenic fungus that synthesizes melanin from exogenous tissue catecholamine precursors during infection, but the type of melanin made in cryptococcal meningoencephalitis is unknown. We analyzed the efficacy of various catecholamines found in brain tissue in supporting melanization using animal brain tissue and synthetic catecholamine mixtures reflecting brain tissue proportions.
- A primary virulence-associated trait of the opportunistic fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans is the production of melanin pigments that are deposited into the cell wall and interfere with the host immune response. Previously, our solid-state NMR studies of isolated melanized cell walls (melanin “ghosts”) revealed that the pigments are strongly associated with lipids, but their identities, origins, and potential roles were undetermined. Herein, we exploited spectral editing techniques to identify and quantify the lipid molecules associated with pigments in melanin ghosts.
- Chemical biology is an emerging field that enables the study and manipulation of biological systems with probes whose reactivities provide structural insights. The opportunistic fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans possesses a polysaccharide capsule that is a major virulence factor, but is challenging to study. We report here the synthesis of a hydroxylamine-armed fluorescent probe that reacts with reducing glycans and its application to study the architecture of the C. neoformans capsule under a variety of conditions.
- Melanins are synthesized macromolecules that are found in all biological kingdoms. These pigments have a myriad of roles that range from microbial virulence to key components of the innate immune response in invertebrates. Melanins also exhibit unique properties with potential applications in physics and material sciences, ranging from electrical batteries to novel therapeutics. In the fungi, melanins, such as eumelanins, are components of the cell wall that provide protection against biotic and abiotic elements.
- Studies in the 1980s first showed that some natural antibodies were “catalytic” and able to hydrolyze peptide or phosphodiester bonds in antigens. Many naturally occurring catalytic antibodies have since been isolated from human sera and associated with positive and negative outcomes in autoimmune disease and infection. The function and prevalence of these antibodies, however, remain unclear. A previous study suggested that the 18B7 monoclonal antibody against glucuronoxylomannan (GXM), the major component of the Cryptococcus neoformans polysaccharide capsule, hydrolyzed a peptide antigen mimetic.