Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

This is your brain on Cryptococcus: Pathogenic fungus loves your brain sugar

Date:
April 6, 2010
Source:
Duke University Medical Center
Summary:
Highly dangerous Cryptococcus fungi love sugar and will consume it anywhere because it helps them reproduce. To borrow inositol from a person's brain, the fungi have an expanded set of genes that encode for sugar transporter molecules. While a typical fungus has just two such genes, Cryptococcus have almost a dozen, according to new research.

Highly dangerous Cryptococcus fungi love sugar and will consume it anywhere because it helps them reproduce. In particular, they thrive on a sugar called inositol which is abundant in the human brain and spinal cord.

Related Articles


To borrow inositol from a person's brain, the fungi have an expanded set of genes that encode for sugar transporter molecules. While a typical fungus has just two such genes, Cryptococcus have almost a dozen, according to Joseph Heitman, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.

"Inositol is abundant in the human brain and in the fluid that bathes it (cerebral spinal fluid), which may be why this fungus has a predilection to infect the brain and cause meningitis," Heitman said. "It has the machinery to efficiently move sugar molecules inside of its cells and thrive."

The findings on Cryptococcus genes were published online this week in the inaugural issue of mBio, a new open access microbiology journal.

This specialized brain attack likely occurred because these fungi adapted to grow on plants in the wild, which also are abundant in inositol, said lead author Chaoyang Xue, Ph.D., formerly a postdoctoral research associate in the Heitman lab and now an assistant professor at the Public Health Research Institute at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). "In fact, this pathogenic yeast has more inositol transporters than all other fungi we have compared it to in the fungal kingdom, based on what we know from genome research."

The team of researchers discovered that inositol stimulates Cryptococcus to sexually reproduce. "A connection between the high concentration of free inositol and fungal infection in the human brain is suggested by our studies," Xue said. "Establishing such a connection could open up a new way to control this deadly fungus."

Cryptococcus' love for sugar may also be a fungal Achilles Heel, Heitman said. "Now scientists may be able to target the fungi by developing ways to put them on the fungal equivalent of an Atkin's low-carbohydrate diet so they will stop multiplying." He said researchers could use the new findings to devise different types of strategies to block Cryptococcus infections.

These studies will be reported in the inaugural issue mBio, which will be launched in May by the American Society of Microbiology as an online journal that spans all areas of microbiology.

Other authors include Lydia Chen and Wenjun Li of the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology; Tongbao Liu of the Public Health Research Institute, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; Iris Liu and James Kronstrad of Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia; and Andreas Seyfang of the Department of Molecular Medicine at the University of South Florida.

This work was supported by National Institute of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease grants. This work was also supported by the new Investigator institutional start-up fund from UMDNJ.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xue et al. Role of an Expanded Inositol Transporter Repertoire in Cryptococcus neoformans Sexual Reproduction and Virulence. mBio, 2010; DOI: 10.1128/mBio.00084-10

Cite This Page:

Duke University Medical Center. "This is your brain on Cryptococcus: Pathogenic fungus loves your brain sugar." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100405152757.htm>.
Duke University Medical Center. (2010, April 6). This is your brain on Cryptococcus: Pathogenic fungus loves your brain sugar. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100405152757.htm
Duke University Medical Center. "This is your brain on Cryptococcus: Pathogenic fungus loves your brain sugar." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100405152757.htm (accessed February 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 30, 2015) A nanosensor that mimics the oral effects and sensations of drinking wine has been developed by Danish and Portuguese researchers. Jim Drury saw it in operation. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Retired astronaut and television host, Leland Melvin, snuck his dogs into the NASA studio so they could be in his official photo. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us, the secret is out. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) An African Golden Cat, the rarest large cat on the planet was recently caught on camera by scientists trying to study monkeys. The cat comes out of nowhere to attack those monkeys. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the rest. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins