Capsule and melanin synthesis in Cryptococcus neoformans

Med Mycol. 2001;39 Suppl 1:19-30.


Melanization is a property that is shared among several human pathogenic fungi, whereas encapsulation is a property unique to Cryptococcus neoformans. Focusing on C. neoformans, the current knowledge of the structure and synthesis of the melanin and polysaccharide capsule is discussed. The importance of such basic biological information is underscored by the involvement of each to the pathogenic ability of the fungus and their potential as drug targets, yet areas where critical data remain elusive are clearly visible. Finally, in recognition of the fact that C. neoformans is a free-living organism, we conclude by examining the possible biological importance of each of these traits for environmental survival of the fungus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / classification
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / metabolism*
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / pathogenicity
  • Melanins / biosynthesis*
  • Polymers / metabolism
  • Polysaccharides / biosynthesis*
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Serotyping
  • Virulence


  • Melanins
  • Polymers
  • Polysaccharides
  • glucuronoxylomannan