Histoplasma Capsulatum Molecular Genetics, Pathogenesis, and Responsiveness to Its Environment

Fungal Genet Biol. 2002 Mar;35(2):81-97. doi: 10.1006/fgbi.2001.1311.


Histoplasma capsulatum is a thermally dimorphic ascomycete that is a significant cause of respiratory and systemic disease in mammals including humans, especially immunocompromised individuals such as AIDS patients. As an environmental mold found in the soil, it is a successful member of a competitive polymicrobial ecosystem. Its host-adapted yeast form is a facultative intracellular pathogen of mammalian macrophages. H. capsulatum faces a variety of environmental changes during the course of infection and must survive under harsh conditions or modulate its microenvironment to achieve success as a pathogen. Histoplasmosis may be considered the fungal homolog of the bacterial infection tuberculosis, since both H. capsulatum and Mycobacterium tuberculosis exploit the macrophage as a host cell and can cause acute or persistent pulmonary and disseminated infection and reactivation disease. The identification and functional analysis of biologically or pathogenically important H. capsulatum genes have been greatly facilitated by the development of molecular genetic experimental capabilities in this organism. This review focuses on responsiveness of this fungus to its environment, including differential expression of genes and adaptive phenotypic traits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Histoplasma / genetics
  • Histoplasma / pathogenicity
  • Histoplasma / physiology*
  • Histoplasmosis / blood
  • Histoplasmosis / immunology
  • Histoplasmosis / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Macrophages / microbiology
  • Phenotype
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Transferrin / metabolism
  • Virulence


  • Transferrin