Intersection of fungal fitness and virulence in Cryptococcus neoformans

FEMS Yeast Res. 2006 Jun;6(4):489-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1567-1364.2006.00078.x.


The use of insertional mutagenesis to discover genes that impact laccase activity has resulted in the identification of multiple cellular processes that affect the fitness of Cryptococcus neoformans. Fitness has been defined as the ability of an organism to propagate and evolve within a given environment. Because the human host is an evolutionary dead-end for an opportunistic pathogen, we have defined pathogenic fitness here as the capability to successfully propagate within the stressful environment of the host, causing disease by expression of virulence traits that damage the host. In this review, laccase-deficient insertional mutants will be highlighted in terms of the basic biological processes in which they are involved. The impact of laccase-associated cellular functions on fitness and virulence will be discussed, as will the mutants' potential as therapeutic targets. Vacuolar function, copper homeostasis, mitochondrial function and carbon repression are covered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cryptococcosis / microbiology
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / enzymology
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / genetics*
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / growth & development
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / pathogenicity*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Humans
  • Laccase / metabolism
  • Virulence


  • Laccase