The structure and synthesis of the fungal cell wall

Bioessays. 2006 Aug;28(8):799-808. doi: 10.1002/bies.20441.


The fungal cell wall is a dynamic structure that protects the cell from changes in osmotic pressure and other environmental stresses, while allowing the fungal cell to interact with its environment. The structure and biosynthesis of a fungal cell wall is unique to the fungi, and is therefore an excellent target for the development of anti-fungal drugs. The structure of the fungal cell wall and the drugs that target its biosynthesis are reviewed. Based on studies in a number of fungi, the cell wall has been shown to be primarily composed of chitin, glucans, mannans and glycoproteins. The biosynthesis of the various components of the fungal cell wall and the importance of the components in the formation of a functional cell wall, as revealed through mutational analyses, are discussed. There is strong evidence that the chitin, glucans and glycoproteins are covalently cross-linked together and that the cross-linking is a dynamic process that occurs extracellularly.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Cell Wall / drug effects
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Chitin / chemistry
  • Chitin / metabolism
  • Fungal Proteins / chemistry
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Fungi / drug effects
  • Fungi / metabolism*
  • Glucans / chemistry
  • Glucans / metabolism
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Mycoses / drug therapy


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Glucans
  • Glycoproteins
  • Chitin