Vesicular Trans-Cell Wall Transport in Fungi: A Mechanism for the Delivery of Virulence-Associated Macromolecules?

Lipid Insights. 2008 Aug;2:27-40. doi: 10.4137/lpi.s1000.

Abstract

Fungal cells are encaged in rigid, complex cell walls. Until recently, there was remarkably little information regarding the trans-fungal cell wall transfer of intracellular macromolecules to the extracellular space. Recently, several studies have begun to elucidate the mechanisms that fungal cells utilize to secrete a wide variety of macromolecules through the cell wall. The combined use of transmission electron microscopy, serology, biochemistry, proteomics and lipidomics have revealed that the fungal pathogens Cryptococcus neoformans, Histoplasma capsulatum, Candida albicans, Candida parapsilosis and Sporothrix schenckii, as well as the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, each produces extracellular vesicles that carry lipids, proteins, polysaccharides and pigment-like structures of unquestionable biological significance. Compositional analysis of the C. neoformans and H. capsulatum extracellular vesicles suggests that they may function as 'virulence bags', with the potential to modulate the host-pathogen interaction in favor of the fungus. The cellular origin of the extracellular vesicles remains unknown, but morphological and biochemical features indicate that they are similar to the well-described mammalian exosomes.