The endocytic adaptor proteins of pathogenic fungi: charting new and familiar pathways

Med Mycol. 2011 Jul;49(5):449-57. doi: 10.3109/13693786.2011.553246. Epub 2011 Jan 24.


Intracellular transport is an essential biological process that is highly conserved throughout the eukaryotic organisms. In fungi, adaptor proteins implicated in the endocytic cycle of endocytosis and exocytosis were found to be important for growth, differentiation, and/or virulence. For example, Saccharomyces cerevisiae Pan1 is an endocytic protein that regulates membrane trafficking, the actin cytoskeleton, and signaling. In Cryptococcus neoformans, a multi-modular endocytic protein, Cin1, was recently found to have pleiotropic functions in morphogenesis, endocytosis, exocytosis, and virulence. Interestingly, Cin1 is homologous to human intersectin ITSN1, but homologs of Cin1/ITSN1 were not found in ascomycetous S. cerevisiae and Candida albicans, or zygomycetous fungi. Moreover, an Eps15 protein homologous to S. cerevisiae Pan1/Ede1 and additional relevant protein homologs were identified in C. neoformans, suggesting the existence of either a distinct endocytic pathway mediated by Cin1 or pathways by either Cin1 or/and Pan1/Ede1 homologs. Whether and how the Cin1-mediated endocytic pathway represents a unique role in pathogenesis or reflects a redundancy of a transport apparatus remains an open and challenging question. This review discusses recent findings of endocytic adaptor proteins from pathogenic fungi and provides a perspective for novel endocytic machinery operating in C. neoformans. An understanding of intracellular trafficking mechanisms as they relate to pathogenesis will likely reveal the identity of novel antifungal targets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endocytosis*
  • Exocytosis*
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fungi / metabolism
  • Fungi / pathogenicity
  • Fungi / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological


  • Fungal Proteins