Our understanding of immunity to fungal pathogens has advanced considerably in recent years. Particularly significant have been the parallel discoveries in the C-type lectin receptor family and the Th effector arms of immunity, especially Th17 cells and their signature cytokine, IL-17. Many of these studies have focused on the most common human fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, which is typically a commensal microbe in healthy individuals but causes various disease manifestations in immunocompromised hosts, ranging from mild mucosal infections to lethal disseminated disease. Here, we discuss emerging fundamental discoveries with C. albicans that have informed our overall molecular understanding of fungal immunity. In particular, we focus on the importance of pattern recognition receptor-mediated fungal recognition and subsequent IL-17 responses in host defense against mucosal candidiasis. In light of these recent advances, we also discuss the implications for anticytokine biologic therapy and vaccine development.
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