Calcineurin as a Multifunctional Regulator: Unraveling Novel Functions in Fungal Stress Responses, Hyphal Growth, Drug Resistance, and Pathogenesis

Fungal Biol Rev. 2014 Oct;28(2-3):56-69. doi: 10.1016/j.fbr.2014.02.004.

Abstract

Calcineurin signaling plays diverse roles in fungi in regulating stress responses, morphogenesis and pathogenesis. Although calcineurin signaling is conserved among fungi, recent studies indicate important divergences in calcineurin-dependent cellular functions among different human fungal pathogens. Fungal pathogens utilize the calcineurin pathway to effectively survive the host environment and cause life-threatening infections. The immunosuppressive calcineurin inhibitors (FK506 and cyclosporine A) are active against fungi, making targeting calcineurin a promising antifungal drug development strategy. Here we summarize current knowledge on calcineurin in yeasts and filamentous fungi, and review the importance of understanding fungal-specific attributes of calcineurin to decipher fungal pathogenesis and develop novel antifungal therapeutic approaches.

Keywords: Aspergillus; Candida; calcineurin; cell wall; fungi; septum; virulence.