Targeting the Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii cell wall using lectins: study of the carbohydrate-binding domain

Molecules. 2015 Feb 25;20(3):3776-82. doi: 10.3390/molecules20033776.


Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii is considered to be the major cause of cryptococcosis in immunosuppressed patients. Understanding cell wall glycoproteins using lectins is of medical interest and can contribute to specific therapy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the carbohydrates on the cell wall of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii clinical isolates, using a fluorescein isothiocyanate-lectin binding protocol. Thirty yeast strains stocked in the culture collection were cultivated for 2 days at 30 °C with shaking. Cells were obtained by centrifugation, washed in phosphate-buffered saline, and a suspension of 107 cells/mL was obtained. To determine the binding profile of lectins, concanavalin A (Con A), wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), Ulex europaeus agglutinin I (UEA-I), and peanut agglutinin (PNA) conjugated to fluorescein were used. All the tested clinical isolates of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii were intensely stained by WGA, moderately stained by Con A, and weakly stained by PNA and UEA-I. Thus, Cryptococcus can be detected in clinical specimens such as blood and cerebrospinal fluid using the fluorescent lectin WGA, which may be considered as an option for detection in cases of suspected cryptococcosis with low laboratory sensitivity. Future applications may be developed using this basic tool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrates*
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Concanavalin A / metabolism*
  • Cryptococcosis / metabolism*
  • Cryptococcosis / microbiology
  • Cryptococcosis / pathology
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / isolation & purification*
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lectins / metabolism*


  • Carbohydrates
  • Lectins
  • Concanavalin A