New advances and potentials of fungal immunomodulatory proteins for therapeutic purposes

Crit Rev Biotechnol. 2020 Dec;40(8):1172-1190. doi: 10.1080/07388551.2020.1808581. Epub 2020 Aug 28.


Fungal immunomodulatory proteins (FIPs) are fascinating small and heat-stable bioactive proteins in a distinct protein family due to similarities in their structures and sequences. They are found in fungi, including the fruiting bodies producing fungi comprised of culinary and medicinal mushrooms. Structurally, most FIPs exist as homodimers; each subunit consisting of an N-terminal α-helix dimerization and a C-terminal fibronectin III domain. Increasing numbers of identified FIPs from either different or same fungal species clearly indicates the growing research interests into its medicinal properties which include immunomodulatory, anti-inflammation, anti-allergy, and anticancer. Most FIPs increased IFN-γ production in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, potentially exerting immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting overproduction of T helper-2 (Th2) cytokines common in an allergy reaction. Recently, FIP from Ganoderma microsporum (FIP-gmi) was shown to promote neurite outgrowth for potential therapeutic applications in neuro-disorders. This review discussed FIPs' structural and protein characteristics, their recombinant protein production for functional studies, and the recent advances in their development and applications as pharmaceutics and functional foods.

Keywords: Fungal immunomodulatory protein; anti-inflammatory; anticancer; glycoprotein; neurite outgrowth; recombinant protein.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Allergic Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Allergic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cytokines
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fungal Proteins / pharmacology
  • Fungal Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Fungi / genetics
  • Fungi / metabolism*
  • Ganoderma
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Lectins
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Th2 Cells
  • Wound Healing


  • Anti-Allergic Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Lectins
  • Recombinant Proteins

Supplementary concepts

  • Ganoderma microsporum