Skin Commensal Fungus Malassezia and Its Lipases

J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2021 May 28;31(5):637-644. doi: 10.4014/jmb.2012.12048.


Malassezia is the most abundant genus in the fungal microflora found on human skin, and it is associated with various skin diseases. Among the 18 different species of Malassezia that have been identified to date, M. restricta and M. globosa are the most predominant fungal species found on human skin. Several studies have suggested a possible link between Malassezia and skin disorders. However, our knowledge on the physiology and pathogenesis of Malassezia in human body is still limited. Malassezia is unable to synthesize fatty acids; hence, it uptakes external fatty acids as a nutrient source for survival, a characteristic compensated by the secretion of lipases and degradation of sebum to produce and uptake external fatty acids. Although it has been reported that the activity of secreted lipases may contribute to pathogenesis of Malassezia, majority of the data were indirect evidences; therefore, enzymes' role in the pathogenesis of Malassezia infections is still largely unknown. This review focuses on the recent advances on Malassezia in the context of an emerging interest for lipases and summarizes the existing knowledge on Malassezia, diseases associated with the fungus, and the role of the reported lipases in its physiology and pathogenesis.

Keywords: Lipase; M. globose; M. restricta; Malassezia; skin microflora.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatomycoses / microbiology
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lipase / metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Malassezia / classification
  • Malassezia / enzymology*
  • Malassezia / pathogenicity
  • Sebum / metabolism
  • Skin / microbiology*
  • Virulence


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Lipase