Nutrient and stress sensing in pathogenic yeasts

Julian C. Rutherford, Yong Sun Bahn, Bert Van Den Berg, Joseph Heitman, Chaoyang Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


More than 1.5 million fungal species are estimated to live in vastly different environmental niches. Despite each unique host environment, fungal cells sense certain fundamentally conserved elements, such as nutrients, pheromones and stress, for adaptation to their niches. Sensing these extracellular signals is critical for pathogens to adapt to the hostile host environment and cause disease. Hence, dissecting the complex extracellular signal-sensing mechanisms that aid in this is pivotal and may facilitate the development of new therapeutic approaches to control fungal infections. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on how two important pathogenic yeasts, Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans, sense nutrient availability, such as carbon sources, amino acids, and ammonium, and different stress signals to regulate their morphogenesis and pathogenicity in comparison with the non-pathogenic model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The molecular interactions between extracellular signals and their respective sensory systems are described in detail. The potential implication of analyzing nutrient and stress-sensing systems in antifungal drug development is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number442
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberMAR
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was in part supported by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to JR, Korea National Research Foundation (NRF) grants (2016R1E1A1A01943365 and 2018R1A5A1025077) and Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Strategic Initiative for Microbiomes in Agriculture and Food (918012-4) to Y-SB, National Institutes of Health (NIH) R37 AI39115-20 and R01 AI50113-15 to JH, and NIH R01AI123315 to CX.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 Rutherford, Bahn, van den Berg, Heitman and Xue.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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