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Calcium homeostasis and signaling in fungi and their relevance for pathogenicity of yeasts and filamentous fungi

1 Dept. Biotechnology and biosciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, P.za della Scienza, 2, 20126 Milan, Italy
2 Current address: DiaSorin S.p.A., Saluggia (VC), Italy

Topical Section: Cells Signalling and Signal Transduction

Though fungi show peculiarities in the purposes and specific traits of calcium signaling pathways, the general scheme and the most important players are well conserved if compared to higher eukaryotes. This provides a powerful opportunity either to investigate shared features using yeast as a model or to exploit fungal specificities as potential targets for antifungal therapies. The sequenced genomes from yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Schizosaccharomyces pombe and the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa were already published more than ten years ago. More recently the genome sequences of filamentous fungi of Aspergillus genus, some of which threatening pathogens, and dimorphic fungi Ustilago maydis were published, giving the chance to identify several proteins involved in calcium signaling based on their homology to yeast or mammalian counterparts. Nonetheless, unidentified calcium transporters are still present in these organisms which await to be molecularly characterized. Despite the relative simplicity in yeast calcium machinery and the availability of sophisticated molecular tools, in the last years, a number of new actors have been identified, albeit not yet fully characterized. This review will try to describe the state of the art in calcium channels and calcium signaling knowledge in yeast, with particular attention to the relevance of this knowledge with respect to pathological fungi.
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