Molecular architecture of fungal cell walls revealed by solid-state NMR

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© 2018 The Author(s). The high mortality of invasive fungal infections, and the limited number and inefficacy of antifungals necessitate the development of new agents with novel mechanisms and targets. The fungal cell wall is a promising target as it contains polysaccharides absent in humans, however, its molecular structure remains elusive. Here we report the architecture of the cell walls in the pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. Solid-state NMR spectroscopy, assisted by dynamic nuclear polarization and glycosyl linkage analysis, reveals that chitin and α-1,3-glucan build a hydrophobic scaffold that is surrounded by a hydrated matrix of diversely linked β-glucans and capped by a dynamic layer of glycoproteins and α-1,3-glucan. The two-domain distribution of α-1,3-glucans signifies the dual functions of this molecule: contributing to cell wall rigidity and fungal virulence. This study provides a high-resolution model of fungal cell walls and serves as the basis for assessing drug response to promote the development of wall-Targeted antifungals.

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Nature Communications

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