The roles of zinc and copper sensing in fungal pathogenesis

Elizabeth R. Ballou, Duncan Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


All organisms must secure essential trace nutrients, including iron, zinc, manganese and copper for survival and proliferation. However, these very nutrients are also highly toxic if present at elevated levels. Mammalian immunity has harnessed both the essentiality and toxicity of micronutrients to defend against microbial invasion-processes known collectively as 'nutritional immunity'. Therefore, pathogenic microbes must possess highly effective micronutrient assimilation and detoxification mechanisms to survive and proliferate within the infected host. In this review we compare and contrast the micronutrient homeostatic mechanisms of Cryptococcus and Candida-yeasts which, despite ancient evolutionary divergence, account for over a million life-threatening infections per year. We focus on two emerging arenas within the host-pathogen battle for essential trace metals: adaptive responses to zinc limitation and copper availability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-134
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
Early online date18 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

Open Access funded by Wellcome Trust

ERB is funded by the BBSRC (BB/M014525/1). DW is supported by a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society (Grant Number 102549/Z/13/Z). We additionally acknowledge the MRC and University of Aberdeen for funding (MR/N006364/1) and the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award for Medical Mycology and Fungal Immunology (097377/Z/11/Z). Finally, we acknowledge FungiDB and the Candida Genome Database [ 56 and 57].


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