Chapter 18. Trehalose Biosynthesis: Neutralizing Fungal Menace by Attacking Its Achilles Heel

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Rayne S. S. Magalhães, Renata M. dos Santos and Elis C. A. Eleutherio
Institute of Chemistry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Rio de Janeiro,Brazil

Part of the book: The Book of Fungal Pathogens

Abstract

Trehalose is a disaccharide synthesized in a wide range of organisms as a form of protection against adverse environmental factors, including oxidative, acidic, osmotic, or nutritional stresses. This sugar is involved in sporulation, germination, metabolism, and morphogenesis. Trehalose synthesis has been associated with fungal virulence, which is outstanding because the identification of specific drug targets essential for fitness of fungi is still a goal of medical microbiology research. Antimycotics are scarce and cause serious side effects in humans because fungi and mammalian cells share cellular structures and biochemical processes. Since humans are not able to synthesize trehalose, probably inhibitors or drugs directed toward trehalose biosynthesis of the pathogen would have little toxicity for the host. Therefore, it is of great interest to elucidate the trehalose biosynthetic pathway in pathogenic fungi with the aim to develop new effective strategies to treat fungal infections. In this chapter we address the biological roles of trehalose and the regulation of its synthesis in fungi, as we also evaluate the structure of the proteins involved in trehalose synthesis providing a deeper understanding of the area which may offer the basisfor the design of novel antifungal compounds.

Keywords: antimycotics, trehalose, TPS, TPP


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