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While the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans can produce its own glucose during the initial establishment of infection, it inevitably needs to live off the glucose stored in its host to persist and cause disease.
C. neoformans is an emerging fungal pathogen of humans and is responsible for approximately 625,000 deaths annually among those suffering from AIDS. Researchers from Duke University and the University of British Columbia investigated how the fungus acquires the nutrients it needs to establish infection and cause disease.
"The ability of this fungus to persist in the host, coupled with its propensity to colonize the central nervous system (CNS), makes understanding of nutrient acquisition in the host a primary concern," write the researchers. They discovered that to cause lung infection the fungus could use a process known as gluconeogenesis to create its own glucose, but in order to infect the central nervous system it required a process known as glycolysis where it used glucose from the host. Inhibition of glycolysis could be a target for new drug development.
The research was published in American Society for Microbiologys journal, mBio.