Protein kinase A and fungal virulence: A sinister side to a conserved nutrient sensing pathway

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Abstract

Diverse fungal species are the cause of devastating agricultural and human diseases. As successful pathogenesis is dependent upon the ability of the fungus to adapt to the nutritional and chemical environment of the host, the understanding of signaling pathways required for such adaptation will provide insights into the virulence of these pathogens and the potential identification of novel targets for antifungal intervention. The cAMP-PKA signaling pathway is well conserved across eukaryotes. In the nonpathogenic yeast, S. cerevisiae, PKA is activated in response to extracellular nutrients and subsequently regulates metabolism and growth. Importantly, this pathway is also a regulator of pathogenesis, as defects in PKA signaling lead to an attenuation of virulence in diverse plant and human pathogenic fungi. This review will compare and contrast PKA signaling in S. cerevisiae vs. various pathogenic species and provide a framework for the role of this pathway in regulating fungal virulence.

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