Pneumocystis is a genus of ascomycetous fungi that are highly morbid pathogens in immunosuppressed humans and other mammals. Pneumocystis cannot easily be propagated in culture, which has greatly hindered understanding of its pathobiology. The Pneumocystis life cycle is intimately associated with its mammalian host lung environment, and life cycle progression is dependent on complex interactions with host alveolar epithelial cells and the extracellular matrix. The Pneumocystis cell wall is a varied and dynamic structure containing a dominant major surface glycoprotein, ß-glucans and chitins that are important for evasion of host defenses and stimulation of the host immune system. Understanding of Pneumocystis cell signaling pathways is incomplete, but much has been deduced by comparison of the Pneumocystis genome with homologous genes and proteins in related fungi. In this mini-review, the pathobiology of Pneumocystis is reviewed, with particular focus on the life cycle, cell wall components and cell signal transduction.
- Opportunistic infection
- acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- cell signaling
- cell wall
- life cycle
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology