, Volume 175, Issue 1-2, pp 13-23
Date: 18 Nov 2012

Current Understanding of HOG-MAPK Pathway in Aspergillus fumigatus

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Aspergillus fumigatus is an important opportunistic fungal pathogen that causes lethal systemic invasive aspergillosis. It must be able to adapt to stress in the microenvironment during host invasion and systemic spread. The high-osmolarity glycerol (HOG) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway is a key element that controls adaptation to environmental stress. It plays a critical role in the virulence of several fungal pathogens. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge about the functions of different components of the HOG-MAPK pathway in A. fumigatus through mutant analysis or inferences from the genome annotation, focusing on their roles in adaptation to stress, regulation of infection-related morphogenesis, and effect on virulence. We also briefly compare the functions of the HOG pathway in A. fumigatus with those in the model fungi Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Aspergillus nidulans as well as several other human and plant pathogens including Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Magnaporthe oryzae. The genes described in this review mainly include tcsB, fos1, skn7, sho1, pbs2, and sakA whose deletion mutants have already been established in A. fumigatus. Among them, fos1 has been considered a virulence factor in A. fumigatus, indicating that components of the HOG pathway may be suitable as targets for developing new fungicides. However, quite a few of the genes of this pathway, such as sskA (ssk1), sskB, steC, and downstream regulator genes, are not well characterized. System biology approaches may contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of HOG pathway functions with dynamic details.