, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 77–86 | Cite as

Paracoccidioides brasileensis: Cell wall structure and virulence

A review
  • Gioconda San-Blas
  • Felipe San-Blas


Paracoccidioides brasiliensis is the causative agent of paracoccidioidomycosis or South American blastomycosis. Many aspects of the disease and its agent are unknown. One of the most important factors regarding the infection and the host-parasite relationships seems to be the fungal cell wall whose biochemical aspects are reviewed here.

Biochemical studies, done mainly by Kanetsuna et al., (21, 22), have demonstrated that the yeastlike (Y) and the mycelial (M) forms have chitin as a common polysaccharide, with α-1, 3-glucan in the Y form and β-1, 3-glucan in the M form. These polysaccharides are fibrillar and determine to some degree the fungal shape. Moreover, an amorphous galactomannan is found in the cell wall of the M form. This compound is responsible for the antigenic properties of the cell wall (1).

Recent studies (30–33) suggest that the cell wall does not possess a stable chemical structure but a rather changing one, as a function of the environment in which the fungus is grown. At the same time, the cell wall composition seems to correlate with the degree of virulence of the particular strain. From these observations it may be deduced that the constituent polysaccharides ofP. brasiliensis cell wall, play an important role in the active protection of the fungus against the defensive mechanisms of the host.


Cell Wall Polysaccharide Chitin Sino Cual 
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Paracoccidioides brasiliensis es un hongo dimórfico patógeno, causante de la paracoccidioidomicosis o blastomicosis sudamericana. Muchos aspectos de la enfermedad y su agente etiológico son desconocidos. Uno de los factures importantes en la infección y en las relaciones huésped-parásito, es la pared celular del hongo cuyos aspectos bioquímicos son recapitulados en este trabajo.

Los estudios bioquímicos realizados por Kanetsuna y col. (21, 22) permiten concluir que las fases levaduriforme (L) y micelial (M) del hongo tienen quitina como polisacárido común, encontrándose además α-1,3-glucán en la forma L y β-1,3-glucán en la forma M. Estos polisacáridos son fibrilares y determinan en cierto grado la forma de la pared celular. Además, en la pared celular de la forma M fundamentalmente, se encuentra un galactomanán amorfo cuyas propiedades antigénicas han sido estudiadas (1).

Estudios recientes (30–33) permiten concluir que la pared celular no parece tener una estructura química estable sino cambiante en función del ambiente en el cual se crece el hongo, estando esta estructura relacionada con el grado de virulencia de la cepa estudiada. De estos estudios se deduce que los polisacáridos constituyentes de la pared celular deP. brasiliensis juegan un papel importante en la protección activa del hongo contra los mécanismes de defensa del huésped.


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Copyright information

© Dr. W. Junk b.v. - Publishers 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gioconda San-Blas
    • 1
  • Felipe San-Blas
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Microbiología y Biología CelularInstituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC)CaracasVenezuela

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