A molecular vision of fungal cell wall organization by functional genomics and solid-state NMR

Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 3;12(1):6346. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-26749-z.


Vast efforts have been devoted to the development of antifungal drugs targeting the cell wall, but the supramolecular architecture of this carbohydrate-rich composite remains insufficiently understood. Here we compare the cell wall structure of a fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus and four mutants depleted of major structural polysaccharides. High-resolution solid-state NMR spectroscopy of intact cells reveals a rigid core formed by chitin, β-1,3-glucan, and α-1,3-glucan, with galactosaminogalactan and galactomannan present in the mobile phase. Gene deletion reshuffles the composition and spatial organization of polysaccharides, with significant changes in their dynamics and water accessibility. The distribution of α-1,3-glucan in chemically isolated and dynamically distinct domains supports its functional diversity. Identification of valines in the alkali-insoluble carbohydrate core suggests a putative function in stabilizing macromolecular complexes. We propose a revised model of cell wall architecture which will improve our understanding of the structural response of fungal pathogens to stresses.

PMID:34732740 | DOI:10.1038/s41467-021-26749-z

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