Secreted proteases from pathogenic fungi

M Monod, S Capoccia, B Lechenne, C Zaugg, M Holdom, O Jousson

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

311 Citations (Scopus)


Many species of human pathogenic fungi secrete proteases in vitro or during the infection process. Secreted endoproteases belong to the aspartic proteases of the pepsin family, serine proteases of the subtilisin family, and metalloproteases of two different families. To these proteases has to be added the non-pepsin-type aspartic protease from Aspergillus niger and a unique chymotrypsin-like protease from Coccidioides immitis. Pathogenic fungi also secrete aminopeptidases, carboxypeptidases and dipeptidyl-peptidases. The function of fungal secreted proteases and their importance in infections vary. It is evident that secreted proteases are important for the virulence of dermatophytes since these fungi grow exclusively in the stratum corneum, nails or hair, which constitutes their sole nitrogen and carbon sources. The aspartic proteases secreted by Caudida albicans are involved in the adherence process and penetration of tissues, and in interactions with the immune system of the infected host. For Aspergillus fumigatus, the role of proteolytic activity has not yet been proved. Although the secreted proteases have been intensively investigated as potential virulence factors, knowledge on protease substrate specificities is rather poor and few studies have focused on the research of inhibitors. Knowledge of substrate specificities will increase our understanding about the action of each protease secreted by pathogenic fungi and will help to determine their contribution to virulence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405 - 419
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002


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