Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Killing with Kindness

Sharing of vesicles – bubbles of membrane – enable Candida fungus to form treatment-thwarting biofilms

27 September 2022

Killing with Kindness

Sharing is caring, but it can also be deadly. Here, we see small spheres on the surface of fungus Candida parapsilosis. These are vesicles: membrane bubbles that allow cells to share. One cell wraps up molecules in vesicles and releases them into the world; another captures and absorbs them. Researchers have shown that different Candida species use vesicles to help each other establish human infections. Using this route, the fungi swap proteins that help them to form biofilms – aggregates of cells embedded in a slimy matrix. When fungi grow this way, they can tolerate antifungal drugs, making their infections harder to treat and deadlier. Scientists found that supplying Candida vesicles to a strain lacking the proteins needed to form biofilms allowed it to produce the structure. This sharing likely happens in the human body too. If we can stop the generosity of these fungi, we may be able to better treat their infections.

Written by Henry Stennett

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