Fungal-host interactions in the context of phagocytosis

An essential host defence mechanism against pathogens involves their intracellular killing, achieved through a complex series of extra- and intracellular processes. The key steps include pathogen recognition, the formation of a phagocytic cup, and subsequent engulfment of the pathogen in a phagosome. Through several well-controlled steps, such as fusion with other vesicles like lysosomes, a phagosome matures into its final stage, the phagolysosome. The phagolysosome provides a hostile environment that kills and degrades pathogens and is considered the endpoint of the degradation pathway.

All fungal pathogens studied to date have developed strategies to manipulate phagosomal function directly and indirectly by redirecting phagosomes from the degradative pathway to the non-degradative pathway. The manipulation of its intracellular fate appears to be a prerequisite for a fungus to become a successful pathogen.

Our research focuses on fungal-host interactions in the context of phagocytosis to advance our understanding of phagosome biology and how fungal pathogens interfere with phagosome maturation. These findings contribute to the development of new smart technologies that may enhance phagosome redirection toward degradative pathways or even enable the targeting of phagosomes, ultimately leading to the eradication of pathogens within these compartments.

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Leijie Jia
Head

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