Editor's Summary

27 August 2009

Breathe easy: why inhaled fungal spores don't provoke an immune reaction


Every day we inhale thousands of tiny fungal spores (conidia), originating from many different fungal species. Yet although these spores are packed with antigens and allergens, their inhalation does not continuously activate our innate immune cells or provoke inflammatory responses. A series of immunological, biochemical and genetic experiments shows why: immune recognition of these spores is prevented by a hydrophobic layer of rodlet proteins covering the conidial surface. If this layer is removed, spores activate the immune system. A pathogenic spore equipped with this defensive layer might lie dormant beyond host defences until conditions are suitable for germination. Therapeutically the robust nature of the rodlet proteins might be exploited to generate nanoparticles containing embedded molecules targeted to a specific location in the body, or optimized for sustained delivery.

LetterSurface hydrophobin prevents immune recognition of airborne fungal spores

Vishukumar Aimanianda, Jagadeesh Bayry, Silvia Bozza, Olaf Kniemeyer, Katia Perruccio, Sri Ramulu Elluru, Cécile Clavaud, Sophie Paris, Axel A. Brakhage, Srini V. Kaveri, Luigina Romani & Jean-Paul Latgé

doi:10.1038/nature08264