α- and β-1,3-Glucan Synthesis and Remodeling

Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 425)


Glucans are characteristic and major constituents of fungal cell walls. Depending on the species, different glucan polysaccharides can be found. These differ in the linkage of the d-glucose monomers which can be either in α- or β-conformation and form 1,3, 1,4 or 1,6 O-glycosidic bonds. The linkages and polymer lengths define the physical properties of the glucan macromolecules, which may form a scaffold for other cell wall structures and influence the rigidity and elasticity of the wall. β-1,3-glucan is essential for the viability of many fungal pathogens. Therefore, the β-1,3-glucan synthase complex represents an excellent and primary target structure for antifungal drugs. Fungal cell wall β-glucan is also an important pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP). To hide from innate immunity, many fungal pathogens depend on the synthesis of cell wall α-glucan, which functions as a stealth molecule to mask the β-glucans itself or links other masking structures to the cell wall. Here, we review the current knowledge about the biosynthetic machineries that synthesize β-1,3-glucan, β-1,6-glucan, and α-1,3-glucan. We summarize the discovery of the synthases, major regulatory traits, and the impact of glucan synthesis deficiencies on the fungal organisms. Despite all efforts, many aspects of glucan synthesis remain yet unresolved, keeping research directed toward cell wall biogenesis an exciting and continuously challenging topic.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut Für Hygiene Und Mikrobiologie, University of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.National Reference Center for Invasive Fungal Infections (NRZMyk)JenaGermany
  3. 3.Department of Cell Biology, Medical FacultyUniversity of MunichMartinsriedGermany

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