The contribution of melanin to microbial pathogenesis

Joshua D. Nosanchuk, Arturo Casadevall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

342 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Melanins are enigmatic pigments that are produced by a wide variety of microorganisms including several species of pathogenic bacteria, fungi and helminthes. The study of melanin is difficult because these pigments defy complete biochemical and structural analysis. Nevertheless, the availability of new reagents in the form of monoclonal antibodies and melanin-binding peptides, combined with the application of various physical techniques, has provided insights into the process of melanization. Melanization is important in microbial pathogenesis because it has been associated with virulence in many microorganisms. Melanin appears to contribute to virulence by reducing the susceptibility of melanized microbes to host defence mechanisms. However, the interaction of melanized microbes and the host is complex and includes immune responses to melanin-related antigens. Production of melanin has also been linked to protection against environmental insults. Interference with melanization is a potential strategy for antimicrobial drug and pesticide development. The process of melanization poses fascinating problems in cell biology and provides a type of pathogenic strategy that is common to highly diverse pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-223
Number of pages21
JournalCellular Microbiology
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003

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Melanins
Pigments
Microorganisms
Virulence
Cytology
Conservation of Natural Resources
Pathogens
Environmental protection
Antigen-Antibody Complex
Fungi
Pesticides
Structural analysis
Cell Biology
Bacteria
Monoclonal Antibodies
Availability
Antigens
Peptides
Pharmaceutical Preparations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology

Cite this

The contribution of melanin to microbial pathogenesis. / Nosanchuk, Joshua D.; Casadevall, Arturo.

In: Cellular Microbiology, Vol. 5, No. 4, 01.04.2003, p. 203-223.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Nosanchuk, Joshua D. ; Casadevall, Arturo. / The contribution of melanin to microbial pathogenesis. In: Cellular Microbiology. 2003 ; Vol. 5, No. 4. pp. 203-223.
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