Structural Determination of Fungal Cell Wall Carbohydrates by NMR

Candida albicans is a common fungus that contributes to infections in humans, especially in those who are immunosuppressed. Working with Dr. David L. Williams and his colleagues in the Department of Surgery and the Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity at East Tennessee State University, the DHMRI NMR Laboratory applied two-dimensional NMR spectroscopy to the study of structural differences in polysaccharides contained within the cell walls of Candida albicans.

The study determined the polymeric backbone structure of the fungal cell walls differed depending on temperature and growth media content. Additionally, the NMR experiments showed within the fungal samples the differences in the polymeric backbone are transferred into the cell wall, causing differences in cell wall structure and behavior.

Williams and his colleagues study host-pathogen interactions with specific emphasis on pathogen cell wall structures that are critical for recognition of the pathogen by the innate immune system. “By using the NMR instrumentation at DHMRI, we have been able to identify and elucidate structures in the cell wall of pathogens that have not been identified previously,” commented Williams.

Relevant Journal Abstract: Mannan structural complexity is decreased when Candida albicans is cultivated in blood or serum at physiological temperature.

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