Pathobiology of Pneumocystis pneumonia: Life cycle, cell wall and cell signal transduction

Joseph H. Skalski, Theodore J. Kottom, Andrew H. Limper

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Pneumocystis is a genus of ascomycetous fungi that are highly morbid pathogens in immunosuppressed humans and other mammals. Pneumocystis cannot easily be propagated in culture, which has greatly hindered understanding of its pathobiology. The Pneumocystis life cycle is intimately associated with its mammalian host lung environment, and life cycle progression is dependent on complex interactions with host alveolar epithelial cells and the extracellular matrix. The Pneumocystis cell wall is a varied and dynamic structure containing a dominant major surface glycoprotein, ß-glucans and chitins that are important for evasion of host defenses and stimulation of the host immune system. Understanding of Pneumocystis cell signaling pathways is incomplete, but much has been deduced by comparison of the Pneumocystis genome with homologous genes and proteins in related fungi. In this mini-review, the pathobiology of Pneumocystis is reviewed, with particular focus on the life cycle, cell wall components and cell signal transduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFEMS Yeast Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2015


  • Opportunistic infection
  • acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • cell signaling
  • cell wall
  • life cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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