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Pathogen Protection And Virulence: Dark Side Of Fungal Membrane Protein Revealed

Researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech and Montana State University have discovered a fungal protein that plays a key role in causing disease in plants and animals and which also shields the pathogen from oxidative stress.

The researchers have found that the fungal protein TmpL is critical for the infection of host tissue and helps these pathogens regulate oxidative stress responses that are caused by the presence of destructive reactive oxygen species, a natural feature of the adaptive response to infection.

Dr. Chris Lawrence, Associate Professor at VBI and the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech and leader of the project, remarked: "The critical roles of reactive oxygen species in fungal development and virulence have been well established over the past half century. However little is known about how these molecules are produced or how the balance is achieved between their cell signaling roles on the one hand and their potentially destructive properties on the other. I believe we now have a unique opportunity to study a common fungal disease-associated mechanism in plants and animals that appears to be inextricably linked to the oxidative stress of the host-pathogen environment."
 
 

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