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Full genome of Pneumocystis jirovecii, fungus that causes pneumonia in immunocompromised patients

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This week in mBio: A (surprisingly small) team of researchers have sequenced the genome of the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii, an advancement that could help identify new targets for drugs to treat and prevent Pneumocystis pneumonia, a common and often deadly infection in immunocompromised patients. The organism cannot yet be isolated and grown for study in the lab, so details about Pneumocystis pneumonia, the biology of P. jirovecii, and its pathogenicity are hard to come by. The genome sequence represents a wealth of new information for doctors and researchers tackling this disease.

Pneumocystis pneumonia is an opportunistic infection that strikes most often in individuals with diminished immune systems. Corresponding author of the study, Philippe Hauser, says the disease gained importance in the 1980s. “Recognized first among malnourished infants, P. jirovecii pneumonia became a public issue with the advent of the HIV epidemic,” says Hauser. Today, the disease most commonly affects HIV-infected persons who are unaware of their status as well as solid organ transplant recipients and patients with hemato-oncologic or autoimmune diseases. Since the organism cannot be grown in the lab for study, researchers have long made do with studying P. jirovecii’s lab-friendly relatives, species that infect animals and plants, in order to explore the secrets of the human disease.

Click on the source link to read more on mBio's blog, mBiosphere...
 
 

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