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Uncovering the Secrets of Fungal Cell Walls

Published January 04, 2019

Left: Two-dimensional 13C-13C spectra. Right: Representative structure of glycans
Left: Two-dimensional 13C-13C spectra. Right: Representative structure of glycans

With unprecedented sensitivity and resolution from state-of-the-art magnets, scientists have identified for the first time the cell wall structure of one of the most prevalent and deadly fungi.

What did scientists discover?

This collaboration determined the three-dimensional architecture of the carbohydrate-rich cell wall in native and intact fungi. By using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP), scientists can now elucidate how carbohydrates and proteins are packed to form the cell walls of the most prevalent and deadly fungi.

Why is this important?

Life-threatening infections by pathogenic fungi have evolved into a major threat to human health, impacting millions of people every year. Knowledge gained from these experiments provides the molecular basis for engineering more effective antifungal drugs.

Who did the research?

Xue Kang1, Alex Kirui1, Artur Muszyński2, Malitha C Dickwella Widanage1, Adrian Chen1, Parastoo Azadi2, Ping Wang3, Frederic Mentink-Vigier4, Tuo Wang1

1Louisiana State University; 2University of Georgi; 3LSU Health Sciences Center; 4National MagLab.

Why did they need the MagLab?

The fungal cell wall is a highly complex composite of many different biomolecules. A successful determination of the structures in the fungal cell wall requires a combination of the increased resolution from high-field magnets and the NMR signal sensitivity boost resulting from the instruments and expertise available through the MagLab’s unique DNP user program.

Details for scientists


This research was funded by the following grants: G.S. Boebinger (NSF DMR-1157490, NSF DMR-1644779); T. Wang (NSF OIA-1833040).

For more information, contact Frederic Mentink-Vigier.

Tools They Used

This research was conducted in the MagLab 800 MHz solid-state NMR system and the 600 MHz/395 GHz DNP system at the MagLab's NMR/MRI Facility.

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Last modified on 28 December 2022