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TIGR, Stanford Scientists Sequence Opportunistic Fungus C. Neoformans

NEW YORK, Jan. 13 (GenomeWeb News) - Researchers at the Institute for Genomic Research and Stanford University's Genome Technology Center have sequenced the genomes of two strains of Cryptococcus neoformans, the groups said today.


The fungus is an increasingly important pathogen that often attacks AIDS victims and patients undergoing immunosuppressive therapies, according to TIGR.


"The two new Cryoptococcus genome sequences and their analysis provide many targets for vaccine development and drug discovery," said StanfordUniversityresearcher Richard Hyman, who led the sequencing of one of the two strains.  


The study, which appears online in Science Express, compares the genomes of the two fungal strains and identifies the fungus' virulence strategies and genetic factors affecting its pathogenicity, TIGR said. The study identified 6,572 protein-encoding genes on the fungus' 14 chromosomes. More than 30 genes are likely involved in synthesis of the fungus' polysaccharide capsule, an exterior structure that most influences virulence, TIGR said.


The study identified several unusual features in the fungal strains' genomes. The species is the first known to employ alternative splicing and antisense transcripts on a genome-wide scale, and it contains a high proportion of transposons, which may account for genetic disparities often observed between different isolates, TIGR said.

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