Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

Robert L. McFeeters

Committee Member

Debra M. Moriarity

Committee Member

Luis R. Cruz-Vera


Pathogenic fungi, Antifungal agents, Cryptococcus neoformans


Pathogenic fungi have become increasingly important due to a wide range of fungal infections worldwide and emergence of drug resistant strains. Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that causes mostly pulmonary infections, meningitis and meningoencephalitis. The rate of mortality in males is higher compared to females. Testosterone, the major steroid hormone in males, has been shown to affect the C. neoformans pathogenicity. Searching for an effective antifungal drug against C. neoformans, in particular for males, is a matter of importance. Scytovirin is a lectin with newly discovered antifungal activity associated with cell wall interaction. Scytovirin was tested against two pathogenic strains of C. neoformans, 24067 and H99S, in the presence of testosterone to determine its effects on major virulence factors (polysaccharide capsule and melanization) and budding. The results showed Scytovirin not only reduced capsule size in strain H99S in the presence of testosterone, but also induced melanization and altered the time course of budding for strain 24067. Thus, Scytovirin, with inhibitory effects on C. neoformans, is a new and potential antifungal agent with potential increased potency in the higher mortality male population.



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