This complex metabolic pathway starts with acetyl-CoA and malonyl-CoA which are converted by the products of the genes PKSP (also called ALB1) and AYG1 into 1,3,6,8 tetrahydroxynaphtalene (THN). Then, by successive steps of reduction (catalyzed by the product of the gene ARP2) and dehydration (catalysed by the scytalone dehydratase and the vermelone dehydratase, encoded by the genes ARP1 and ABR1, respectively), 1,3,6,8-THN is in turn converted to 1,8-DHN, which is finally polymerised by a fungal laccase encoded
by the ABR2 gene. Strains with mutations in the PKSP/ALB1 gene were obtained by exposure to UV or by gene disruption and were shown to be less virulent XAV-939 in vivo than their parent wild-type strains in murine models of disseminated aspergillosis
[4, 5]. In vitro experiments showed that melanin protects the conidia from phagocytosis and increases their resistance to reactive oxygen species Kinase Inhibitor Library in vitro produced by phagocytic cells [4, 6]. However, deletion of the ABR2 gene in a wild-type strain did not reduce virulence in an intranasal mouse infection model . Z-IETD-FMK supplier Figure 1 Biosynthetic pathway of melanin in A. fumigatus. White mutants obtained by Brakhage  and Kwon-Chung  had mutations in the ALB1 (also called PKSP) gene. Steps inhibited by commercialised DHN-melanin inhibitors are localized (Tc, tricyclazole; Pq, pyroquilon; Fx, fenoxanil). 1,3,6,8-THN, 1,3,6,8-tetrahydroxynaphthalene; 1,3,8-THN, 1,3,6,8-trihydroxynaphthalene; DHN, old dihydroxynaphthalene (adapted from Tsai
et al. ). Adherence of microorganisms to the host tissues is considered a crucial step in the initiation of infection. Previous studies on A. fumigatus by our group [8, 9] and others [10, 11] suggested that specific interactions involving the recognition of the extra-cellular matrix (ECM) component proteins, laminin and fibronectin, could mediate adherence. Immunofluorescence studies and scanning or transmission electron microscopy (SEM or TEM) also suggested that fungal adhesins for the ECM proteins are located on the ornamentations of the cell wall of resting conidia, the agents of infection. Therefore, as it had been shown by SEM that laboratory strains with mutations in the ALB1/PKS gene produce smooth-walled conidia, we predicted that melanin also plays an indirect role in pathogenesis, allowing correct assembly of the cell wall layers of resting conidia. In this study, three pigmentless or brownish isolates of clinical or environmental origin, from the BCCM/IHEM Collection (Scientific Institute of Public Health, Brussels, Belgium), were investigated and compared to two reference strains (Figure 2 and Table 1). After characterisation of the genetic defect of the three mutant isolates and visualisation of the conidial surface by SEM, the capaCity of their conidia to bind the ECM components laminin and fibronectin was quantified and the physical properties of the conidial surface were investigated.