Fungal Cell Walls

The fungal cell wall is composed mainly of carbohydrates together with some protein and lipids. The cytoplasmic membrane, unlike the membrane of bacteria, contains sterols. The most important carbohydrates are mannan, glucan, chitin, and cellulose. The wall of some molds is primarily a chitin-glucan structure, whereas mannan is more predominant in yeasts, resulting in mannan-chitin or mannan-glucan cell wall structures. The digestive juice of the garden snail Helix pomatia, available commercially as glusulase, is high in P-1, 3- and P-1, 6-glucanase activity and is frequently used to digest the cell wall of molds and some yeasts. Novozyme 234 (Novo Industries) will yield protoplasts of Aspergillus and Penicillium (1). Novozyme 234 is notably effective for digesting the cell wall of Schizosaccharomyces pombe, while glusulase Nee-154 (DuPont; Endo Laboratories) is used with Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Both Novozyme 234 and the yeast lytic enzyme from Arthrobacter luteus (ICN Biomedicals), otherwise known as lyticase or zymolase (Sigma), are effective for yielding spheroplasts of Yarrowia lipolytica (formerly Candida lipolytica) (2). Yeasts and molds harvested from the exponential phase of growth are more sensitive to the activity of these cell wall digesting enzyme preparations than are late exponential or stationary phase cells.

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