Cell-wall dyes interfere with cryptococcus neoformans melanin deposition

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8 Scopus citations


Melanization is an intrinsic characteristic of many fungal species, but details of this process are poorly understood because melanins are notoriously difficult pigments to study. While studying the binding of cell-wall dyes, Eosin Y or Uvitex, to melanized and non-melanized Cryptococcus neoformans cells we noted that melanization leads to reduced fluorescence intensity, suggesting that melanin interfered with dye binding to the cell wall. The growth of C. neoformans in melanizing conditions with either of the cell-wall dyes resulted in an increase in supernatant-associated melanin, consistent with blockage of melanin attachment to the cell wall. This effect provided the opportunity to characterize melanin released into culture supernatants. Released melanin particles appeared mostly as networked structures having dimensions consistent with previously described extracellular vesicles. Hence, dye binding to the cell wall created conditions that resembled the ‘leaky melanin’ phenotype described for certain cell-wall mutants. In agreement with earlier studies on fungal melanins biosynthesis, our observations are supportive of a model whereby C. neoformans melanization proceeds by the attachment of melanin nanoparticles to the cell wall through chitin, chitosan, and various glucans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number000682
Pages (from-to)1012-1022
Number of pages11
JournalMicrobiology (United Kingdom)
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Eosin Y
  • Fungal
  • Leaky melanin
  • Melanin
  • Melanin anchor
  • Uvitex
  • Vesicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology


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