The capsule of Cryptococcus neoformans

Arturo Casadevall, Carolina Coelho, Radames J.B. Cordero, Quigly Dragotakes, Eric Jung, Raghav Vij, Maggie P. Wear

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The capsule of Cryptococcus neoformans is its dominant virulence factor and plays a key role in the biology of this fungus. In this essay, we focus on the capsule as a cellular structure and note the limitations inherent in the current methodologies available for its study. Given that no single method can provide the structure of the capsule, our notions of what is the cryptococcal capsule must be arrived at by synthesizing information gathered from very different methodological approaches including microscopy, polysaccharide chemistry and physical chemistry of macromolecules. The emerging picture is one of a carefully regulated dynamic structure that is constantly rearranged as a response to environmental stimulation and cellular replication. In the environment, the capsule protects the fungus against desiccation and phagocytic predators. In animal hosts the capsule functions in both offensive and defensive modes, such that it interferes with immune responses while providing the fungal cell with a defensive shield that is both antiphagocytic and capable of absorbing microbicidal oxidative bursts from phagocytic cells. Finally, we delineate a set of unsolved problems in the cryptococcal capsule field that could provide fertile ground for future investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)822-831
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • cryptococcal capsule
  • polysaccharide structure
  • virulence factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'The capsule of Cryptococcus neoformans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this