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Identification and Possible Disease Mechanisms of an Under-Recognized Fungus, Aureobasidium pullulans

Taylor, Philip E. and Esch, Robert and Flagan, Richard C. and House, James and Tran, Lisa and Glovsky, M. Michael (2006) Identification and Possible Disease Mechanisms of an Under-Recognized Fungus, Aureobasidium pullulans. International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, 139 (1). pp. 45-52. ISSN 1018-2438. doi:10.1159/000089522.

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Background: Investigations into the occurrence and health effects of yeast-like fungi in the outdoor air in the US have been limited. We sought to identify a respirable-sized fungus common in the Pasadena air, locate a major source for the emissions and investigate its relevance to allergic disease. Methods: Yeast-like fungi sampled from the environment were isolated, microscopically examined and sequenced. Pasadena allergy patients were skin tested with commercially available fungal extracts. Patient serum was immunoanalyzed for specific IgE reactivity. Nearby vegetation was analyzed in a controlled emission chamber to find a major source for the aerosols. Results: Hyaline unicellular conidia comprised up to 90% (41,250 m^(–3) of air) of total fungal counts and generally peaked at night and during periods of rainfall and ensuing winds throughout the fall and winter. Flowers were determined to be a major source of the emissions. The cellular and colonial morphology of isolates were consistent with Aureobasidium species. The sequence of the D1/D2 region of the 26S ribosomal subunit of isolates from flowers showed identity to two strains of Aureobasidium pullulans (black yeast). Seventeen percent (16/94) of atopic individuals had positive skin testing with A. pullulans extract. Patient sera IgE identified several high molecular weight allergens in Aureobasidium extracts. Conclusions: Respirable-sized conidia of A. pullulans are emitted from flowers and form high concentrations in the air. They are associated with immediate reactivity on skin tests, bind to patient sera IgE, and might be relevant in allergic upper and lower airway diseases.

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Flagan, Richard C.0000-0001-5690-770X
Additional Information:© 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel. Received: January 10, 2005. Accepted after revision: August 18, 2005. Published online: November 4, 2005. This work was supported by the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center (NIEHS grant number 5P30 ES07048), Philip Morris USA Inc., Philip Morris International. P.T. was supported by a Boswell Fellowship which is a joint position intended to foster cooperation between Caltech and the Huntington Medical Research Institute. We thank Dr. Kyria Boundy-Mills, curator of the Pfaff Yeast Culture Collection, California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research, Davis, Calif., for the sequencing, Quest Nichols Diagnostics, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., for ImmunoCAP analysis, and Dr. Norman H. Brooks at Caltech for supplying rainfall data.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Southern California Environmental Health Sciences CenterUNSPECIFIED
NIEHS5P30 ES07048
Philip Morris InternationalUNSPECIFIED
Huntington Medical Research Institute (HMRI)UNSPECIFIED
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Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150818-104149646
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:59715
Deposited By: Irina Meininger
Deposited On:19 Aug 2015 22:36
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 22:24

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