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The fungal cell wall serves as the interface between the cell and the environment. Fungal cell walls are composed largely of polysaccharides, primarily glucans and chitin, though in many fungi stress-resistant cell types elaborate additional cell wall structures. Here, we use solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to compare the architecture of cell wall fractions isolated from Saccharomyces cerevisiae spores and Cryptococcus neoformans melanized cells. The specialized cell walls of these two divergent fungi are highly similar in composition. Both use chitosan, the deacetylated derivative of chitin, as a scaffold on which a polyaromatic polymer, dityrosine and melanin, respectively, is assembled. Additionally, we demonstrate that a previously identified but uncharacterized component of the S. cerevisiae spore wall is composed of triglycerides, which are also present in the C. neoformans melanized cell wall. Moreover, we identify a tyrosine-derived constituent in the C. neoformans wall that, although it is not dityrosine, is a non-pigment constituent of the cell wall. The similar composition of the walls of these two phylogenetically distant species suggests that triglycerides, polyaromatics, and chitosan are basic building blocks used to assemble highly stress-resistant cell walls and the use of these constituents may be broadly conserved in other fungal species.


This work was originally published in the Journal of Fungi, available at

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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