‘Hypermutators’ drive pathogenic fungi to evolve more rapidly

(Duke University) For nearly two decades, a rare but potentially deadly fungus called Cryptococcus deuterogattii has gained a foothold in the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver Island. Duke researchers recently showed that lineages of the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus deuterogattii house a specific mutation in their DNA that increases their mutation rate. These hypermutators, as they are called, rapidly develop resistance to the antifungal drugs FK506 and rapamycin.