MAP kinases are dual phosphorylated protein kinases, present in eukaryotes, which mediate differentiation programs and immune responses in mammalian cells. In pathogenic fungi, MAP kinases are key elements that control adaptation to environmental stress. Recent studies have shown that these pathways have an essential role in the control of essential virulence factors such as capsule biogenesis in Cryptococcus neoformans or morphogenesis, invasion and oxidative stress in Candida albicans. Although MAP kinases sense different activating signals, there is a considerable degree of crosstalk and/or overlap, which enables them to integrate, amplify and modulate the appropriate protective and adaptive response. MAP kinases behave as a 'functional nervous system' that controls virulence and influences the progression of the disease. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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