About MitoFun

The diagram below represents the ‘division of labour’, how Cryptococcus gattii is able to survive in the immune system’s cells (the macrophages).  Cryptococcus gattii is a sneaky pathogen which makes the macrophage a cosy environment in which to survive, instead of being destroyed.  MitoFun aims to understand how this works and how to prevent it.

This diagram shows that:

  1. A.A macrophage is hunting for intruders.  A macrophage is a large white blood cell in the body that ingests foreign particles & infectious microorganisms by a process known as phagocytosis.  The intruders are pathogens – bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms that can cause disease (in this case Cryptococcus gattii fungal cells).

  2. B.The fungal cells are phagocytosed (ie. ingested) by the macrophage.  Note the shape of fungal mitochondria (in yellow).

  3. C.The macrophage releases hydrogen peroxide (H202) to destroy the pathogens.

  4. D.One of the pathogens becomes a ‘bodyguard’ of the other cells and destroys H202.  This is associated with a change in shape of the mitochondria, which are now tubularised.

  5. E.The other fungal cells start to multiply (proliferate).

  6. F.Proliferated Cryptococci are released from the macrophage.  Note that the guard cell does not proliferate.

Read more in our publication ‘“Division of labour” in response to host oxidative burst drives a fatal Cryptococcus gattii outbreak’, Voelz, Johnston A, Smith L, Hall R, Idnurm A, May R, Nature Communications, 2014, 5:5194.


This project is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Framework 7 Programme (FP/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement No. 614562