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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1997 July; 41(7): 1482–1487.
PMCID: PMC163944

Increased mRNA levels of ERG16, CDR, and MDR1 correlate with increases in azole resistance in Candida albicans isolates from a patient infected with human immunodeficiency virus.


Resistance to antifungal drugs, specifically azoles such as fluconazole, in the opportunistic yeast Candida albicans has become an increasing problem in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals. The molecular mechanisms responsible for this resistance have only recently become apparent and can include alterations in the target enzyme of the azole drugs (lanosterol 14alpha demethylase [14DM]), or in various efflux pumps from both the ABC transporter and major facilitator gene families. To determine which of these possible mechanisms was associated with the development of drug resistance in a particular case, mRNA levels have been studied in a series of 17 clinical isolates taken from a single HIV-infected patient over 2 years, during which time the levels of fluconazole resistance of the strain increased over 200-fold. Using Northern blot analysis of steady-state levels of total RNA from these isolates, we observed increased mRNA levels of ERG16 (the 14DM-encoding gene), CDR1 (an ABC transporter), and MDR1 (a major facilitator) in this series. The timing of the increase in mRNA levels of each of these genes correlated with increases in fluconazole resistance of the isolates. Increased mRNA levels were not observed for three other ABC transporters, two other genes in the ergosterol biosynthetic pathway, or the NADPH-cytochrome P-450 oxidoreductase gene that transfers electrons from NADPH to 14DM. Increases in mRNA levels of ERG16 and CDR1 correlated with increased cross-resistance to ketoconazole and itraconazole but not to amphotericin B. A compilation of the genetic alterations identified in this series suggests that resistance develops gradually and is the sum of several different changes, all of which contribute to the final resistant phenotype.

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Selected References

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