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1.  Azole Binding Properties of Candida albicans Sterol 14-α Demethylase (CaCYP51)▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2010;54(10):4235-4245.
Purified Candida albicans sterol 14-α demethylase (CaCYP51) bound the CYP51 substrates lanosterol and eburicol, producing type I binding spectra with Ks values of 11 and 25 μM, respectively, and a Km value of 6 μM for lanosterol. Azole binding to CaCYP51 was “tight” with both the type II spectral intensity (ΔAmax) and the azole concentration required to obtain a half-ΔAmax being proportional to the CaCYP51 concentration. Tight binding of fluconazole and itraconazole was confirmed by 50% inhibitory concentration determinations from CYP51 reconstitution assays. CaCYP51 had similar affinities for clotrimazole, econazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, miconazole, and voriconazole, with Kd values of 10 to 26 μM under oxidative conditions, compared with 47 μM for fluconazole. The affinities of CaCYP51 for fluconazole and itraconazole appeared to be 4- and 2-fold lower based on CO displacement studies than those when using direct ligand binding under oxidative conditions. Econazole and miconazole were most readily displaced by carbon monoxide, followed by clotrimazole, ketoconazole, and fluconazole, and then voriconazole (7.8 pmol min−1), but itraconzole could not be displaced by carbon monoxide. This work reports in depth the characterization of the azole binding properties of wild-type C. albicans CYP51, including that of voriconazole, and will contribute to effective screening of new therapeutic azole antifungal agents. Preliminary comparative studies with the I471T CaCYP51 protein suggested that fluconazole resistance conferred by this mutation was through a combination of increased turnover, increased affinity for substrate, and a reduced affinity for fluconazole in the presence of substrate, allowing the enzyme to remain functionally active, albeit at reduced velocity, at higher fluconazole concentrations.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00587-10
PMCID: PMC2944560  PMID: 20625155
2.  Azole Affinity of Sterol 14α-Demethylase (CYP51) Enzymes from Candida albicans and Homo sapiens 
Candida albicans CYP51 (CaCYP51) (Erg11), full-length Homo sapiens CYP51 (HsCYP51), and truncated Δ60HsCYP51 were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. CaCYP51 and both HsCYP51 enzymes bound lanosterol (Ks, 14 to 18 μM) and catalyzed the 14α-demethylation of lanosterol using Homo sapiens cytochrome P450 reductase and NADPH as redox partners. Both HsCYP51 enzymes bound clotrimazole, itraconazole, and ketoconazole tightly (dissociation constants [Kds], 42 to 131 nM) but bound fluconazole (Kd, ∼30,500 nM) and voriconazole (Kd, ∼2,300 nM) weakly, whereas CaCYP51 bound all five medical azole drugs tightly (Kds, 10 to 56 nM). Selectivity for CaCYP51 over HsCYP51 ranged from 2-fold (clotrimazole) to 540-fold (fluconazole) among the medical azoles. In contrast, selectivity for CaCYP51 over Δ60HsCYP51 with agricultural azoles ranged from 3-fold (tebuconazole) to 9-fold (propiconazole). Prothioconazole bound extremely weakly to CaCYP51 and Δ60HsCYP51, producing atypical type I UV-visible difference spectra (Kds, 6,100 and 910 nM, respectively), indicating that binding was not accomplished through direct coordination with the heme ferric ion. Prothioconazole-desthio (the intracellular derivative of prothioconazole) bound tightly to both CaCYP51 and Δ60HsCYP51 (Kd, ∼40 nM). These differences in binding affinities were reflected in the observed 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) values, which were 9- to 2,000-fold higher for Δ60HsCYP51 than for CaCYP51, with the exception of tebuconazole, which strongly inhibited both CYP51 enzymes. In contrast, prothioconazole weakly inhibited CaCYP51 (IC50, ∼150 μM) and did not significantly inhibit Δ60HsCYP51.
doi:10.1128/AAC.02067-12
PMCID: PMC3591892  PMID: 23274672
3.  Genetic Basis for Differential Activities of Fluconazole and Voriconazole against Candida krusei 
Invasive infections caused by Candida krusei are a significant concern because this organism is intrinsically resistant to fluconazole. Voriconazole is more active than fluconazole against C. krusei in vitro. One mechanism of fluconazole resistance in C. krusei is diminished sensitivity of the target enzyme, cytochrome P450 sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51), to inhibition by this drug. We investigated the interactions of fluconazole and voriconazole with the CYP51s of C. krusei (ckCYP51) and fluconazole-susceptible Candida albicans (caCYP51). We found that voriconazole was a more potent inhibitor of both ckCYP51 and caCYP51 in cell extracts than was fluconazole. Also, the ckCYP51 was less sensitive to inhibition by both drugs than was caCYP51. These results were confirmed by expressing the CYP51 genes from C. krusei and C. albicans in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and determining the susceptibility of the transformants to voriconazole and fluconazole. We constructed homology models of the CYP51s of C. albicans and C. krusei based on the crystal structure of CYP51 from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These models predicted that voriconazole is a more potent inhibitor of both caCYP51 and ckCYP51 than is fluconazole, because the extra methyl group of voriconazole results in a stronger hydrophobic interaction with the aromatic amino acids in the substrate binding site and more extensive filling of this site. Although there are multiple differences in the predicted amino acid sequence of caCYP51 and ckCYP51, the models of the two enzymes were quite similar and the mechanism for the relative resistance of ckCYP51 to the azoles was not apparent.
doi:10.1128/AAC.47.4.1213-1219.2003
PMCID: PMC152512  PMID: 12654649
4.  Heterologous Expression and Characterization of the Sterol 14α-Demethylase CYP51F1 from Candida albicans 
Lanosterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51F1) from Candida albicans is known to be an essential enzyme in fungal sterol biosynthesis. Wild-type CYP51F1 and several of its mutants were heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli, purified, and characterized. It exhibited a typical reduced CO-difference spectrum with a maximum at 446 nm. Reconstitution of CYP51F1 with NADPH-P450 reductase gave a system that successfully converted lanosterol to its demethylated product. Titration of the purified enzyme with lanosterol produced a typical type I spectral change with Kd = 6.7 μM. The azole antifungal agents econazole, fluconazole, ketoconazole, and itraconazole bound tightly to CYP51F1 with Kd values between 0.06 – 0.42 μM. The CYP51F1 mutations F105L, D116E, Y132H, and R467K frequently identified in clinical isolates were examined to determine their effect on azole drug binding affinity. The azole Kd values of the purified F105L, D116E, and R467K mutants were little altered. A homology model of C. albicans CYP51F1 suggested that Tyr132 in the BC loop is located close to the heme in the active site, providing a rationale for the modified heme environment caused by the Y132H substitution. Taken together, functional expression and characterization of CYP51F1 provide a starting basis for design of agents effective against C. albicans infections.
doi:10.1016/j.abb.2011.02.002
PMCID: PMC3079055  PMID: 21315684
P450; CYP51; lanosterol; azole; Candida albicans
5.  Amino Acid Substitutions at the Major Insertion Loop of Candida albicans Sterol 14alpha-Demethylase Are Involved in Fluconazole Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21239.
Background
In the fungal pathogen Candida albicans, amino acid substitutions of 14alpha-demethylase (CaErg11p, CaCYP51) are associated with azole antifungals resistance. This is an area of research which is very dynamic, since the stakes concern the screening of new antifungals which circumvent resistance. The impact of amino acid substitutions on azole interaction has been postulated by homology modeling in comparison to the crystal structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MT-CYP51). Modeling of amino acid residues situated between positions 428 to 459 remains difficult to explain to date, because they are in a major insertion loop specifically present in fungal species.
Methodology/Principal Finding
Fluconazole resistance of clinical isolates displaying Y447H and V456I novel CaErg11p substitutions confirmed in vivo in a murine model of disseminated candidiasis. Y447H and V456I implication into fluconazole resistance was then studied by site-directed mutagenesis of wild-type CaErg11p and by heterogeneously expression into the Pichia pastoris model. CLSI modified tests showed that V447H and V456I are responsible for an 8-fold increase in fluconazole MICs of P. pastoris mutants compared to the wild-type controls. Moreover, mutants showed a sustained capacity for producing ergosterol, even in the presence of fluconazole. Based on these biological results, we are the first to propose a hybrid homology structure-function model of Ca-CYP51 using 3 different homology modeling programs. The variable position of the protein insertion loop, using different liganded or non-liganded templates of recently solved CYP51 structures, suggests its inherent flexibility. Mapping of recognized azole-resistant substitutions indicated that the flexibility of this region is probably enhanced by the relatively high glycine content of the consensus.
Conclusions/Significance
The results highlight the potential role of the insertion loop in azole resistance in the human pathogen C. albicans. This new data should be taken into consideration for future studies aimed at designing new antifungal agents, which circumvent azole resistance.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021239
PMCID: PMC3116904  PMID: 21698128
6.  Prothioconazole and Prothioconazole-Desthio Activities against Candida albicans Sterol 14-α-Demethylase 
Prothioconazole is a new triazolinthione fungicide used in agriculture. We have used Candida albicans CYP51 (CaCYP51) to investigate the in vitro activity of prothioconazole and to consider the use of such compounds in the medical arena. Treatment of C. albicans cells with prothioconazole, prothioconazole-desthio, and voriconazole resulted in CYP51 inhibition, as evidenced by the accumulation of 14α-methylated sterol substrates (lanosterol and eburicol) and the depletion of ergosterol. We then compared the inhibitor binding properties of prothioconazole, prothioconazole-desthio, and voriconazole with CaCYP51. We observed that prothioconazole-desthio and voriconazole bind noncompetitively to CaCYP51 in the expected manner of azole antifungals (with type II inhibitors binding to heme as the sixth ligand), while prothioconazole binds competitively and does not exhibit classic inhibitor binding spectra. Inhibition of CaCYP51 activity in a cell-free assay demonstrated that prothioconazole-desthio is active, whereas prothioconazole does not inhibit CYP51 activity. Extracts from C. albicans grown in the presence of prothioconazole were found to contain prothioconazole-desthio. We conclude that the antifungal action of prothioconazole can be attributed to prothioconazole-desthio.
doi:10.1128/AEM.03246-12
PMCID: PMC3591943  PMID: 23275516
7.  Amino Acid Substitutions in the Cytochrome P-450 Lanosterol 14α-Demethylase (CYP51A1) from Azole-Resistant Candida albicans Clinical Isolates Contribute to Resistance to Azole Antifungal Agents 
The cytochrome P-450 lanosterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51A1) of yeasts is involved in an important step in the biosynthesis of ergosterol. Since CYP51A1 is the target of azole antifungal agents, this enzyme is potentially prone to alterations leading to resistance to these agents. Among them, a decrease in the affinity of CYP51A1 for these agents is possible. We showed in a group of Candida albicans isolates from AIDS patients that multidrug efflux transporters were playing an important role in the resistance of C. albicans to azole antifungal agents, but without excluding the involvement of other factors (D. Sanglard, K. Kuchler, F. Ischer, J.-L. Pagani, M. Monod, and J. Bille, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 39:2378–2386, 1995). We therefore analyzed in closer detail changes in the affinity of CYP51A1 for azole antifungal agents. A strategy consisting of functional expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae of the C. albicans CYP51A1 genes of sequential clinical isolates from patients was designed. This selection, which was coupled with a test of susceptibility to the azole derivatives fluconazole, ketoconazole, and itraconazole, enabled the detection of mutations in different cloned CYP51A1 genes, whose products are potentially affected in their affinity for azole derivatives. This selection enabled the detection of five different mutations in the cloned CYP51A1 genes which correlated with the occurrence of azole resistance in clinical C. albicans isolates. These mutations were as follows: replacement of the glycine at position 129 with alanine (G129A), Y132H, S405F, G464S, and R467K. While the S405F mutation was found as a single amino acid substitution in a CYP51A1 gene from an azole-resistant yeast, other mutations were found simultaneously in individual CYP51A1 genes, i.e., R467K with G464S, S405F with Y132H, G129A with G464S, and R467K with G464S and Y132H. Site-directed mutagenesis of a wild-type CYP51A1 gene was performed to estimate the effect of each of these mutations on resistance to azole derivatives. Each single mutation, with the exception of G129A, had a measurable effect on the affinity of the target enzyme for specific azole derivatives. We speculate that these specific mutations could combine with the effect of multidrug efflux transporters in the clinical isolates and contribute to different patterns and stepwise increases in resistance to azole derivatives.
PMCID: PMC105395  PMID: 9527767
8.  Structural Characterization of CYP51 from Trypanosoma cruzi and Trypanosoma brucei Bound to the Antifungal Drugs Posaconazole and Fluconazole 
Background
Chagas Disease is the leading cause of heart failure in Latin America. Current drug therapy is limited by issues of both efficacy and severe side effects. Trypansoma cruzi, the protozoan agent of Chagas Disease, is closely related to two other major global pathogens, Leishmania spp., responsible for leishmaniasis, and Trypansoma brucei, the causative agent of African Sleeping Sickness. Both T. cruzi and Leishmania parasites have an essential requirement for ergosterol, and are thus vulnerable to inhibitors of sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51), which catalyzes the conversion of lanosterol to ergosterol. Clinically employed anti-fungal azoles inhibit ergosterol biosynthesis in fungi, and specific azoles are also effective against both Trypanosoma and Leishmania parasites. However, modification of azoles to enhance efficacy and circumvent potential drug resistance has been problematic for both parasitic and fungal infections due to the lack of structural insights into drug binding.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We have determined the crystal structures for CYP51 from T. cruzi (resolutions of 2.35 Å and 2.27 Å), and from the related pathogen T. brucei (resolutions of 2.7 Å and 2.6 Å), co-crystallized with the antifungal drugs fluconazole and posaconazole. Remarkably, both drugs adopt multiple conformations when binding the target. The fluconazole 2,4-difluorophenyl ring flips 180° depending on the H-bonding interactions with the BC-loop. The terminus of the long functional tail group of posaconazole is bound loosely in the mouth of the hydrophobic substrate binding tunnel, suggesting that the major contribution of the tail to drug efficacy is for pharmacokinetics rather than in interactions with the target.
Conclusions/Significance
The structures provide new insights into binding of azoles to CYP51 and mechanisms of potential drug resistance. Our studies define in structural detail the CYP51 therapeutic target in T. cruzi, and offer a starting point for rationally designed anti-Chagasic drugs with improved efficacy and reduced toxicity.
Author Summary
Chagas Disease is caused by kinetoplastid protozoa Trypanosoma cruzi, whose sterols resemble those of fungi, in both composition and biosynthetic pathway. Azole inhibitors of sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51), such as fluconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole, and posaconazole, successfully treat fungal infections in humans. Efforts have been made to translate anti-fungal azoles into a second-use application for Chagas Disease. Ravuconazole and posaconazole have been recently proposed as candidates for clinical trials with Chagas Disease patients. However, the widespread use of posaconazole for long-term treatment of chronic infections may be limited by hepatic and renal toxicity, a requirement for simultaneous intake of a fatty meal or nutritional supplement to enhance absorption, and cost. To aid our search for structurally and synthetically simple CYP51 inhibitors, we have determined the crystal structures of the CYP51 targets in T. cruzi and T. brucei, both bound to the anti-fungal drugs fluconazole or posaconazole. The structures provide a basis for a design of new drugs targeting Chagas Disease, and also make it possible to model the active site characteristics of the highly homologous Leishmania CYP51. This work provides a foundation for rational synthesis of new therapeutic agents targeting the three kinetoplastid parasites.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000651
PMCID: PMC2850312  PMID: 20386598
9.  Cross-species discovery of syncretic drug combinations that potentiate the antifungal fluconazole 
The authors screen for compounds that show synergistic antifungal activity when combined with the widely-used fungistatic drug fluconazole. Chemogenomic profiling explains the mode of action of synergistic drugs and allows the prediction of additional drug synergies.
The authors screen for compounds that show synergistic antifungal activity when combined with the widely-used fungistatic drug fluconazole. Chemogenomic profiling explains the mode of action of synergistic drugs and allows the prediction of additional drug synergies.
Chemical screens with a library enriched for known drugs identified a diverse set of 148 compounds that potentiated the action of the antifungal drug fluconazole against the fungal pathogens Cryptococcus neoformans, Cryptococcus gattii and Candida albicans, and the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, often in a species-specific manner.Chemogenomic profiles of six confirmed hits in S. cerevisiae revealed different modes of action and enabled the prediction of additional synergistic combinations; three-way synergistic interactions exhibited even stronger synergies at low doses of fluconazole.The synergistic combination of fluconazole and the antidepressant sertraline was active against fluconazole-resistant clinical fungal isolates and in an in vivo model of Cryptococcal infection.
Rising fungal infection rates, especially among immune-suppressed individuals, represent a serious clinical challenge (Gullo, 2009). Cancer, organ transplant and HIV patients, for example, often succumb to opportunistic fungal pathogens. The limited repertoire of approved antifungal agents and emerging drug resistance in the clinic further complicate the effective treatment of systemic fungal infections. At the molecular level, the paucity of fungal-specific essential targets arises from the conserved nature of cellular functions from yeast to humans, as well as from the fact that many essential yeast genes can confer viability at a fraction of wild-type dosage (Yan et al, 2009). Although only ∼1100 of the ∼6000 genes in yeast are essential, almost all genes become essential in specific genetic backgrounds in which another non-essential gene has been deleted or otherwise attenuated, an effect termed synthetic lethality (Tong et al, 2001). Genome-scale surveys suggest that over 200 000 binary synthetic lethal gene combinations dominate the yeast genetic landscape (Costanzo et al, 2010). The genetic buffering phenomenon is also manifest as a plethora of differential chemical–genetic interactions in the presence of sublethal doses of bioactive compounds (Hillenmeyer et al, 2008). These observations frame the difficulty of interdicting network functions in eukaryotic pathogens with single agent therapeutics. At the same time, however, this genetic network organization suggests that judicious combinations of small molecule inhibitors of both essential and non-essential targets may elicit additive or synergistic effects on cell growth (Sharom et al, 2004; Lehar et al, 2008). Unbiased screens for drugs that synergistically enhance a specific bioactive effect, but which are not themselves individually active—termed a syncretic combination—are one means to substantially elaborate chemical space (Keith et al, 2005). Indeed, compounds that enhance the activity of known agents in model yeast and cancer cell line systems have been identified both by focused small molecule library screens and by computational methods (Borisy et al, 2003; Lehar et al, 2007; Nelander et al, 2008; Jansen et al, 2009; Zinner et al, 2009).
To extend the stratagem of chemical synthetic lethality to clinically relevant fungal pathogens, we screened a bioactive library of known drugs for synergistic enhancers of the widely used fungistatic drug fluconazole against the clinically relevant pathogens C. albicans, C. neoformans and C. gattii, as well as the genetically tractable budding yeast S. cerevisiae. Fluconazole is an azole drug that inhibits lanosterol 14α-demethylase, the gene product of ERG11, an essential cytochrome P450 enzyme in the ergosterol biosynthetic pathway (Groll et al, 1998). We identified 148 drugs that potentiate the antifungal action of fluconazole against the four species. These syncretic compounds had not been previously recognized in the clinic as antifungal agents, and many acted in a species-specific manner, often in a potent fungicidal manner.
To understand the mechanisms of synergism, we interrogated six syncretic drugs—trifluoperazine, tamoxifen, clomiphene, sertraline, suloctidil and L-cycloserine—in genome-wide chemogenomic profiles of the S. cerevisiae deletion strain collection (Giaever et al, 1999). These profiles revealed that membrane, vesicle trafficking and lipid biosynthesis pathways are targeted by five of the synergizers, whereas the sphingolipid biosynthesis pathway is targeted by L-cycloserine. Cell biological assays confirmed the predicted membrane disruption effects of the former group of compounds, which may perturb ergosterol metabolism, impair fluconazole export by drug efflux pumps and/or affect active import of fluconazole (Kuo et al, 2010; Mansfield et al, 2010). Based on the integration of chemical–genetic and genetic interaction space, a signature set of deletion strains that are sensitive to the membrane active synergizers correctly predicted additional drug synergies with fluconazole. Similarly, the L-cycloserine chemogenomic profile correctly predicted a synergistic interaction between fluconazole and myriocin, another inhibitor of sphingolipid biosynthesis. The structure of genetic networks suggests that it should be possible to devise higher order drug combinations with even greater selectivity and potency (Sharom et al, 2004). In an initial test of this concept, we found that the combination of a non-synergistic pair drawn from the membrane active and sphingolipid target classes exhibited potent three-way synergism with a low dose of fluconazole. Finally, the combination of sertraline and fluconazole was active in a G. mellonella model of Cryptococcal infection, and was also efficacious against fluconazole-resistant clinical isolates of C. albicans and C. glabrata.
Collectively, these results demonstrate that the combinatorial redeployment of known drugs defines a powerful antifungal strategy and establish a number of potential lead combinations for future clinical assessment.
Resistance to widely used fungistatic drugs, particularly to the ergosterol biosynthesis inhibitor fluconazole, threatens millions of immunocompromised patients susceptible to invasive fungal infections. The dense network structure of synthetic lethal genetic interactions in yeast suggests that combinatorial network inhibition may afford increased drug efficacy and specificity. We carried out systematic screens with a bioactive library enriched for off-patent drugs to identify compounds that potentiate fluconazole action in pathogenic Candida and Cryptococcus strains and the model yeast Saccharomyces. Many compounds exhibited species- or genus-specific synergism, and often improved fluconazole from fungistatic to fungicidal activity. Mode of action studies revealed two classes of synergistic compound, which either perturbed membrane permeability or inhibited sphingolipid biosynthesis. Synergistic drug interactions were rationalized by global genetic interaction networks and, notably, higher order drug combinations further potentiated the activity of fluconazole. Synergistic combinations were active against fluconazole-resistant clinical isolates and an in vivo model of Cryptococcus infection. The systematic repurposing of approved drugs against a spectrum of pathogens thus identifies network vulnerabilities that may be exploited to increase the activity and repertoire of antifungal agents.
doi:10.1038/msb.2011.31
PMCID: PMC3159983  PMID: 21694716
antifungal; combination; pathogen; resistance; synergism
10.  The R467K Amino Acid Substitution in Candida albicans Sterol 14α-Demethylase Causes Drug Resistance through Reduced Affinity 
The cytochrome P450 sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51) of Candida albicans is involved in an essential step of ergosterol biosynthesis and is the target for azole antifungal compounds. We have undertaken site-directed mutation of C. albicans CYP51 to produce a recombinant mutant protein with the amino acid substitution R467K corresponding to a mutation observed clinically. This alteration perturbed the heme environment causing an altered reduced-carbon monoxide difference spectrum with a maximum at 452 nm and reduced the affinity of the enzyme for fluconazole, as shown by ligand binding studies. The specific activity of CYP51(R467K) for the release of formic acid from 3β-[32-3H]hydroxylanost-7-en-32-ol was 70 pmol/nmol of P450/min for microsomal protein compared to 240 pmol/nmol of P450/min for microsomal fractions expressing wild-type CYP51. Furthermore, inhibition of activity by fluconazole revealed a 7.5-fold-greater azole resistance of the recombinant protein than that of the wild type. This study demonstrates that resistance observed clinically can result from the altered azole affinity of the fungal CYP51 enzyme.
PMCID: PMC89629  PMID: 10602724
11.  Expression, Purification, and Characterization of Aspergillus fumigatus Sterol 14-α Demethylase (CYP51) Isoenzymes A and B▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2010;54(10):4225-4234.
Aspergillus fumigatus sterol 14-α demethylase (CYP51) isoenzymes A (AF51A) and B (AF51B) were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified. The dithionite-reduced CO-P450 complex for AF51A was unstable, rapidly denaturing to inactive P420, in marked contrast to AF51B, where the CO-P450 complex was stable. Type I substrate binding spectra were obtained with purified AF51B using lanosterol (Ks, 8.6 μM) and eburicol (Ks, 22.6 μM). Membrane suspensions of AF51A bound to both lanosterol (Ks, 3.1 μM) and eburicol (Ks, 4.1 μM). The binding of azoles, with the exception of fluconazole, to AF51B was tight, with the Kd (dissociation constant) values for clotrimazole, itraconazole, posaconazole, and voriconazole being 0.21, 0.06, 0.12, and 0.42 μM, respectively, in comparison with a Kd value of 4 μM for fluconazole. Characteristic type II azole binding spectra were obtained with AF51B, whereas an additional trough and a blue-shifted spectral peak were present in AF51A binding spectra for all azoles except clotrimazole. This suggests two distinct azole binding conformations within the heme prosthetic group of AF51A. All five azoles bound relatively weakly to AF51A, with Kd values ranging from 1 μM for itraconazole to 11.9 μM for fluconazole. The azole binding properties of purified AF51A and AF51B suggest an explanation for the intrinsic azole (fluconazole) resistance observed in Aspergillus fumigatus.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00316-10
PMCID: PMC2944604  PMID: 20660663
12.  Formation of Azole-Resistant Candida albicans by Mutation of Sterol 14-Demethylase P450 
The sterol 14-demethylase P450 (CYP51) of a fluconazole-resistant isolate of Candida albicans, DUMC136, showed reduced susceptibility to this azole but with little change in its catalytic activity. Twelve nucleotide substitutions, resulting in four amino acid changes, were identified in the DUMC136 CYP51 gene in comparison with a reported CYP51 sequence from a wild-type, fluconazole-susceptible C. albicans strain. Seven of these substitutions, including all of those causing amino acid changes, were located within a region covering one of the putative substrate recognition sites of the enzyme (SRS-1). Polymorphisms within this region were observed in several C. albicans isolates, and some were found to be CYP51 heterozygotes. Among the amino acid changes occurring in this region, only an alteration of Y132 was common among these fluconazole-resistant isolates, which suggests the importance of this residue to the fluconazole resistance of the target enzyme. DUMC136 and another fluconazole-resistant isolate were homozygotes with respect to CYP51, although the typical wild-type, fluconazole-susceptible C. albicans was a CYP51 heterozygote. These findings suggest that part of the fluconazole-resistant phenotype of C. albicans DUMC136 was acquired through a mutation-prone area of CYP51, an area which might promote the formation of fluconazole-resistant CYP51, along with a mechanism(s) which allows the formation of a homozygote of this altered CYP51 in this diploid pathogenic yeast.
PMCID: PMC89127  PMID: 10223930
13.  In Vitro Antifungal Activities of Bis(Alkylpyridinium)Alkane Compounds against Pathogenic Yeasts and Molds▿  
Ten bis(alkylpyridinium)alkane compounds were tested for antifungal activity against 19 species (26 isolates) of yeasts and molds. We then determined the MICs and minimum fungicidal concentrations (MFCs) of four of the most active compounds (compounds 1, 4, 5, and 8) against 80 Candida and 20 cryptococcal isolates, in comparison with the MICs of amphotericin B, fluconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole, posaconazole, and caspofungin, using Clinical Laboratory and Standards Institutes broth microdulition M27-A3 (yeasts) or M38-A2 (filamentous fungi) susceptibility protocols. The compounds were more potent against Candida and Cryptococcus spp. (MIC range, 0.74 to 27.9 μg/ml) than molds (0.74 to 59.7 μg/ml). MICs against Exophiala were 0.37 to 5.9 μg/ml and as low as 1.48 μg/ml for Scedosporium but ≥25 μg/ml for zygomycetes, Aspergillus, and Fusarium spp. Compounds 1, 4, 5, and 8 exhibited good fungicidal activity against Candida and Cryptococcus, except for Candida parapsilosis (MICs of >44 μg/ml). Geometric mean (GM) MICs were similar to those of amphotericin B and lower than or comparable to fluconazole GM MICs but 10- to 100-fold greater than those for the other azoles. GM MICs against Candida glabrata were <1 μg/ml, significantly lower than fluconazole GM MICs (P < 0.001) and similar to those of itraconazole, posaconazole, and voriconazole (GM MIC range of 0.4 to 1.23 μg/ml). The GM MIC of compound 4 against Candida guilliermondii was lower than that of fluconazole (1.69 μg/ml versus 7.48 μg/ml; P = 0.012). MICs against Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii were similar to those of fluconazole. The GM MIC of compound 4 was significantly higher for C. neoformans (3.83 μg/ml versus 1.81 μg/ml for C. gattii; P = 0.015). This study has identified clinically relevant in vitro antifungal activities of novel bisalkypyridinium alkane compounds.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00231-10
PMCID: PMC2916307  PMID: 20530227
14.  Molecular biological characterization of an azole-resistant Candida glabrata isolate. 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  1997;41(10):2229-2237.
Two isolates of Candida glabrata, one susceptible and one resistant to azole antifungals, were previously shown to differ in quantity and activity of the cytochrome P-450 14alpha-lanosterol demethylase which is the target for azole antifungals. The resistant isolate also had a lower intracellular level of fluconazole, but not of ketoconazole or itraconazole, than the susceptible isolate. In the present study a 3.7-fold increase in the copy number of the CYP51 gene, encoding the 14alpha-lanosterol demethylase, was found. The amount of CYP51 mRNA transcript in the resistant isolate was eight times greater than it was in the susceptible isolate. Hybridization experiments on chromosomal blots indicated that this increase in copy number was due to duplication of the entire chromosome containing the CYP51 gene. The phenotypic instability of the resistant isolate was demonstrated genotypically: a gradual loss of the duplicated chromosome was seen in successive subcultures of the isolate in fluconazole-free medium and correlated with reversion to susceptibility. The greater abundance of the amplified chromosome induced pronounced differences in the protein patterns of the susceptible and revertant isolates versus that of the resistant isolate, as demonstrated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2D-GE). Densitometry of the 2D-GE product indicated upregulation of at least 25 proteins and downregulation of at least 76 proteins in the resistant isolate.
PMCID: PMC164098  PMID: 9333053
15.  A Gain-of-Function Mutation in the Transcription Factor Upc2p Causes Upregulation of Ergosterol Biosynthesis Genes and Increased Fluconazole Resistance in a Clinical Candida albicans Isolate▿ †  
Eukaryotic Cell  2008;7(7):1180-1190.
In the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans, the zinc cluster transcription factor Upc2p has been shown to regulate the expression of ERG11 and other genes involved in ergosterol biosynthesis upon exposure to azole antifungals. ERG11 encodes lanosterol demethylase, the target enzyme of this antifungal class. Overexpression of UPC2 reduces azole susceptibility, whereas its disruption results in hypersusceptibility to azoles and reduced accumulation of exogenous sterols. Overexpression of ERG11 leads to the increased production of lanosterol demethylase, which contributes to azole resistance in clinical isolates of C. albicans, but the mechanism for this has yet to be determined. Using genome-wide gene expression profiling, we found UPC2 and other genes involved in ergosterol biosynthesis to be coordinately upregulated with ERG11 in a fluconazole-resistant clinical isolate compared with a matched susceptible isolate from the same patient. Sequence analysis of the UPC2 alleles of these isolates revealed that the resistant isolate contained a single-nucleotide substitution in one UPC2 allele that resulted in a G648D exchange in the encoded protein. Introduction of the mutated allele into a drug-susceptible strain resulted in constitutive upregulation of ERG11 and increased resistance to fluconazole. By comparing the gene expression profiles of the fluconazole-resistant isolate and of strains carrying wild-type and mutated UPC2 alleles, we identified target genes that are controlled by Upc2p. Here we show for the first time that a gain-of-function mutation in UPC2 leads to the increased expression of ERG11 and imparts resistance to fluconazole in clinical isolates of C. albicans.
doi:10.1128/EC.00103-08
PMCID: PMC2446669  PMID: 18487346
16.  Three-Dimensional Models of Wild-Type and Mutated Forms of Cytochrome P450 14α-Sterol Demethylases from Aspergillus fumigatus and Candida albicans Provide Insights into Posaconazole Binding 
The cytochrome P450 sterol 14α-demethylase enzyme (CYP51) is the target of azole antifungals. Azoles block ergosterol synthesis, and thereby fungal growth, by binding in the active-site cavity of the enzyme and ligating the iron atom of the heme cofactor through a nitrogen atom of the azole. Mutations in and around the CYP51 active site have resulted in azole resistance. In this work, homology models of the CYP51 enzymes from Aspergillus fumigatus and Candida albicans were constructed based on the X-ray crystal structure of CYP51 from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Using these models, binding modes for voriconazole (VOR), fluconazole (FLZ), itraconazole (ITZ), and posaconazole (POS) were predicted from docking calculations. Previous work had demonstrated that mutations in the vicinity of the heme cofactor had a greater impact on the binding of FLZ and VOR than on the binding of POS and ITZ. Our modeling data suggest that the long side chains of POS and ITZ occupy a specific channel within CYP51 and that this additional interaction, which is not available to VOR and FLZ, serves to stabilize the binding of these azoles to the mutated CYP51 proteins. The model also predicts that mutations that were previously shown to specifically impact POS susceptibility in A. fumigatus and C. albicans act by interfering with the binding of the long side chain.
doi:10.1128/AAC.48.2.568-574.2004
PMCID: PMC321559  PMID: 14742211
17.  Characterization of an azole-resistant Candida glabrata isolate. 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  1992;36(12):2602-2610.
A Candida (Torulopsis) glabrata strain (B57149) became resistant to fluconazole after a patient carrying the organism was treated with the drug at 400 mg once daily for 9 days. Growth of the pretreatment isolate (B57148) was inhibited by 50% with 0.67 microM ketoconazole, 1.0 microM itraconazole, and 43 microM fluconazole, whereas growth of B57149 was inhibited slightly by 10 microM ketoconazole but was unaffected by 10 microM itraconazole or 100 microM fluconazole. This indicates cross-resistance to all three azole antifungal agents. The cellular fluconazole content of B57149 was from 1.5- to 3-fold lower than that of B57148, suggesting a difference in drug uptake between the strains. However, this difference was smaller than the measured difference in susceptibility and, therefore, cannot fully explain the fluconazole resistance of B57149. Moreover, the intracellular contents of ketoconazole and itraconazole differed by less than twofold between the strains, so that uptake differences did not account for the azole cross-resistance of B57149. The microsomal cytochrome P-450 content of B57149 was about twice that of B57148, a difference quantitatively similar to the increased subcellular ergosterol synthesis from mevalonate or lanosterol. These results indicate that the level of P-450-dependent 14 alpha-demethylation of lanosterol is higher in B57149. Increased ergosterol synthesis was also seen in intact B57149 cells, and this coincided with a decreased susceptibility of B57149 toward all three azoles and amphotericin B. B57149 also had higher squalene epoxidase activity, and thus, more terbinafine was needed to inhibit the synthesis of 2,3-oxidosqualene from squalene. P-450 content and ergosterol synthesis both decreased when isolate B57149 was subcultured repeatedly on drug-free medium. This repeated subculture also fully restored the strain's itraconazole susceptibility, but only partly increased its susceptibility to fluconazole. The results suggest that both lower fluconazole uptake and increased P-450-dependent ergosterol synthesis are involved in the mechanism of fluconazole resistance but that only the increased ergosterol synthesis contributes to itraconazole cross-resistance.
PMCID: PMC245514  PMID: 1482129
18.  Mechanism of Binding of Prothioconazole to Mycosphaerella graminicola CYP51 Differs from That of Other Azole Antifungals ▿  
Prothioconazole is one of the most important commercially available demethylase inhibitors (DMIs) used to treat Mycosphaerella graminicola infection of wheat, but specific information regarding its mode of action is not available in the scientific literature. Treatment of wild-type M. graminicola (strain IPO323) with 5 μg of epoxiconazole, tebuconazole, triadimenol, or prothioconazole ml−1 resulted in inhibition of M. graminicola CYP51 (MgCYP51), as evidenced by the accumulation of 14α-methylated sterol substrates (lanosterol and eburicol) and the depletion of ergosterol in azole-treated cells. Successful expression of MgCYP51 in Escherichia coli enabled us to conduct spectrophotometric assays using purified 62-kDa MgCYP51 protein. Antifungal-binding studies revealed that epoxiconazole, tebuconazole, and triadimenol all bound tightly to MgCYP51, producing strong type II difference spectra (peak at 423 to 429 nm and trough at 406 to 409 nm) indicative of the formation of classical low-spin sixth-ligand complexes. Interaction of prothioconazole with MgCYP51 exhibited a novel spectrum with a peak and trough observed at 410 nm and 428 nm, respectively, indicating a different mechanism of inhibition. Prothioconazole bound to MgCYP51 with 840-fold less affinity than epoxiconazole and, unlike epoxiconazole, tebuconazole, and triadimenol, which are noncompetitive inhibitors, prothioconazole was found to be a competitive inhibitor of substrate binding. This represents the first study to validate the effect of prothioconazole on the sterol composition of M. graminicola and the first on the successful heterologous expression of active MgCYP51 protein. The binding affinity studies documented here provide novel insights into the interaction of MgCYP51 with DMIs, especially for the new triazolinethione derivative prothioconazole.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01332-10
PMCID: PMC3067226  PMID: 21169436
19.  Multiple efflux mechanisms are involved in Candida albicans fluconazole resistance. 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  1996;40(12):2835-2841.
Fluconazole-susceptible Candida albicans strains accumulated [3H]fluconazole at a rate of approximately 2 pmol/min per 10(9) cells. Fluconazole accumulation was not affected by the pretreatment of cells with sodium azide or with 2-deoxyglucose. The rate of fluconazole accumulation became saturated at high fluconazole concentrations and was not affected by the addition of ketoconazole, and there was no fluconazole accumulation in cells incubated at 4 degrees C. A fluconazole-resistant mutant of C. albicans SGY-243 was isolated following growth enrichment in fluconazole-containing medium. Cells of the mutant strain, designated FR2, showed a reduced rate of fluconazole accumulation compared with SGY-243 and were not resistant to other azole antifungal agents. The rates of fluconazole accumulation by C. albicans FR2 and the other azole-resistant strains, B59630, AD, and KB, were increased in the presence of sodium azide, suggesting that fluconazole resistance in these strains may be associated with an energy-dependent drug efflux. Fluconazole-resistant C. albicans strains all contained elevated amounts (2- to 17-fold) of mRNA encoding Cdr1, and an ATP-binding cassette-type transporter. In addition, C. albicans FR2 also contained increased amounts of mRNA encoding Benr, a major facilitator superfamily transporter. These results suggest that fluconazole enters C. albicans cells by facilitated diffusion and that fluconazole resistance may involve energy-dependent drug efflux associated with increased expression of Benr and/or Cdr1.
PMCID: PMC163632  PMID: 9124851
20.  Ergosterol Biosynthesis Inhibitors Become Fungicidal when Combined with Calcineurin Inhibitors against Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, and Candida krusei 
Azoles target the ergosterol biosynthetic enzyme lanosterol 14α-demethylase and are a widely applied class of antifungal agents because of their broad therapeutic window, wide spectrum of activity, and low toxicity. Unfortunately, azoles are generally fungistatic and resistance to fluconazole is emerging in several fungal pathogens. We recently established that the protein phosphatase calcineurin allows survival of Candida albicans during the membrane stress exerted by azoles. The calcineurin inhibitors cyclosporine A (CsA) and tacrolimus (FK506) are dramatically synergistic with azoles, resulting in potent fungicidal activity, and mutant strains lacking calcineurin are markedly hypersensitive to azoles. Here we establish that drugs targeting other enzymes in the ergosterol biosynthetic pathway (terbinafine and fenpropimorph) also exhibit dramatic synergistic antifungal activity against wild-type C. albicans when used in conjunction with CsA and FK506. Similarly, C. albicans mutant strains lacking calcineurin B are markedly hypersensitive to terbinafine and fenpropimorph. The FK506 binding protein FKBP12 is required for FK506 synergism with ergosterol biosynthesis inhibitors, and a calcineurin mutation that confers FK506 resistance abolishes drug synergism. Additionally, we provide evidence of drug synergy between the nonimmunosuppressive FK506 analog L-685,818 and fenpropimorph or terbinafine against wild-type C. albicans. These drug combinations also exert synergistic effects against two other Candida species, C. glabrata and C. krusei, which are known for intrinsic or rapidly acquired resistance to azoles. These studies demonstrate that the activity of non-azole antifungal agents that target ergosterol biosynthesis can be enhanced by inhibition of the calcineurin signaling pathway, extending their spectrum of action and providing an alternative approach by which to overcome antifungal drug resistance.
doi:10.1128/AAC.47.3.956-964.2003
PMCID: PMC149324  PMID: 12604527
21.  EBP50 Phosphorylation by Cdc2/Cyclin B Kinase Affects Actin Cytoskeleton Reorganization and Regulates Functions of Human Breast Cancer Cell Line MDA-MB-231 
Molecules and Cells  2013;36(1):47-54.
The actin cytoskeleton plays an important role in cell shape determination, adhesion and cell cycle progression. Ezrin-radixin-moesin (ERM)-binding phosphoprotein 50 (EBP50), also known as Na+-H+ exchanger regulatory factor 1 (NHERF1), associates with actin cytoskeleton and is related to cell cycle progression. Its Ser279 and Ser301 residues are phosphorylated by cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (cdc2)/cyclin B during the mitosis phase. However, the biological significance of EBP50 phosphorylation mediated by cdc2/cyclin B is not clear. In the present study, MDA-MB-231 cells with low levels of endogenous EBP50 protein were stably transfected with constructs of EBP50 wild type (WT), phospho-deficient (serine 279 and serine 301 mutated to alanine-S279A/S301A) or phospho-mimetic (serine 279 and serine 301 mutated to aspartic acid-S279D/S301D) mutants. Subsequently, multiple phenotypes of these cells were characterized. Failure of cdc2/cyclin B-mediated EBP50 phosphorylation in cells expressing S279A/S301A (AA cells) significantly increased F-actin content, enhanced the adherence of cells to the extracellular matrix, altered cell morphology and caused defects in cytokinesis, as reflected in the formation of giant cells with heteroploid DNA and multinucleation or giant nuclei. Furthermore, knockdown of EBP50 expression in AA cells rescued cell defects such as the cytokinesis failure and abnormal cell morphology. EBP50 S279A/S301A had a weaker binding affinity with actin than EBP50 S279D/S301D, which might explain the increase of F-actin content in the AA cells. The present results suggest that cdc2/cyclin B-mediated EBP50 phosphorylation may play a role in the regulation of various cell functions by affecting actin cytoskeleton reorganization.
doi:10.1007/s10059-013-0014-0
PMCID: PMC3887931  PMID: 23775624
actin; adhesion; cytokinesis; ezrin-radixin-moesin-binding phosphoprotein 50; multinucleation; phosphorylation
22.  Susceptibilities of Candida albicans multidrug transporter mutants to various antifungal agents and other metabolic inhibitors. 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  1996;40(10):2300-2305.
Some Candida albicans isolates from AIDS patients with oropharyngeal candidiasis are becoming resistant to the azole antifungal agent fluconazole after prolonged treatment with this compound. Most of the C. albicans isolates resistant to fluconazole fail to accumulate this antifungal agent, and this has been considered a cause of resistance. This phenomenon was shown to be linked to an increase in the amounts of mRNA of a C. albicans ABC (ATP-binding cassette) transporter gene called CDR1 and of a gene conferring benomyl resistance (BENr), the product of which belongs to the class of major facilitator multidrug efflux transporters (D. Sanglard, K. Kuchler, F. Ischer, J. L. Pagani, M. Monod, and J. Bille, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 39:2378-2386, 1995). To analyze the roles of these multidrug transporters in the efflux of azole antifungal agents, we constructed C. albicans mutants with single and double deletion mutations of the corresponding genes. The mutants were tested for their susceptibilities to these antifungal agents. Our results indicated that the delta cdr1 C. albicans mutant was hypersusceptible to the azole derivatives fluconazole, itraconazole, and ketoconazole, thus showing that the ABC transporter Cdr1 can use these compounds as substrates. The delta cdr1 mutant was also hypersusceptible to other antifungal agents (terbinafine and amorolfine) and to different metabolic inhibitors (cycloheximide, brefeldin A, and fluphenazine). The same mutant was slightly more susceptible than the wild type to nocodazole, cerulenin, and crystal violet but not to amphotericin B, nikkomycin Z, flucytosine, or pradimicin. In contrast, the delta ben mutant was rendered more susceptible only to the mutagen 4-nitroquinoline-N-oxide. However, this mutation increased the susceptibilities of the cells to cycloheximide and cerulenin when the mutation was constructed in a delta cdr1 background. The assay used in the present study could be implemented with new antifungal agents and is a powerful tool for assigning these substances as putative substrates of multidrug transporters.
PMCID: PMC163524  PMID: 8891134
23.  Multiple Resistant Phenotypes of Candida albicans Coexist during Episodes of Oropharyngeal Candidiasis in Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Patients 
Mechanisms of resistance to azoles in Candida albicans, the main etiologic agent of oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC), include alterations in the target enzyme (lanosterol demethylase) and increased efflux of drug. Previous studies on mechanisms of resistance have been limited by the fact that only a single isolate from each OPC episode was available for study. Multiple isolates from each OPC episode were evaluated with oral samples plated in CHROMagar Candida with and without fluconazole to maximize detection of resistant yeasts. A total of 101 isolates from each of three serial episodes of OPC from four different patients were evaluated. Decreasing geometric means of fluconazole MICs with serial episodes of infection were detected in the four patients. However, 8-fold or larger (up to 32-fold) differences in fluconazole MICs were detected within isolates recovered at the same time point in 7 of 12 episodes. Strain identity was analyzed by DNA typing techniques and indicated that isolates from each patient represented mainly isogenic strains, but differed among patients. A Northern blot technique was used to monitor expression of ERG11 (encoding lanosterol demethylase) and genes coding for efflux pumps. This analysis revealed that clinical isolates obtained from the same patient and episode were phenotypically heterogeneous in their patterns of expression of these genes involved in fluconazole resistance. These results demonstrate the complexity of the distribution of the molecular mechanisms of antifungal drug resistance and indicate that different subpopulations of yeasts may coexist at a given time in the same patient and may develop resistance through different mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC89334  PMID: 10390213
24.  Influence of Human Serum on Antifungal Pharmacodynamics with Candida albicans 
Antifungal susceptibilities (NCCLS, approved standard M27-A, 1997) were determined for the reference strain ATCC 90028 and 21 clinical isolates of Candida albicans with varying levels of fluconazole susceptibility using RPMI 1640 (RPMI) and 80% fresh human serum–20% RPMI (serum). Sixty-four percent (14 of 22) of the isolates tested demonstrated significant decreases (≥4-fold) in fluconazole MICs in the presence of serum, and the remaining eight isolates exhibited no change. Itraconazole and ketoconazole, two highly protein-bound antifungal agents, had MICs in serum that were increased or unchanged for 46% (10 of 22) and 41% (9 of 22) of the isolates, respectively. All 10 isolates tested against an investigational antifungal agent, LY303366, demonstrated significant increases in the MIC required in serum, while differences in amphotericin B MICs in the two media were not observed. Four of 10 isolates tested demonstrated fourfold higher flucytosine MICs in serum than in RPMI. Postantifungal effects (PAFEs) and 24-h kill curves were determined by standard methods for selected isolates. At the MIC, fluconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, flucytosine, and LY303366 kill curves and PAFEs in RPMI were similar to those in serum. Isolates of fluconazole-resistant C. albicans required lower MICs in serum than in RPMI, without relative increases in fungal killing or PAFEs. Isolates tested against amphotericin B demonstrated significantly reduced killing and shorter PAFEs in serum than in RPMI without observable changes in MIC. In conclusion, antifungal pharmacodynamics in RPMI did not consistently predict antifungal activity in serum for azoles and amphotericin B. Generally speaking, antifungal agents with high protein binding exhibited some form of reduced activity (MIC, killing, or PAFE) in the presence of serum compared to those with low protein binding.
doi:10.1128/AAC.45.7.2018-2022.2001
PMCID: PMC90594  PMID: 11408217
25.  Differential Azole Antifungal Efficacies Contrasted Using a Saccharomyces cerevisiae Strain Humanized for Sterol 14α-Demethylase at the Homologous Locus▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2008;52(10):3597-3603.
Inhibition of sterol-14α-demethylase, a cytochrome P450 (CYP51, Erg11p), is the mode of action of azole antifungal drugs, and with high frequencies of fungal infections new agents are required. New drugs that target fungal CYP51 should not inhibit human CYP51, although selective inhibitors of the human target are also of interest as anticholesterol agents. A strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that was humanized with respect to the amino acids encoded at the CYP51 (ERG11) yeast locus (BY4741:huCYP51) was produced. The strain was validated with respect to gene expression, protein localization, growth characteristics, and sterol content. The MIC was determined and compared to that for the wild-type parental strain (BY4741), using clotrimazole, econazole, fluconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, miconazole, and voriconazole. The humanized strain showed up to >1,000-fold-reduced susceptibility to the orally active azole drugs, while the topical agents showed no difference. Data from growth kinetic measurements substantiated this finding but also revealed reduced effectiveness against the humanized strain for the topical drugs. Cellular sterol profiles reflected the decreased susceptibility of BY4741:huCYP51 and showed a smaller depletion of ergosterol and accumulation of 14α-methyl-ergosta-8, 24(28)-dien-3β-6α-diol than the parental strain under the same treatment conditions. This strain provides a useful tool for initial specificity testing for new drugs targeting CYP51 and clearly differentiates azole antifungals in a side-by-side comparison.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00517-08
PMCID: PMC2565906  PMID: 18694951

Results 1-25 (971402)