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1.  Microbial cytochromes P450: biodiversity and biotechnology. Where do cytochromes P450 come from, what do they do and what can they do for us? 
The first eukaryote genome revealed three yeast cytochromes P450 (CYPs), hence the subsequent realization that some microbial fungal genomes encode these proteins in 1 per cent or more of all genes (greater than 100) has been surprising. They are unique biocatalysts undertaking a wide array of stereo- and regio-specific reactions and so hold promise in many applications. Based on ancestral activities that included 14α-demethylation during sterol biosynthesis, it is now seen that CYPs are part of the genes and metabolism of most eukaryotes. In contrast, Archaea and Eubacteria often do not contain CYPs, while those that do are frequently interesting as producers of natural products undertaking their oxidative tailoring. Apart from roles in primary and secondary metabolism, microbial CYPs are actual/potential targets of drugs/agrochemicals and CYP51 in sterol biosynthesis is exhibiting evolution to resistance in the clinic and the field. Other CYP applications include the first industrial biotransformation for corticosteroid production in the 1950s, the diversion into penicillin synthesis in early mutations in fungal strain improvement and bioremediation using bacteria and fungi. The vast untapped resource of orphan CYPs in numerous genomes is being probed and new methods for discovering function and for discovering desired activities are being investigated.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0476
PMCID: PMC3538425  PMID: 23297358
microbes; biotechnology; cytochrome P450; bioactive; resistance
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.  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
4.  Two Clinical Isolates of Candida glabrata Exhibiting Reduced Sensitivity to Amphotericin B Both Harbor Mutations in ERG2 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2012;56(12):6417-6421.
Two novel isolates of Candida glabrata exhibiting reduced sensitivity to amphotericin B (MIC, 8 μg ml−1) were found to be ERG2 mutants, wherein Δ8-sterol intermediates comprised >90% of the total cellular sterol fraction. Both harbored an alteration at Thr121 in ERG2; the corresponding residue (Thr119) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is essential for sterol Δ8-Δ7 isomerization. This constitutes the first report of C. glabrata harboring mutations in ERG2 and exhibiting reduced sensitivity to amphotericin B.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01145-12
PMCID: PMC3497184  PMID: 23027188
5.  Facultative Sterol Uptake in an Ergosterol-Deficient Clinical Isolate of Candida glabrata Harboring a Missense Mutation in ERG11 and Exhibiting Cross-Resistance to Azoles and Amphotericin B 
We identified a clinical isolate of Candida glabrata (CG156) exhibiting flocculent growth and cross-resistance to fluconazole (FLC), voriconazole (VRC), and amphotericin B (AMB), with MICs of >256, >256, and 32 μg ml−1, respectively. Sterol analysis using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) revealed that CG156 was a sterol 14α-demethylase (Erg11p) mutant, wherein 14α-methylated intermediates (lanosterol was >80% of the total) were the only detectable sterols. ERG11 sequencing indicated that CG156 harbored a single-amino-acid substitution (G315D) which nullified the function of native Erg11p. In heterologous expression studies using a doxycycline-regulatable Saccharomyces cerevisiae erg11 strain, wild-type C. glabrata Erg11p fully complemented the function of S. cerevisiae sterol 14α-demethylase, restoring growth and ergosterol synthesis in recombinant yeast; mutated CG156 Erg11p did not. CG156 was culturable using sterol-free, glucose-containing yeast minimal medium (glcYM). However, when grown on sterol-supplemented glcYM (with ergosta 7,22-dienol, ergosterol, cholestanol, cholesterol, Δ7-cholestenol, or desmosterol), CG156 cultures exhibited shorter lag phases, reached higher cell densities, and showed alterations in cellular sterol composition. Unlike comparator isolates (harboring wild-type ERG11) that became less sensitive to FLC and VRC when cultured on sterol-supplemented glcYM, facultative sterol uptake by CG156 did not affect its azole-resistant phenotype. Conversely, CG156 grown using glcYM with ergosterol (or with ergosta 7,22-dienol) showed increased sensitivity to AMB; CG156 grown using glcYM with cholesterol (or with cholestanol) became more resistant (MICs of 2 and >64 μg AMB ml−1, respectively). Our results provide insights into the consequences of sterol uptake and metabolism on growth and antifungal resistance in C. glabrata.
doi:10.1128/AAC.06253-11
PMCID: PMC3421581  PMID: 22615281
6.  S279 Point Mutations in Candida albicans Sterol 14-α Demethylase (CYP51) Reduce In Vitro Inhibition by Fluconazole 
The effects of S279F and S279Y point mutations in Candida albicans CYP51 (CaCYP51) on protein activity and on substrate (lanosterol) and azole antifungal binding were investigated. Both S279F and S279Y mutants bound lanosterol with 2-fold increased affinities (Ks, 7.1 and 8.0 μM, respectively) compared to the wild-type CaCYP51 protein (Ks, 13.5 μM). The S279F and S279Y mutants and the wild-type CaCYP51 protein bound fluconazole, voriconazole, and itraconazole tightly, producing typical type II binding spectra. However, the S279F and S279Y mutants had 4- to 5-fold lower affinities for fluconazole, 3.5-fold lower affinities for voriconazole, and 3.5- to 4-fold lower affinities for itraconazole than the wild-type CaCYP51 protein. The S279F and S279Y mutants gave 2.3- and 2.8-fold higher 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) for fluconazole in a CYP51 reconstitution assay than the wild-type protein did. The increased fluconazole resistance conferred by the S279F and S279Y point mutations appeared to be mediated through a combination of a higher affinity for substrate and a lower affinity for fluconazole. In addition, lanosterol displaced fluconazole from the S279F and S279Y mutants but not from the wild-type protein. Molecular modeling of the wild-type protein indicated that the oxygen atom of S507 interacts with the second triazole ring of fluconazole, assisting in orientating fluconazole so that a more favorable binding conformation to heme is achieved. In contrast, in the two S279 mutant proteins, this S507-fluconazole interaction is absent, providing an explanation for the higher Kd values observed.
doi:10.1128/AAC.05389-11
PMCID: PMC3318376  PMID: 22252802
7.  Impact of Recently Emerged Sterol 14α-Demethylase (CYP51) Variants of Mycosphaerella graminicola on Azole Fungicide Sensitivity▿ 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(11):3830-3837.
The progressive decline in the effectiveness of some azole fungicides in controlling Mycosphaerella graminicola, causal agent of the damaging Septoria leaf blotch disease of wheat, has been correlated with the selection and spread in the pathogen population of specific mutations in the M. graminicola CYP51 (MgCYP51) gene encoding the azole target sterol 14α-demethylase. Recent studies have suggested that the emergence of novel MgCYP51 variants, often harboring substitution S524T, has contributed to a decrease in the efficacy of prothioconazole and epoxiconazole, the two currently most effective azole fungicides against M. graminicola. In this study, we establish which amino acid alterations in novel MgCYP51 variants have the greatest impact on azole sensitivity and protein function. We introduced individual and combinations of identified alterations by site-directed mutagenesis and functionally determined their impact on azole sensitivity by expression in a Saccharomyces cerevisiae mutant YUG37::erg11 carrying a regulatable promoter controlling native CYP51 expression. We demonstrate that substitution S524T confers decreased sensitivity to all azoles when introduced alone or in combination with Y461S. In addition, S524T restores the function in S. cerevisiae of MgCYP51 variants carrying the otherwise lethal alterations Y137F and V136A. Sensitivity tests of S. cerevisiae transformants expressing recently emerged MgCYP51 variants carrying combinations of alterations D134G, V136A, Y461S, and S524T reveal a substantial impact on sensitivity to the currently most widely used azoles, including epoxiconazole and prothioconazole. Finally, we exploit a recently developed model of the MgCYP51 protein to predict that the substantial structural changes caused by these novel combinations reduce azole interactions with critical residues in the binding cavity, thereby causing resistance.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00027-11
PMCID: PMC3127603  PMID: 21478305
8.  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
9.  Complementation of a Saccharomyces cerevisiae ERG11/CYP51 (Sterol 14α-Demethylase) Doxycycline-Regulated Mutant and Screening of the Azole Sensitivity of Aspergillus fumigatus Isoenzymes CYP51A and CYP51B▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2010;54(11):4920-4923.
Aspergillus fumigatus sterol 14α-demethylase isoenzymes CYP51A and CYP51B were heterologously expressed in a Saccharomyces cerevisiae mutant (YUG37-erg11), wherein native ERG11/CYP51 expression is controlled using a doxycycline-regulatable promoter. When cultured in the presence of doxycycline, recombinant YUG37-pcyp51A and YUG37-pcyp51B yeasts were able to synthesize ergosterol and grow; a control strain harboring reverse-oriented cyp51A could not. YUG37-pcyp51A and YUG37-pcyp51B constructs showed identical sensitivity to itraconazole, posaconazole, clotrimazole, and voriconazole. Conversely, YUG37-pcyp51A withstood 16-fold-higher concentrations of fluconazole than YUG37-pcyp51B (8 and 0.5 μg ml−1, respectively).
doi:10.1128/AAC.00349-10
PMCID: PMC2976139  PMID: 20733045
10.  Identification and Characterization of Four Azole-Resistant erg3 Mutants of Candida albicans▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2010;54(11):4527-4533.
Sterol analysis identified four Candida albicans erg3 mutants in which ergosta 7,22-dienol, indicative of perturbations in sterol Δ5,6-desaturase (Erg3p) activity, comprised >5% of the total sterol fraction. The erg3 mutants (CA12, CA488, CA490, and CA1008) were all resistant to fluconazole, voriconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, and clotrimazole under standard CLSI assay conditions (MIC values, ≥256, 16, 16, 8, and 1 μg ml−1, respectively). Importantly, CA12 and CA1008 retained an azole-resistant phenotype even when assayed in the presence of FK506, a multidrug efflux inhibitor. Conversely, CA488, CA490, and three comparator isolates (CA6, CA14, and CA177, in which ergosterol comprised >80% of the total sterol fraction and ergosta 7,22-dienol was undetectable) all displayed azole-sensitive phenotypes under efflux-inhibited assay conditions. Owing to their ergosterol content, CA6, CA14, and CA177 were highly sensitive to amphotericin B (MIC values, <0.25 μg ml−1); CA1008, in which ergosterol comprised <2% of the total sterol fraction, was less sensitive (MIC, 1 μg ml−1). CA1008 harbored multiple amino acid substitutions in Erg3p but only a single conserved polymorphism (E266D) in sterol 14α-demethylase (Erg11p). CA12 harbored one substitution (W332R) in Erg3p and no residue changes in Erg11p. CA488 and CA490 were found to harbor multiple residue changes in both Erg3p and Erg11p. The results suggest that missense mutations in ERG3 might arise in C. albicans more frequently than currently supposed and that the clinical significance of erg3 mutants, including those in which additional mechanisms also contribute to resistance, should not be discounted.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00348-10
PMCID: PMC2976150  PMID: 20733039
11.  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
12.  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
13.  A Clinical Isolate of Candida albicans with Mutations in ERG11 (Encoding Sterol 14α-Demethylase) and ERG5 (Encoding C22 Desaturase) Is Cross Resistant to Azoles and Amphotericin B▿  
A clinical isolate of Candida albicans was identified as an erg5 (encoding sterol C22 desaturase) mutant in which ergosterol was not detectable and ergosta 5,7-dienol comprised >80% of the total sterol fraction. The mutant isolate (CA108) was resistant to fluconazole, voriconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, and clotrimazole (MIC values, 64, 8, 2, 1, and 2 μg ml−1, respectively); azole resistance could not be fully explained by the activity of multidrug resistance pumps. When susceptibility tests were performed in the presence of a multidrug efflux inhibitor (tacrolimus; FK506), CA108 remained resistant to azole concentrations higher than suggested clinical breakpoints for C. albicans (efflux-inhibited MIC values, 16 and 4 μg ml−1 for fluconazole and voriconazole, respectively). Gene sequencing revealed that CA108 was an erg11 erg5 double mutant harboring a single amino acid substitution (A114S) in sterol 14α-demethylase (Erg11p) and sequence repetition (10 duplicated amino acids), which nullified C22 desaturase (Erg5p) function. Owing to a lack of ergosterol, CA108 was also resistant to amphotericin B (MIC, 2 μg ml−1). This constitutes the first report of a C. albicans erg5 mutant isolated from the clinic.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00303-10
PMCID: PMC2934972  PMID: 20547793
14.  Identification, Characterization, and Azole-Binding Properties of Mycobacterium smegmatis CYP164A2, a Homolog of ML2088, the Sole Cytochrome P450 Gene of Mycobacterium leprae▿  
The genome sequence of Mycobacterium leprae revealed a single open reading frame, ML2088 (CYP164A1), encoding a putative full-length cytochrome P450 monooxygenase and 12 pseudogenes. We have identified a homolog of ML2088 in Mycobacterium smegmatis and report here the cloning, expression, purification, and azole-binding characteristics of this cytochrome P450 (CYP164A2). CYP164A2 is 1,245 bp long and encodes a protein of 414 amino acids and molecular mass of 45 kDa. CYP164A2 has 60% identity with Mycobacterium leprae CYP161A1 and 66 to 69% identity with eight other mycobacterial CYP164A1 homologs, with three identified highly conserved motifs. Recombinant CYP164A2 has the typical spectral characteristics of a cytochrome P450 monooxygenase, predominantly in the ferric low-spin state. Unusually, the spin state was readily modulated by increasing ionic strength at pH 7.5, with 50% high-spin occupancy achieved with 0.14 M NaCl. CYP164A2 bound clotrimazole, econazole, and miconazole strongly (Kd, 1.2 to 2.5 μM); however, strong binding with itraconazole, ketoconazole, and voriconazole was only observed in the presence of 0.5 M NaCl. Fluconazole did not bind to CYP164A2 at pH 7.5 and no discernible type II binding spectrum was observed.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01237-08
PMCID: PMC2650583  PMID: 19075057
15.  Genome-Wide Generation of Yeast Gene Deletion Strains 
In the year 2001 a collection of yeast strains will be completed that are deleted in the 6000 open reading frames selected as putative genes by the initial bioinformatic analysis of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome. The collection was produced by the transatlantic yeast gene deletion project, a collaboration involving researchers in the USA, Canada and Europe. The European effort was part of EUROFAN (European Functional Analysis Network) where some of the strains could feed into various functional analysis nodes dealing with specific areas of cell biology. With approximately 40% of human genes involved in heritable disease having a homologue in yeast and with the use of yeast in various drug discovery strategies, not least due to the dramatic increase in fungal infections, these strains will be valuable in trans-genomic studies and in specialised interest studies in individual laboratories. A detailed analysis of the project by the consortium is in preparation, here we discuss the yeast strains, reported findings and approaches to using this resource.
doi:10.1002/cfg.95
PMCID: PMC2447215  PMID: 18628917
16.  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
17.  Purification, Reconstitution, and Inhibition of Cytochrome P-450 Sterol Δ22-Desaturase from the Pathogenic Fungus Candida glabrata 
Sterol Δ22-desaturase has been purified from a strain of Candida glabrata with a disruption in the gene encoding sterol 14α-demethylase (cytochrome P-45051; CYP51). The purified cytochrome P-450 exhibited sterol Δ22-desaturase activity in a reconstituted system with NADPH–cytochrome P-450 reductase in dilaurylphosphatidylcholine, with the enzyme kinetic studies revealing a Km for ergosta-5,7-dienol of 12.5 μM and a Vmax of 0.59 nmol of this substrate metabolized/min/nmol of P-450. This enzyme is encoded by CYP61 (ERG5) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and homologues have been shown in the Candida albicans and Schizosaccharomyces pombe genome projects. Ketoconazole, itraconazole, and fluconazole formed low-spin complexes with the ferric cytochrome and exhibited type II spectra, which are indicative of an interaction between the azole moiety and the cytochrome heme. The azole antifungal compounds inhibited reconstituted sterol Δ22-desaturase activity by binding to the cytochrome with a one-to-one stoichiometry, with total inhibition of enzyme activity occurring when equimolar amounts of azole and cytochrome P-450 were added. These results reveal the potential for sterol Δ22-desaturase to be an antifungal target and to contribute to the binding of drugs within the fungal cell.
PMCID: PMC89351  PMID: 10390230
18.  Multiple Molecular Mechanisms Contribute to a Stepwise Development of Fluconazole Resistance in Clinical Candida albicans Strains 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  1998;42(12):3065-3072.
From each of two AIDS patients with oropharyngeal candidiasis, five Candida albicans isolates from recurrent episodes of infection which became gradually resistant against fluconazole during antimycotic treatment were analyzed for molecular changes responsible for drug resistance. In both patients, a single C. albicans strain was responsible for the recurrent infections, but the CARE-2 fingerprint pattern of the isolates exhibited minor genetic alterations, indicating that microevolution of the strains took place during fluconazole therapy. In the isolates from patient 1, enhanced mRNA levels of the MDR1 gene, encoding a multiple drug resistance protein from the superfamily of major facilitators, and constitutive high expression of the ERG11 gene, coding for the drug target enzyme sterol 14α-demethylase, correlated with a stepwise development of fluconazole resistance. The resistant strains exhibited reduced accumulation of fluconazole and, for the last in the series, a slight increase in drug needed to inhibit sterol 14α-demethylation in vitro. In the isolates from patient 2, increased MDR1 mRNA levels and the change from heterozygosity to homozygosity for a mutant form of the ERG11 gene correlated with continuously decreased drug susceptibility. In this series, reduced drug accumulation and increased resistance in the target enzyme activity, sterol 14α-demethylase, were observed. These results demonstrate that different molecular mechanisms contribute to a gradual development of fluconazole resistance in C. albicans.
PMCID: PMC106000  PMID: 9835492
19.  NADPH Cytochrome P-450 Oxidoreductase and Susceptibility to Ketoconazole 
The phenotype of a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae containing a disruption of the gene encoding NADPH cytochrome P-450 oxidoreductase (CPR) was quantified biochemically and microbiologically, as were those of various transformants of this strain after expression of native CPR, cytochrome P-45051 (CYP51), and a fusion protein of CYP51-CPR (FUS). Only a 4-fold decrease in ergosterol biosynthesis was observed for the cpr strain, but ketoconazole sensitivity increased 200-fold, indicating hypersensitivity to the alternative electron donor system in cpr strains. Both phenotypes could be reversed in transformants expressing the CPR and FUS, indicating the availability of the CPR in FUS as well as the expressed native CPR for monoxygenase-associated reactions. The complementation of function was observed both in vitro and in vivo for the monoxygenases squalene epoxidase, CYP51, and CYP61 in the ergosterol biosynthesis pathway with which CPR is coupled. Overexpression of CYP51 and FUS produced different levels of ketoconazole resistance in wild-type cells, indicating that the availability of CPR may limit the potential of overproduction of CYP51 as a mechanism of resistance to azole antifungal agents.
PMCID: PMC105679  PMID: 9661017
20.  Discovery of a Novel Dual Fungal CYP51/Human 5-Lipoxygenase Inhibitor: Implications for Anti-Fungal Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65928.
We report the discovery of a novel dual inhibitor targeting fungal sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51 or Erg11) and human 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) with improved potency against 5-LOX due to its reduction of the iron center by its phenylenediamine core. A series of potent 5-LOX inhibitors containing a phenylenediamine core, were synthesized that exhibit nanomolar potency and >30-fold selectivity against the LOX paralogs, platelet-type 12-human lipoxygenase, reticulocyte 15-human lipoxygenase type-1, and epithelial 15-human lipoxygenase type-2, and >100-fold selectivity against ovine cyclooxygenase-1 and human cyclooxygnease-2. The phenylenediamine core was then translated into the structure of ketoconazole, a highly effective anti-fungal medication for seborrheic dermatitis, to generate a novel compound, ketaminazole. Ketaminazole was found to be a potent dual inhibitor against human 5-LOX (IC50 = 700 nM) and CYP51 (IC50 = 43 nM) in vitro. It was tested in whole blood and found to down-regulate LTB4 synthesis, displaying 45% inhibition at 10 µM. In addition, ketaminazole selectively inhibited yeast CYP51 relative to human CYP51 by 17-fold, which is greater selectivity than that of ketoconazole and could confer a therapeutic advantage. This novel dual anti-fungal/anti-inflammatory inhibitor could potentially have therapeutic uses against fungal infections that have an anti-inflammatory component.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065928
PMCID: PMC3691235  PMID: 23826084
21.  Molecular Modelling of the Emergence of Azole Resistance in Mycosphaerella graminicola 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20973.
A structural rationale for recent emergence of azole (imidazole and triazole) resistance associated with CYP51 mutations in the wheat pathogen Mycosphaerella graminicola is presented, attained by homology modelling of the wild type protein and 13 variant proteins. The novel molecular models of M. graminicola CYP51 are based on multiple homologues, individually identified for each variant, rather than using a single structural scaffold, providing a robust structure-function rationale for the binding of azoles, including important fungal specific regions for which no structural information is available. The wild type binding pocket reveals specific residues in close proximity to the bound azole molecules that are subject to alteration in the variants. This implicates azole ligands as important agents exerting selection on specific regions bordering the pocket, that become the focus of genetic mutation events, leading to reduced sensitivity to that group of related compounds. Collectively, the models account for several observed functional effects of specific alterations, including loss of triadimenol sensitivity in the Y137F variant, lower sensitivity to tebuconazole of I381V variants and increased resistance to prochloraz of V136A variants. Deletion of Y459 and G460, which brings about removal of that entire section of beta turn from the vicinity of the binding pocket, confers resistance to tebuconazole and epoxiconazole, but sensitivity to prochloraz in variants carrying a combination of A379G I381V ΔY459/G460. Measurements of binding pocket volume proved useful in assessment of scope for general resistance to azoles by virtue of their accommodation without bonding interaction, particularly when combined with analysis of change in positions of key amino acids. It is possible to predict the likely binding orientation of an azole molecule in any of the variant CYPs, providing potential for an in silico screening system and reliable predictive approach to assess the probability of particular variants exhibiting resistance to particular azole fungicides.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020973
PMCID: PMC3124474  PMID: 21738598
22.  The 2008 update of the Aspergillus nidulans genome annotation: a community effort 
Wortman, Jennifer Russo | Gilsenan, Jane Mabey | Joardar, Vinita | Deegan, Jennifer | Clutterbuck, John | Andersen, Mikael R. | Archer, David | Bencina, Mojca | Braus, Gerhard | Coutinho, Pedro | von Döhren, Hans | Doonan, John | Driessen, Arnold J.M. | Durek, Pawel | Espeso, Eduardo | Fekete, Erzsébet | Flipphi, Michel | Estrada, Carlos Garcia | Geysens, Steven | Goldman, Gustavo | de Groot, Piet W.J. | Hansen, Kim | Harris, Steven D. | Heinekamp, Thorsten | Helmstaedt, Kerstin | Henrissat, Bernard | Hofmann, Gerald | Homan, Tim | Horio, Tetsuya | Horiuchi, Hiroyuki | James, Steve | Jones, Meriel | Karaffa, Levente | Karányi, Zsolt | Kato, Masashi | Keller, Nancy | Kelly, Diane E. | Kiel, Jan A.K.W. | Kim, Jung-Mi | van der Klei, Ida J. | Klis, Frans M. | Kovalchuk, Andriy | Kraševec, Nada | Kubicek, Christian P. | Liu, Bo | MacCabe, Andrew | Meyer, Vera | Mirabito, Pete | Miskei, Márton | Mos, Magdalena | Mullins, Jonathan | Nelson, David R. | Nielsen, Jens | Oakley, Berl R. | Osmani, Stephen A. | Pakula, Tiina | Paszewski, Andrzej | Paulsen, Ian | Pilsyk, Sebastian | Pócsi, István | Punt, Peter J. | Ram, Arthur F.J. | Ren, Qinghu | Robellet, Xavier | Robson, Geoff | Seiboth, Bernhard | Solingen, Piet van | Specht, Thomas | Sun, Jibin | Taheri-Talesh, Naimeh | Takeshita, Norio | Ussery, Dave | vanKuyk, Patricia A. | Visser, Hans | van de Vondervoort, Peter J.I. | de Vries, Ronald P. | Walton, Jonathan | Xiang, Xin | Xiong, Yi | Zeng, An Ping | Brandt, Bernd W. | Cornell, Michael J. | van den Hondel, Cees A.M.J.J. | Visser, Jacob | Oliver, Stephen G. | Turner, Geoffrey
Fungal genetics and biology : FG & B  2008;46(Suppl 1):S2-13.
The identification and annotation of protein-coding genes is one of the primary goals of whole-genome sequencing projects, and the accuracy of predicting the primary protein products of gene expression is vital to the interpretation of the available data and the design of downstream functional applications. Nevertheless, the comprehensive annotation of eukaryotic genomes remains a considerable challenge. Many genomes submitted to public databases, including those of major model organisms, contain significant numbers of wrong and incomplete gene predictions. We present a community-based reannotation of the Aspergillus nidulans genome with the primary goal of increasing the number and quality of protein functional assignments through the careful review of experts in the field of fungal biology.
doi:10.1016/j.fgb.2008.12.003
PMCID: PMC2826280  PMID: 19146970
Aspergillus nidulans; aspergilli; genome; annotation; fungal community; assembly; transcription factors; CADRE

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