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Species-specific differences in C-5 sterol desaturase function influence the outcome of azole antifungal exposure

Luna-Tapia, Arturo, Parker, Josie E., Kelly, Steven L. and Palmer, Glen E. 2021. Species-specific differences in C-5 sterol desaturase function influence the outcome of azole antifungal exposure. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 65 (12) , e01044. 10.1128/aac.01044-21

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The azole antifungals inhibit sterol 14α-demethylase (S14DM), leading to depletion of cellular ergosterol and the synthesis of an aberrant sterol diol that disrupts membrane function. In Candida albicans, sterol diol production is catalyzed by the C-5 sterol desaturase enzyme encoded by ERG3. Accordingly, mutations that inactivate ERG3 enable the fungus to grow in the presence of the azoles. The purpose of this study was to compare the propensities of C-5 sterol desaturases from different fungal pathogens to produce the toxic diol upon S14DM inhibition and thus contribute to antifungal efficacy. The coding sequences of ERG3 homologs from C. albicans (CaERG3), Candida glabrata (CgERG3), Candida auris (CaurERG3), Cryptococcus neoformans (CnERG3), Aspergillus fumigatus (AfERG3A-C) and Rhizopus delemar (RdERG3A/B) were expressed in a C. albicans erg3Δ/Δ mutant to facilitate comparative analysis. All but one of the Erg3p-like proteins (AfErg3C) at least partially restored C-5 sterol desaturase activity and to corresponding degrees rescued the stress and hyphal growth defects of the C. albicans erg3Δ/Δ mutant, confirming functional equivalence. Each C-5 desaturase enzyme conferred markedly different responses to fluconazole exposure in terms of the MIC and residual growth observed at supra-MICs. Upon fluconazole-mediated inhibition of S14DM, the strains expressing each homolog also produced various levels of 14α-methylergosta-8,24(28)-dien-3β,6α-diol. The RdErg3A and AfErg3A proteins are notable for low levels of sterol diol production and failing to confer appreciable azole sensitivity upon the C. albicans erg3Δ/Δ mutant. These findings suggest that species-specific properties of C-5 sterol desaturase may be an important determinant of intrinsic azole sensitivity.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
ISSN: 1098-6596
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 November 2022
Date of Acceptance: 1 September 2021
Last Modified: 15 May 2023 16:40

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