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Species-Specific Differences in C-5 Sterol Desaturase Function Influence the Outcome of Azole Antifungal Exposure

Arturo Luna-Tapia, Josie Parker Orcid Logo, Steven Kelly Orcid Logo, Glen E. Palmer

Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Volume: 65, Issue: 12

Swansea University Authors: Josie Parker Orcid Logo, Steven Kelly Orcid Logo

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DOI (Published version): 10.1128/aac.01044-21

Abstract

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. Accord...

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Published in: Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
ISSN: 0066-4804 1098-6596
Published: American Society for Microbiology 2021
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa58450
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Abstract: 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 propensity 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 sterol C-5 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 minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) and residual growth observed at supra-MIC concentrations. Upon fluconazole-mediated inhibition of S14DM, the strains expressing each homolog also produced varying 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 C5-sterol desaturase may be an important determinant of intrinsic azole sensitivity.
College: Swansea University Medical School
Funders: National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (USA) under Award Number R33AI127607
Issue: 12