Author(s): He X, Li S, Kaminskyj SG
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Abstract Systemic fungal infections contribute to at least 10\% of deaths in hospital settings. Most antifungal drugs target ergosterol (polyenes) or its biosynthetic pathway (azoles and allylamines), or beta-glucan synthesis (echinocandins). Antifungal drugs that target proteins are prone to the emergence of resistant strains. Identification of genes whose mutations lead to targeted resistance can provide new information on those pathways. We used Aspergillus nidulans as a model system to exploit its tractable sexual cycle and calcofluor white as a model antifungal agent to cross-reference our results with other studies. Within 2 weeks from inoculation on sublethal doses of calcofluor white, we isolated 24 A. nidulans adaptive strains from sectoring colonies. Meiotic analysis showed that these strains had single-gene mutations. In each case, the resistance was specific to calcofluor white, since there was no cross-resistance to caspofungin (echinocandin). Mutation sites were identified in two mutants by next-generation sequencing. These were confirmed by reengineering the mutation in a wild-type strain using a gene replacement strategy. One of these mutated genes was related to cell wall synthesis, and the other one was related to drug metabolism. Our strategy has wide application for many fungal species, for antifungal compounds used in agriculture as well as health care, and potentially during protracted drug therapy once drug resistance arises. We suggest that our strategy will be useful for keeping ahead in the drug resistance arms race.
This article was published in Eukaryot Cell
and referenced in Clinical Microbiology: Open Access