Disruption of the Transcriptional Regulator Cas5 Results in Enhanced Killing of Candida albicans by Fluconazole.

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Abstract or Description

Azole antifungal agents such as fluconazole exhibit fungistatic activity against Candida albicans. Strategies to enhance azole antifungal activity would be therapeutically appealing. In an effort to identify transcriptional pathways that influence the killing activity of fluconazole, we sought to identify transcription factors (TFs) involved in this process. From a collection of C. albicans strains disrupted for genes encoding TFs (Homann et al., PLoS Genet. 2009;5:e1000783), four exhibited a marked reduction in minimum fungicidal concentration (MFC) in both RPMI and YPD media. One of these, UPC2, has been previously characterized with regard to its role in azole susceptibility. Of mutants representing the three remaining TF genes of interest, one (CAS5) was unable to recover from fluconazole exposure at concentrations as low as 2 μg/mL after 72 hours in YPD medium. This mutant also showed reduced susceptibility and a clear zone of inhibition by Etest, was unable to grow on solid media containing 10 μg/mL fluconazole, and exhibited increased susceptibility by time-kill analysis. CAS5 disruption in highly azole-resistant clinical isolates exhibiting multiple resistance mechanisms did not alter susceptibility. However, CAS5 disruption in strains with specific resistance mutations in ergosterol biosynthesis or efflux pumps resulted in a moderate reduction in MIC and MFC. Genome-wide transcriptional analysis was performed in the presence of fluconazole and was consistent with the suggested role of CAS5 in cell wall organization while also suggesting a role in iron transport and homeostasis. These findings suggest that Cas5 regulates a transcriptional network that influences the response of C. albicans to fluconazole. Further delineation of this transcriptional network may identify targets for potential co-therapeutic strategies to enhance the activity of the azole class of antifungals.





Published In

Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, Online early.