Transcription factor CCG-8 as a new regulator in the adaptation to antifungal azole stress.
ABSTRACT: Antifungal azoles are widely used for controlling fungal infections. Fungi are able to change the expression of many genes when they adapt to azole stress, and increased expression of some of these genes can elevate resistance to azoles. However, the regulatory mechanisms behind transcriptional adaption to azoles in filamentous fungi are poorly understood. In this study, we found that deletion of the transcription factor gene ccg-8, which is known to be a clock-controlled gene, made Neurospora crassa hypersensitive to azoles. A comparative genome-wide analysis of the responses to ketoconazole of the wild type and the ccg-8 mutant revealed that the transcriptional responses to ketoconazole of 78 of the 488 transcriptionally ketoconazole-upregulated genes and the 427 transcriptionally ketoconazole-downregulated genes in the wild type were regulated by CCG-8. Ketoconazole sensitivity testing of all available knockout mutants for CCG-8-regulated genes revealed that CCG-8 contributed to azole adaption by regulating the ketoconazole responses of many genes, including the target gene (erg11), an azole transporter gene (cdr4), a hexose transporter gene (hxt13), a stress response gene (locus number NCU06317, named kts-1), two transcription factor genes (NCU01386 [named kts-2] and fsd-1/ndt80), four enzyme-encoding genes, and six unknown-function genes. CCG-8 also regulated phospholipid synthesis in N. crassa in a manner similar to that of its homolog in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Opi1p. However, there was no cross talk between phospholipid synthesis and azole resistance in N. crassa. CCG-8 homologs are conserved and are common in filamentous fungi. Deletion of the CCG-8 homolog-encoding gene in Fusarium verticillioides (Fvccg-8) also made this fungus hypersensitive to antifungal azoles.
Project description:Azoles are commonly used as antifungal drugs or pesticides to control fungal infections in medicine and agriculture. Fungi adapt to azole stress by rapidly activating the transcription of a number of genes, and transcriptional increases in some azole-responsive genes can elevate azole resistance. The regulatory mechanisms that control transcriptional responses to azole stress in filamentous fungi are not well understood. This study identified a bZIP transcription factor, ADS-4 (antifungal drug sensitive-4), as a new regulator of adaptive responses and resistance to antifungal azoles. Transcription of ads-4 in Neurospora crassa cells increased when they were subjected to ketoconazole treatment, whereas the deletion of ads-4 resulted in hypersensitivity to ketoconazole and fluconazole. In contrast, the overexpression of ads-4 increased resistance to fluconazole and ketoconazole in N. crassa. Transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis, followed by quantitative reverse transcription (qRT)-PCR confirmation, showed that ADS-4 positively regulated the transcriptional responses of at least six genes to ketoconazole stress in N. crassa. The gene products of four ADS-4-regulated genes are known contributors to azole resistance, including the major efflux pump CDR4 (Pdr5p ortholog), an ABC multidrug transporter (NcAbcB), sterol C-22 desaturase (ERG5), and a lipid transporter (NcRTA2) that is involved in calcineurin-mediated azole resistance. Deletion of the ads-4-homologous gene Afads-4 in Aspergillus fumigatus caused hypersensitivity to itraconazole and ketoconazole, which suggested that ADS-4 is a functionally conserved regulator of adaptive responses to azoles. This study provides important information on a new azole resistance factor that could be targeted by a new range of antifungal pesticides and drugs.
Project description:Heat Shock Protein 90 (Hsp90) is essential for tumor progression in humans and drug resistance in fungi. However, the roles of its many co-chaperones in antifungal resistance are unknown. In this study, by susceptibility test of Neurospora crassa mutants lacking each of 18 Hsp90/Calcineurin system member genes (including 8 Hsp90 co-chaperone genes) to antifungal drugs and other stresses, we demonstrate that the Hsp90 co-chaperones Sti1 (Hop1 in yeast), Aha1, and P23 (Sba1 in yeast) were required for the basal resistance to antifungal azoles and heat stress. Deletion of any of them resulted in hypersensitivity to azoles and heat. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis showed that the toxic sterols eburicol and 14?-methyl-3,6-diol were significantly accumulated in the sti1 and p23 deletion mutants after ketoconazole treatment, which has been shown before to led to cell membrane stress. At the transcriptional level, Aha1, Sti1, and P23 positively regulate responses to ketoconazole stress by erg11 and erg6, key genes in the ergosterol biosynthetic pathway. Aha1, Sti1, and P23 are highly conserved in fungi, and sti1 and p23 deletion also increased the susceptibility to azoles in Fusarium verticillioides. These results indicate that Hsp90-cochaperones Aha1, Sti1, and P23 are critical for the basal azole resistance and could be potential targets for developing new antifungal agents.
Project description:Antifungal azoles are the major drugs that are used to treat fungal infections. This study found that in response to antifungal azole stress, Neurospora crassa could activate the transcriptional responses of many genes and increase azole resistance by reducing the level of conidial separation 1 (CSP-1), a global transcription repressor, at azole-responsive genes. The expression of csp-1 was directly activated by the transcription factors WC-1 and WC-2. Upon ketoconazole (KTC) stress, the transcript levels of wc-1 and wc-2 were not changed, but csp-1 transcription rapidly declined. A chromatin immunoprecipitation-quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed a rapid reduction in the WC-2 enrichment at the csp-1 promoter upon KTC treatment, which might be responsible for the KTC-induced csp-1 downregulation. Deletion of csp-1 increased resistance to KTC and voriconazole, while csp-1 overexpression increased KTC susceptibility. CSP-1 transcriptionally repressed a number of azole-responsive genes, including genes encoding the azole target ERG11, the azole efflux pump CDR4, and the sterol C-22 desaturase ERG5. Deletion of csp-1 also reduced the KTC-induced accumulation of ergosterol intermediates, eburicol, and 14?-methyl-3,6-diol. CSP-1 orthologs are widely present in filamentous fungi, and an Aspergillus fumigatus mutant in which the csp-1 was deleted was resistant to itraconazole.
Project description:Fungi transcriptionally upregulate expression of azole efflux pumps and ergosterol biosynthesis pathway genes when exposed to antifungal agents that target ergosterol biosynthesis. To date, these transcriptional responses have been shown to be dependent on the presence of the azoles and/or depletion of ergosterol. Using an inducible promoter to regulate Neurospora crassa erg11, which encodes the major azole target, sterol 14?-demethylase, we were able to demonstrate that the CDR4 azole efflux pump can be transcriptionally activated by ergosterol biosynthesis inhibition even in the absence of azoles. By analyzing ergosterol deficient mutants, we demonstrate that the transcriptional responses by cdr4 and, unexpectedly, genes encoding ergosterol biosynthesis enzymes (erg genes) that are responsive to azoles, are not dependent on ergosterol depletion. Nonetheless, deletion of erg2, which encodes C-8 sterol isomerase, also induced expression of cdr4. Deletion of erg2 also induced the expression of erg24, the gene encoding C-14 sterol reductase, but not other tested erg genes which were responsive to erg11 inactivation. This indicates that inhibition of specific steps of ergosterol biosynthesis can result in different transcriptional responses, which is further supported by our results obtained using different ergosterol biosynthesis inhibitors. Together with the sterol profiles, these results suggest that the transcriptional responses by cdr4 and erg genes are associated with accumulation of specific sterol intermediate(s). This was further supported by the fact that when the erg2 mutant was treated with ketoconazole, upstream inhibition overrode the effects by downstream inhibition on ergosterol biosynthesis pathway. Even though cdr4 expression is associated with the accumulation of sterol intermediates, intra- and extracellular sterol analysis by HPLC-MS indicated that the transcriptional induction of cdr4 did not result in efflux of the accumulated intermediate(s). This study demonstrates, by detailed genetic and chemical analysis, that transcriptional responses by a major efflux pump and genes of the ergosterol biosynthesis pathway to ergosterol biosynthesis inhibitors can be independent of the presence of the drugs and are linked with the accumulation of ergosterol intermediate(s).
Project description:A 5-year-old neutered female toy Poodle chronically treated with systemic and topical azoles to control recurrent Malassezia dermatitis/otitis was presented because of the loss of treatment efficacy. Minimum Inhibitory Concentrations (MICs) obtained in vitro for various azoles (especially itraconazole and ketoconazole) against Malassezia strains isolated from the dog were increased by several-fold compared with MICs obtained for control isolates. These results reinforced the assumption based on clinical observation, i.e. the development of azole resistance.
Project description:Azole antifungal agents, and especially fluconazole, have been used widely to treat oropharyngeal candidiasis in patients with AIDS. An increasing number of cases of clinical resistance against fluconazole, often correlating with in vitro resistance, have been reported. To investigate the mechanisms of resistance toward azole antifungal agents at the molecular level in clinical C. albicans isolates, we focused on resistance mechanisms related to the cellular target of azoles, i.e., cytochrome P450(14DM) (14DM) and those regulating the transport or accumulation of fluconazole. The analysis of sequential isogenic C. albicans isolates with increasing levels of resistance to fluconazole from five AIDS patients showed that overexpression of the gene encoding 14DM either by gene amplification or by gene deregulation was not the major cause of resistance among these clinical isolates. We found, however, that fluconazole-resistant C. albicans isolates failed to accumulate 3H-labelled fluconazole. This phenomenon was reversed in resistant cells by inhibiting the cellular energy supply with azide, suggesting that resistance could be mediated by energy-requiring efflux pumps such as those described as ATP-binding cassette (ABC) multidrug transporters. In fact, some but not all fluconazole-resistant clinical C. albicans isolates exhibited up to a 10-fold relative increase in mRNA levels for a recently cloned ABC transporter gene called CDR1. In an azole-resistant C. albicans isolate not overexpressing CDR1, the gene for another efflux pump named BENr was massively overexpressed. This gene was cloned from C. albicans for conferring benomyl resistance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Therefore, at least the overexpression or the deregulation of these two genes potentially mediates resistance to azoles in C. albicans clinical isolates from AIDS patients with oropharyngeal candidiasis. Involvement of ABC transporters in azole resistance was further evidenced with S. cerevisiae mutants lacking specific multidrug transporters which were rendered hypersusceptible to azole derivatives including fluconazole, itraconazole, and ketoconazole.
Project description:Azoles are the most commonly used class of antifungal drugs, yet where they localize within fungal cells and how they are imported remain poorly understood. Azole antifungals target lanosterol 14?-demethylase, a cytochrome P450, encoded by ERG11 in Candida albicans, the most prevalent fungal pathogen. We report the synthesis of fluorescent probes that permit visualization of antifungal azoles within live cells. Probe 1 is a dansyl dye-conjugated azole, and probe 2 is a Cy5-conjugated azole. Docking computations indicated that each of the probes can occupy the active site of the target cytochrome P450. Like the azole drug fluconazole, probe 1 is not effective against a mutant that lacks the target cytochrome P450. In contrast, the azole drug ketoconazole and probe 2 retained some antifungal activity against mutants lacking the target cytochrome P450, implying that both act against more than one target. Both fluorescent azole probes colocalized with the mitochondria, as determined by fluorescence microscopy with MitoTracker dye. Thus, these fluorescent probes are useful molecular tools that can lead to detailed information about the activity and localization of the important azole class of antifungal drugs.
Project description:Trypanosoma cruzi is the protozoan parasite that causes Chagas' disease, a frequently fatal illness affecting the heart and gastrointestinal systems. An estimated 16 million to 18 million people in Latin America and 50,000 to 100,000 people in the United States are infected with this pathogen. Treatment options for T. cruzi infections are suboptimal due to the toxicities and limited effectiveness of the available drugs. Azole antimicrobial agents have been discovered to have antitrypanosomal activity by inhibition of ergosterol synthesis. The triazole itraconazole was recently shown to produce a parasitologic cure rate of 53% in chronically infected patients (W. Apt et al., Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 59:133-138, 1998), a result which may lead to more use of this family of drugs for the treatment of T. cruzi infections. In the experiments reported on here, resistance to azoles was induced in vitro by serial passage of mammalian-stage parasites in the presence of fluconazole for 4 months. These parasites were cross resistant to the other azoles, ketoconazole, miconazole, and itraconazole. They remained susceptible to benznidazole and amphotericin B. The azole-resistant phenotype was stable for more than 2 months of in vitro serial passage without fluconazole. In addition, the parasites resisted treatment in mice receiving ketoconazole. The rapid development of azole resistance in T. cruzi in vitro suggests that resistance to azole drugs has the potential to occur in patients and may pose an impediment to the progress being made in the treatment of T. cruzi infection.
Project description:Infections due to Candida albicans are usually treated with azole antifungals such as fluconazole, but treatment failure is not uncommon especially in immunocompromised individuals. Relatedly, in vitro studies demonstrate that azoles are nonfungicidal, with continued growth at strain-dependent rates even at high azole concentrations. We hypothesized that upregulation of ERG11, which encodes the azole target enzyme lanosterol demethylase, contributes to this azole tolerance in Candida species. RNA analysis revealed that ERG11 expression in C. albicans is maximal during logarithmic-phase growth and decreases as the cells approach stationary phase. Incubation with fluconazole, however, resulted in a two- to fivefold increase in ERG11 RNA levels within 2 to 3 h, and this increase was followed by resumption of culture growth. ERG11 upregulation also occurred following treatment with other azoles (itraconazole, ketoconazole, clotrimazole, and miconazole) and was not dependent on the specific medium or pH. Within 1 h of drug removal ERG11 upregulation was reversed. Azole-dependent upregulation was not limited to ERG11: five of five ERG genes tested whose products function upstream and downstream of lanosterol demethylase in the sterol biosynthetic pathway were also upregulated. Similarly, ERG11 upregulation occurred following treatment of C. albicans cultures with terbinafine and fenpropimorph, which target other enzymes in the pathway. These data suggest a common mechanism for global ERG upregulation, e.g., in response to ergosterol depletion. Finally, azole-dependent ERG11 upregulation was demonstrated in three additional Candida species (C. tropicalis, C. glabrata, and C. krusei), indicating a conserved response to sterol biosynthesis inhibitors in opportunistic yeasts.
Project description:Azoles are currently the mainstay of antifungal treatment both in agricultural and in clinical settings. Although the target site of azole action is well studied, the basis of azole resistance and the ultimate mode of action of the drug in fungi are poorly understood. To gain a deeper insight into these aspects of azole action, restriction-mediated plasmid integration (REMI) was used to create azole sensitive and resistant strains of the clinically important fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. Four azole sensitive insertions and four azole-resistant insertions were characterized. Three phenotypes could be re-created in wild-type AF210 by reintegration of rescued plasmid and a further four could be confirmed by complementation of the mutant phenotype with a copy of the wild-type gene predicted to be disrupted by the original insertional event. Six insertions were in genes not previously associated with azole sensitivity or resistance. Two insertions occur in transporter genes that may affect drug efflux, whereas others may affect transcriptional regulation of sterol biosynthesis genes and NADH metabolism in the mitochondrion. Two insertions are in genes of unknown function.