Gene Essentiality Analyzed by In Vivo Transposon Mutagenesis and Machine Learning in a Stable Haploid Isolate of Candida albicans.
ABSTRACT: Knowing the full set of essential genes for a given organism provides important information about ways to promote, and to limit, its growth and survival. For many non-model organisms, the lack of a stable haploid state and low transformation efficiencies impede the use of conventional approaches to generate a genome-wide comprehensive set of mutant strains and the identification of the genes essential for growth. Here we report on the isolation and utilization of a highly stable haploid derivative of the human pathogenic fungus Candida albicans, together with a modified heterologous transposon and machine learning (ML) analysis method, to predict the degree to which all of the open reading frames are required for growth under standard laboratory conditions. We identified 1,610?C. albicans essential genes, including 1,195 with high "essentiality confidence" scores, thereby increasing the number of essential genes (currently 66 in the Candida Genome Database) by >20-fold and providing an unbiased approach to determine the degree of confidence in the determination of essentiality. Among the genes essential in C. albicans were 602 genes also essential in the model budding and fission yeasts analyzed by both deletion and transposon mutagenesis. We also identified essential genes conserved among the four major human pathogens C. albicans, Aspergillus fumigatus, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Histoplasma capsulatum and highlight those that lack homologs in humans and that thus could serve as potential targets for the design of antifungal therapies.IMPORTANCE Comprehensive understanding of an organism requires that we understand the contributions of most, if not all, of its genes. Classical genetic approaches to this issue have involved systematic deletion of each gene in the genome, with comprehensive sets of mutants available only for very-well-studied model organisms. We took a different approach, harnessing the power of in vivo transposition coupled with deep sequencing to identify >500,000 different mutations, one per cell, in the prevalent human fungal pathogen Candida albicans and to map their positions across the genome. The transposition approach is efficient and less labor-intensive than classic approaches. Here, we describe the production and analysis (aided by machine learning) of a large collection of mutants and the comprehensive identification of 1,610?C. albicans genes that are essential for growth under standard laboratory conditions. Among these C. albicans essential genes, we identify those that are also essential in two distantly related model yeasts as well as those that are conserved in all four major human fungal pathogens and that are not conserved in the human genome. This list of genes with functions important for the survival of the pathogen provides a good starting point for the development of new antifungal drugs, which are greatly needed because of the emergence of fungal pathogens with elevated resistance and/or tolerance of the currently limited set of available antifungal drugs.
Project description:The discovery of novel classes of antifungal drugs depends to a certain extent on the identification of new, unexplored targets that are essential for growth of fungal pathogens. Likewise, the broad-spectrum capacity of future antifungals requires the target gene(s) to be conserved among key fungal pathogens. Using a genome comparison (or concordance) tool, we identified 240 conserved genes as candidates for potential antifungal targets in 10 fungal genomes. To facilitate the identification of essential genes in Candida albicans, we developed a repressible C. albicans MET3 (CaMET3) promoter system capable of evaluating gene essentiality on a genome-wide scale. The CaMET3 promoter was found to be highly amenable to controlled gene expression, a prerequisite for use in target-based whole-cell screening. When the expression of the known antifungal target C. albicans ERG1 was reduced via down-regulation of the CaMET3 promoter, the CaERG1 conditional mutant strain became hypersensitive, specifically to its inhibitor, terbinafine. Furthermore, parallel screening against a small compound library using the CaERG1 conditional mutant under normal and repressed conditions uncovered several hypersensitive compound hits. This work therefore demonstrates a streamlined process for proceeding from selection and validation of candidate antifungal targets to screening for specific inhibitors.
Project description:Aspergillus fumigatus is the most prevalent airborne filamentous fungal pathogen in humans, causing severe and often fatal invasive infections in immunocompromised patients. Currently available antifungal drugs to treat invasive aspergillosis have limited modes of action, and few are safe and effective. To identify and prioritize antifungal drug targets, we have developed a conditional promoter replacement (CPR) strategy using the nitrogen-regulated A. fumigatus NiiA promoter (pNiiA). The gene essentiality for 35 A. fumigatus genes was directly demonstrated by this pNiiA-CPR strategy from a set of 54 genes representing broad biological functions whose orthologs are confirmed to be essential for growth in Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Extending this approach, we show that the ERG11 gene family (ERG11A and ERG11B) is essential in A. fumigatus despite neither member being essential individually. In addition, we demonstrate the pNiiA-CPR strategy is suitable for in vivo phenotypic analyses, as a number of conditional mutants, including an ERG11 double mutant (erg11BDelta, pNiiA-ERG11A), failed to establish a terminal infection in an immunocompromised mouse model of systemic aspergillosis. Collectively, the pNiiA-CPR strategy enables a rapid and reliable means to directly identify, phenotypically characterize, and facilitate target-based whole cell assays to screen A. fumigatus essential genes for cognate antifungal inhibitors.
Project description:Recent sequencing and assembly of the genome for the fungal pathogen Candida albicans used simple automated procedures for the identification of putative genes. We have reviewed the entire assembly, both by hand and with additional bioinformatic resources, to accurately map and describe 6,354 genes and to identify 246 genes whose original database entries contained sequencing errors (or possibly mutations) that affect their reading frame. Comparison with other fungal genomes permitted the identification of numerous fungus-specific genes that might be targeted for antifungal therapy. We also observed that, compared to other fungi, the protein-coding sequences in the C. albicans genome are especially rich in short sequence repeats. Finally, our improved annotation permitted a detailed analysis of several multigene families, and comparative genomic studies showed that C. albicans has a far greater catabolic range, encoding respiratory Complex 1, several novel oxidoreductases and ketone body degrading enzymes, malonyl-CoA and enoyl-CoA carriers, several novel amino acid degrading enzymes, a variety of secreted catabolic lipases and proteases, and numerous transporters to assimilate the resulting nutrients. The results of these efforts will ensure that the Candida research community has uniform and comprehensive genomic information for medical research as well as for future diagnostic and therapeutic applications.
Project description:Background and Purpose:Candida albicans is the most common Candida species (sp.) isolated from fungal infections. Azole resistance in Candida species has been considerably increased in the last decades. Given the toxicity of the antimicrobial drugs, resistance to antifungal agents, and drug interactions, the identification of new antifungal agents seems essential. In this study, we assessed the antifungal effects of biogenic selenium nanoparticles on C. albicans and determined the expression of ERG11 and CDR1 genes. Materials and Methods:Selenium nanoparticles were synthesized with Bacillus sp. MSH-1. The ultrastructure of selenium nanoparticles was evaluated with a transmission electron microscope. The antifungal susceptibility test was performed according to the modified Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute M27-A3 standard protocol. The expression levels of the CDR1 and ERG11 genes were analyzed using the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Results:The azole-resistant C. albicans and wild type C. albicans strains were inhibited by 100 and 70 µg/mL of selenium nanoparticle concentrations, respectively. The expression of CDR1 and ERG11 genes was significantly down-regulated in these selenium nanoparticle concentrations. Conclusion:As the findings indicated, selenium nanoparticles had an appropriate antifungal activity against fluconazole-resistant and -susceptible C.albicans strains. Accordingly, these nanoparticles reduced the expression of CDR1 and ERG11 genes associated with azole resistance. Further studies are needed to investigate the synergistic effects of selenium nanoparticles using other antifungal drugs.
Project description:Manogepix is a broad-spectrum antifungal agent that inhibits glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor biosynthesis. Using whole-genome sequencing, we characterized two efflux-mediated mechanisms in the fungal pathogens Candida albicans and Candida parapsilosis that resulted in decreased manogepix susceptibility. In C. albicans, a gain-of-function mutation in the transcription factor gene ZCF29 activated expression of ATP-binding cassette transporter genes CDR11 and SNQ2 In C. parapsilosis, a mitochondrial deletion activated expression of the major facilitator superfamily transporter gene MDR1.
Project description:<b>Background: </b><i>Echinops kebericho</i> is an endemic medicinal plant in Ethiopia widely used in the treatment of infectious and noninfectious diseases. Essential oils are known for their antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, insecticidal, and antioxidant properties. This study evaluated the antifungal activity of essential oil from <i>E. kebericho</i> against four common pathogenic fungi and two standard strains.<br><br><b>Methods: </b>The essential oil was obtained by hydrodistillation. The antifungal screening was done by agar well diffusion method. Minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) were determined by broth microdilution. Minimal fungicidal concentrations (MFCs) were determined by subculturing fungal strains with no visible growth onto a Sabouraud dextrose agar (SDA) plate.<br><br><b>Results: </b><i>Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans</i> were highly sensitive while <i>Aspergillus flavus</i> did not show sensitivity up to 1?mg/ml of essential oil; MICs ranged from 0.083?mg/ml to 0.208?mg/ml. Concentration and fungal species showed significant dose-dependent associations (<i>p</i> < 0.0001) with antifungal activity. The MICs of essential oil were comparable to those of the standard drug (fluconazole) against <i>C. glabrata</i> and <i>C. krusei.</i> The lowest MFC of the essential oil was observed against <i>Candida parapsilosis</i> (0.145?mg/ml) while the highest MFC was against <i>Candida krusei</i> (0.667?mg/ml).<br><br><b>Conclusion: </b><i>Echinops kebericho</i> essential oil showed noteworthy antifungal activity against <i>Cryptococcus neoformans, Candida albicans</i>, and <i>Candida glabrata</i> and could be a potential candidate for further antifungal drug development.
Project description:Candida is the most common fungal class, causing both superficial and invasive diseases in humans. Although Candida albicans is the most common cause of fungal infections in humans, C. auris is a new emergent serious pathogen causing complications similar to those of C. albicans. Both C. albicans and C. auris are associated with high mortality rates, mainly because of their multidrug-resistance patterns against most available antifungal drugs. Although several compounds were designed against C. albicans, very few or none were tested on C. auris. Therefore, it is urgent to develop novel effective antifungal drugs that can accommodate not only C. albicans, but also other Candida spp., particularly newly emergent one, including C. auris. Inspired by the significant broad-spectrum antifungal activities of the essential oil cuminaldehyde and the reported wide incorporation of azoles in the antifungal drugs, a series of compounds (UoST1-11) was designed and developed. The new compounds were designed to overcome the toxicity of the aldehyde group of cuminaldehyde and benefit from the antifungal selectivity of azoles. The new developed UoST compounds showed significant anti-Candida activities against both Candida species. The best candidate compound, UoST5, was further formulated into polymeric nanoparticles (NPs). The new formula, UoST5-NPs, showed similar activities to the nanoparticles-free drug, while providing only 25% release after 24 h, maintainng prolonged activity up to 48 h and affording no toxicity. In conclusion, new azole formulations with significantly enhanced activities against C. albicans and C. auris, while maintaining prolonged action and no toxicities at lower concentrations, were developed.
Project description:Cryptococcal meningitis is a fungal infection, caused by Cryptococcus neoformans, which is prevalent in immunocompromised patient populations. Treatment failures of this disease are emerging in the clinic, usually associated with long-term treatment with existing antifungal agents. The fungal cell wall is an attractive target for drug therapy because the syntheses of cell wall glucan and chitin are processes that are absent in mammalian cells. Echinocandins comprise a class of lipopeptide compounds known to inhibit 1,3-beta-glucan synthesis, and at least two compounds belonging to this class are currently in clinical trials as therapy for life-threatening fungal infections. Studies of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans mutants identify the membrane-spanning subunit of glucan synthase, encoded by the FKS genes, as the molecular target of echinocandins. In vitro, the echinocandins show potent antifungal activity against Candida and Aspergillus species but are much less potent against C. neoformans. In order to examine why C. neoformans cells are less susceptible to echinocandin treatment, we have cloned a homolog of S. cerevisiae FKS1 from C. neoformans. We have developed a generalized method to evaluate the essentiality of genes in Cryptococcus and applied it to the FKS1 gene. The method relies on homologous integrative transformation with a plasmid that can integrate in two orientations, only one of which will disrupt the target gene function. The results of this analysis suggest that the C. neoformans FKS1 gene is essential for viability. The C. neoformans FKS1 sequence is closely related to the FKS1 sequences from other fungal species and appears to be single copy in C. neoformans. Furthermore, amino acid residues known to be critical for echinocandin susceptibility in Saccharomyces are conserved in the C. neoformans FKS1 sequence.
Project description:Invasive fungal infections are a leading cause of human mortality. Effective treatment is hindered by the rapid emergence of resistance to the limited number of antifungal drugs, demanding new strategies to treat life-threatening fungal infections. Here, we explore a powerful strategy to enhance antifungal efficacy against leading human fungal pathogens by using the natural product beauvericin. We found that beauvericin potentiates the activity of azole antifungals against azole-resistant Candida isolates via inhibition of multidrug efflux and that beauvericin itself is effluxed via Yor1. As observed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we determined that beauvericin inhibits TOR signaling in Candida albicans To further characterize beauvericin activity in C. albicans, we leveraged genome sequencing of beauvericin-resistant mutants. Resistance was conferred by mutations in transcription factor genes TAC1, a key regulator of multidrug efflux, and ZCF29, which was uncharacterized. Transcriptional profiling and chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled to microarray analyses revealed that Zcf29 binds to and regulates the expression of multidrug transporter genes. Beyond drug resistance, we also discovered that beauvericin blocks the C. albicans morphogenetic transition from yeast to filamentous growth in response to diverse cues. We found that beauvericin represses the expression of many filament-specific genes, including the transcription factor BRG1 Thus, we illuminate novel circuitry regulating multidrug efflux and establish that simultaneously targeting drug resistance and morphogenesis provides a promising strategy to combat life-threatening fungal infections.
Project description:Oral candidiasis is closely associated with changes in oral fungal biodiversity and is caused primarily by Candida albicans. However, the widespread use of empiric and prophylactic antifungal drugs has caused a shift in fungal biodiversity towards other Candida or yeast species. Recently, next-generation sequencing (NGS) has provided an improvement over conventional culture techniques, allowing rapid comprehensive analysis of oral fungal biodiversity. In this study, we used NGS to examine the oral fungal biodiversity of 27 patients with pseudomembranous oral candidiasis (POC) and 66 healthy controls. The total number of fungal species in patients with POC and healthy controls was 67 and 86, respectively. The copy number of total PCR products and the proportion of non-C. albicans, especially C. dubliniensis, in patients with POC, were higher than those in healthy controls. The detection patterns in patients with POC were similar to those in controls after antifungal treatment. Interestingly, the number of fungal species and the copy number of total PCR products in healthy controls increased with aging. These results suggest that high fungal biodiversity and aging might be involved in the pathogenesis of oral candidiasis. We therefore conclude that NGS is a useful technique for investigating oral candida infections.