Extensive ERG11 mutations associated with fluconazole-resistant Candida albicans isolated from HIV-infected patients.
ABSTRACT: Background and Purpose:Azoles are preferred antifungal agents given their inexpensiveness, limited toxicity, and potentiality of oral administration. However, the extensive use of prophylactic azole therapy for chronic infections, especially in immunocompromised patients, has led to an increase in azole resistance, thereby rising health care costs. Fluconazole resistance is associated with poor clinical outcomes and the emergence of new infections. The present study aimed to investigate the mutations of ERG11 gene in fluconazole-resistant Candida albicans isolates. Materials and Methods:This study was conducted on 80 clinical samples collected from HIV-infected patients with suspected candidiasis in Tagore Medical College Hospital and Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine, Chennai, India, for a period of 18 months (May 2016-December 2017). The antifungal susceptibility pattern was determined by agar diffusion and broth dilution techniques as per the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute guidelines. The ERG11 gene of the known fluconazole-resistant strains of C. albicans was amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In addition, the samples were subjected to sequencing and mutation analysis. Results:A total of 60 Candida species were isolated from HIV patients and were speciated using standard, conventional, and molecular methods. Candida albicans comprised 28.3% (n=17) of the Candida isolates, 59% (n=10) of which were resistant to fluconazole. Sequencing of the amplified product of ERG11 C. albicans gene isolates showed that they were highly mutated and included many nonsense mutations which were not reported earlier. Conclusion:The molecular characterization of ERG11 gene showed many missense and nonsense mutations. Such mutations, which were unique to the geographical area under investigation, could be concluded to account for the development of resistance to fluconazole.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Amino acid substitutions in the target enzyme Erg11p of azole antifungals contribute to clinically-relevant azole resistance in Candida albicans. A simple molecular method for rapid detection of ERG11 gene mutations would be an advantage as a screening tool to identify potentially-resistant strains and to track their movement. To complement DNA sequencing, we developed a padlock probe and rolling circle amplification (RCA)-based method to detect a series of mutations in the C. albicans ERG11 gene using "reference" azole-resistant isolates with known mutations. The method was then used to estimate the frequency of ERG11 mutations and their type in 25 Australian clinical C. albicans isolates with reduced susceptibility to fluconazole and in 23 fluconazole-susceptible isolates. RCA results were compared DNA sequencing. RESULTS: The RCA assay correctly identified all ERG11 mutations in eight "reference" C. albicans isolates. When applied to 48 test strains, the RCA method showed 100% agreement with DNA sequencing where an ERG11 mutation-specific probe was used. Of 20 different missense mutations detected by sequencing in 24 of 25 (96%) isolates with reduced fluconazole susceptibility, 16 were detected by RCA. Five missense mutations were detected by both methods in 18 of 23 (78%) fluconazole-susceptible strains. DNA sequencing revealed that mutations in non-susceptible isolates were all due to homozygous nucleotide changes. With the exception of the mutations leading to amino acid substitution E266D, those in fluconazole-susceptible strains were heterozygous. Amino acid substitutions common to both sets of isolates were D116E, E266D, K128T, V437I and V488I. Substitutions unique to isolates with reduced fluconazole susceptibility were G464 S (n = 4 isolates), G448E (n = 3), G307S (n = 3), K143R (n = 3) and Y123H, S405F and R467K (each n = 1). DNA sequencing revealed a novel substitution, G450V, in one isolate. CONCLUSION: The sensitive RCA assay described here is a simple, robust and rapid (2 h) method for the detection of ERG11 polymorphisms. It showed excellent concordance with ERG11 sequencing and is a potentially valuable tool to track the emergence and spread of azole-resistant C. albicans and to study the epidemiology of ERG11 mutations. The RCA method is applicable to the study of azole resistance in other fungi.
Project description:In the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans, the zinc cluster transcription factor Upc2p has been shown to regulate the expression of ERG11 and other genes involved in ergosterol biosynthesis upon exposure to azole antifungals. ERG11 encodes lanosterol demethylase, the target enzyme of this antifungal class. Overexpression of UPC2 reduces azole susceptibility, whereas its disruption results in hypersusceptibility to azoles and reduced accumulation of exogenous sterols. Overexpression of ERG11 leads to the increased production of lanosterol demethylase, which contributes to azole resistance in clinical isolates of C. albicans, but the mechanism for this has yet to be determined. Using genome-wide gene expression profiling, we found UPC2 and other genes involved in ergosterol biosynthesis to be coordinately upregulated with ERG11 in a fluconazole-resistant clinical isolate compared with a matched susceptible isolate from the same patient. Sequence analysis of the UPC2 alleles of these isolates revealed that the resistant isolate contained a single-nucleotide substitution in one UPC2 allele that resulted in a G648D exchange in the encoded protein. Introduction of the mutated allele into a drug-susceptible strain resulted in constitutive upregulation of ERG11 and increased resistance to fluconazole. By comparing the gene expression profiles of the fluconazole-resistant isolate and of strains carrying wild-type and mutated UPC2 alleles, we identified target genes that are controlled by Upc2p. Here we show for the first time that a gain-of-function mutation in UPC2 leads to the increased expression of ERG11 and imparts resistance to fluconazole in clinical isolates of C. albicans.
Project description:Background and Purpose:Candidiasis is referred to a group of superficial and deep-tissue fungal infections often caused by Candida albicans. The superficial infections affect the oral, oropharynx, esophagus, and vaginal mucosa. The treatment of choice for these infections is the use of azoles, such as fluconazole. However, the increased use of these antifungal agents has led to the emergence of azole-resistant isolates of C. albicans. Different mechanisms have been suggested for the development of drug resistance, such as mutations in the encoding gene ERG11. Mutations in ERG11 result in changes in the ERG11p spatial construction and reduce the affinity between the protein and azole. This study aimed to determine the susceptibility profile of C. albicans clinical isolates to fluconazole using microdilution method. The present research was also targeted toward the detection of mutations that might be related to fluconazole resistance by the amplification and sequencing of ERG11 gene. Materials and Methods:This study was conducted on a total of 216 clinical isolates obtained from Mashhad, Isfahan, and Tehran cities in Iran, during 2016-2018. The clinical isolates were identified using molecular techniques. Furthermore, minimum inhibitory concentration (MICs) was determined according to the clinical and laboratory standards institute M27-A3 and M27-S4 documents. The concentration range for fluconazole was obtained as 0.063-64 ?g/ml. In the resistant strains, ERG11 genes were amplified by specific primers. Subsequently, cycle sequencing reactions were performed on purified polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products in forward and reverse directions. Finally, the results were analyzed by MEGA (version 7) and Gene Runner software (version 6.5.30). Results:Out of 216 strains, 100 (46.3%) species were identified as C. albicans. The MIC values for fluconazole had a range of 0.125-16 ?g/ml with the MIC50 and MIC90 values of 0.5 and 1 ?g/ml, respectively. Totally, 41 nucleotide changes were detected among 4 resistant isolates. In this regard, 4 out of 41 mutations in codons caused changes in ERG11p; however, these mutations did not lead to fluconazole resistance. Conclusion:Fluconazole resistance among clinical isolates is not merely due to the changes in ERG11p. This resistance may be also related to some other mechanisms, such as the prevention of the intracellular accumulation of the antifungal agent and alteration of the target enzyme to diminish drug binding.
Project description:The generation of a new antifungal against Candida albicans biofilms has become a major priority, since biofilm formation by this opportunistic pathogenic fungus is usually associated with an increased resistance to azole antifungal drugs and treatment failures. Miltefosine is an alkyl phospholipid with promising antifungal activity. Here, we report that, when tested under planktonic conditions, miltefosine displays potent in vitro activity against multiple fluconazole-susceptible and -resistant C. albicans clinical isolates, including isolates overexpressing efflux pumps and/or with well-characterized Erg11 mutations. Moreover, miltefosine inhibits C. albicans biofilm formation and displays activity against preformed biofilms. Serial passage experiments confirmed that miltefosine has a reduced potential to elicit resistance, and screening of a library of C. albicans transcription factor mutants provided additional insight into the activity of miltefosine against C. albicans growing under planktonic and biofilm conditions. Finally, we demonstrate the in vivo efficacy of topical treatment with miltefosine in the murine model of oropharyngeal candidiasis. Overall, our results confirm the potential of miltefosine as a promising antifungal drug candidate, in particular for the treatment of azole-resistant and biofilm-associated superficial candidiasis.
Project description:Isavuconazole is a novel, broad-spectrum, antifungal azole. In order to evaluate its interactions with known azole resistance mechanisms, isavuconazole susceptibility among different yeast models and clinical isolates expressing characterized azole resistance mechanisms was tested and compared to those of fluconazole, itraconazole, posaconazole, and voriconazole. Saccharomyces cerevisiae expressing the Candida albicans and C. glabrata ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporters (CDR1, CDR2, and CgCDR1), major facilitator (MDR1), and lanosterol 14-?-sterol-demethylase (ERG11) alleles with mutations were used. In addition, pairs of C. albicans and C. glabrata strains from matched clinical isolates with known azole resistance mechanisms were investigated. The expression of ABC transporters increased all azole MICs, suggesting that all azoles tested were substrates of ABC transporters. The expression of MDR1 did not increase posaconazole, itraconazole, and isavuconazole MICs. Relative increases of azole MICs (from 4- to 32-fold) were observed for fluconazole, voriconazole, and isavuconazole when at least two mutations were present in the same ERG11 allele. Upon MIC testing of azoles with clinical C. albicans and C. glabrata isolates with known resistance mechanisms, the MIC90s of C. albicans for fluconazole, voriconazole, itraconazole, posaconazole, and isavuconazole were 128, 2, 1, 0.5, and 2 ?g/ml, respectively, while in C. glabrata they were 128, 2, 4, 4, and 16 ?g/ml, respectively. In conclusion, the effects of azole resistance mechanisms on isavuconazole did not differ significantly from those of other azoles. Resistance mechanisms in yeasts involving ABC transporters and ERG11 decreased the activity of isavuconazole, while MDR1 had limited effect.
Project description:INTRODUCTION/OBJECTIVES:An increase in antifungal resistant Candida strains has been reported in recent years. The aim of this study was to detect mutations in resistance genes of azole-resistant, echinocandin-resistant or multi-resistant strains using next generation sequencing technology, which allows the analysis of multiple resistance mechanisms in a high throughput setting. METHODS:Forty clinical Candida isolates (16 C. albicans and 24 C. glabrata strains) with MICs for azoles and echinocandins above the clinical EUCAST breakpoint were examined. The genes ERG11, ERG3, TAC1 and GSC1 (FKS1) in C. albicans, as well as ERG11, CgPDR1, FKS1 and FKS2 in C. glabrata were sequenced. RESULTS:Fifty-four different missense mutations were identified, 13 of which have not been reported before. All nine echinocandin-resistant Candida isolates showed mutations in the hot spot (HS) regions of FKS1, FKS2 or GSC1. In ERG3 two homozygous premature stop codons were identified in two highly azole-resistant and moderately echinocandin-resistant C. albicans strains. Seven point mutations in ERG11 were determined in azole-resistant C. albicans whereas in azole-resistant C. glabrata, no ERG11 mutations were detected. In 10 out of 13 azole-resistant C. glabrata, 12 different potential gain-of-function mutations in the transcription factor CgPDR1 were verified, which are associated with an overexpression of the efflux pumps CDR1/2. CONCLUSION:This study showed that next generation sequencing allows the thorough investigation of a large number of isolates more cost efficient and faster than conventional Sanger sequencing. Targeting different resistance genes and a large sample size of highly resistant strains allows a better determination of the relevance of the different mutations, and to differentiate between causal mutations and polymorphisms.
Project description:In Candida albicans, Upc2 is a zinc-cluster transcription factor that targets genes, including those of the ergosterol biosynthesis pathway. To date, three documented UPC2 gain-of-function (GOF) mutations have been recovered from fluconazole-resistant clinical isolates that contribute to an increase in ERG11 expression and decreased fluconazole susceptibility. In a group of 63 isolates with reduced susceptibility to fluconazole, we found that 47 overexpressed ERG11 by at least 2-fold over the average expression levels in 3 unrelated fluconazole-susceptible strains. Of those 47 isolates, 29 contained a mutation in UPC2, whereas the remaining 18 isolates did not. Among the isolates containing mutations in UPC2, we recovered eight distinct mutations resulting in putative single amino acid substitutions: G648D, G648S, A643T, A643V, Y642F, G304R, A646V, and W478C. Seven of these resulted in increased ERG11 expression, increased cellular ergosterol, and decreased susceptibility to fluconazole compared to the results for the wild-type strain. Genome-wide transcriptional analysis was performed for the four strongest Upc2 amino acid substitutions (A643V, G648D, G648S, and Y642F). Genes commonly upregulated by all four mutations included those involved in ergosterol biosynthesis, in oxidoreductase activity, the major facilitator efflux pump encoded by the MDR1 gene, and the uncharacterized ATP binding cassette transporter CDR11. These findings demonstrate that gain-of-function mutations in UPC2 are more prevalent among clinical isolates than previously thought and make a significant contribution to azole antifungal resistance, but the findings do not account for ERG11 overexpression in all such isolates of C. albicans.
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:Background and Purpose:The frequency of opportunistic fungal infections in immunocompromised patients, especially by Candida species, has sharply increased in the last few decades. The objective of this study was to analyse the ergosterol content and gene expression profiling of clinical isolates of fluconazole-resistant Candida albicans. Materials and Methods:Sixty clinical samples were identified and collected from immunocompromised patients, namely recurrent oral, vaginal, and cutaneous candidiasis, during 2015-16. Antifungal susceptibility testing of fluconazole against clinical Candida species was performed according to Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute guidelines. Ergosterol content and gene expression profiling of sterol 14?-demethylase (ERG11) gene in fluconazole-susceptible and -resistant C. albicans were investigated. Results:The specimens consisted of C. albicans (46.67%), Candida krusei (41.67%), and Candida tropicalis (11.67%). All the isolates were resistant to fluconazole. No significant reduction was noted in total cellular ergosterol content in comparison with untreated controls in terms of fluconazole-resistant C. albicans. The expressionlevel of ERG11 gene was down-regulated in fluconazole-susceptible C. albicans. Eventually, the expression pattern of ERG11 gene revealed no significant changes in fluconazole-resistant isolates compared to untreated controls. The results revealed no significant differences between fluconazole-susceptible and -resistant C. albicans sequences by comparison with ERG11 reference sequence. Conclusion:Our findings provide an insight into the mechanism of fluconazole resistance in C. albicans. The mechanisms proposed for clinical isolates of fluconazole-resistant C. albicans are alteration in sterol biosynthesis, analysis of expression level of ERG11 gene, and analysis of gene sequences. Nonetheless, further studies are imperative to find molecular mechanisms that could be targeted to control fluconazole resistance.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Marked increases in fluconazole resistance in Candida tropicalis have been recently reported. In this study, the molecular mechanisms behind fluconazole resistance were investigated. METHODS:Twenty-two C. tropicalis clinical isolates, including 12 fluconazole-resistant isolates and 10 fluconazole-susceptible isolates, were collected from a tertiary care teaching hospital in Beijing between 2013 and 2017. Antifungal susceptibility testing, multilocus sequence typing, ERG11 amplification and sequencing, quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (ERG11, UPC2, MDR1, and CDR1), and clinical data collection were performed for all C. tropicalis isolates. RESULTS:Multilocus sequence typing revealed that the 10 fluconazole-susceptible isolates and 12 fluconazole-resistant isolates were divided into nine and seven diploid sequence types, respectively. Of the 12 patients with fluconazole-resistant isolates, six had been previously exposed to azole and four had a fatal outcome. Y132F and S154F amino acid substitutions in Erg11p were found in all fluconazole-resistant isolates except one. MDR1 gene overexpression was identified in fluconazole-resistant isolates. In particular, seven high-level fluconazole resistant isolates (minimum inhibitory concentration ≥ 128 mg/L) and three pan-azole resistant isolates were identified. CDR1, ERG11, and UPC2 gene expression levels in fluconazole-resistant isolates were not significantly different from the control isolates (P = 0.262, P = 0.598, P = 0.114, respectively). CONCLUSIONS:This study provides evidence that the combination of MDR1 gene overexpression and ERG11 missense mutations is responsible for high-level fluconazole resistance and pan-azole resistance in C. tropicalis clinical isolates. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study investigating the relationship between MDR1 gene overexpression and increased fluconazole resistance.