Drug-resistant pathogenic fungi use several families of membrane-embedded transporters to efflux antifungal drugs from the cells. The efflux pump Cdr1 (Candida drug resistance 1) belongs to the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) superfamily of transporters. Cdr1 is one of the most predominant mechanisms of multidrug resistance in azole-resistant (AR) clinical isolates of Candida albicans. Blocking drug efflux represents an attractive approach to combat the multidrug resistance of this opportunistic human pathogen. In this study, we rationally designed and synthesized transmembrane peptide mimics (TMPMs) of Cdr1 protein (Cdr1p) that correspond to each of the 12 transmembrane helices (TMHs) of the two transmembrane domains of the protein to target the primary structure of the Cdr1p. Several FITC-tagged TMPMs specifically bound to Cdr1p and blocked the efflux of entrapped fluorescent dyes from the AR (Gu5) isolate. These TMPMs did not affect the efflux of entrapped fluorescent dye from cells expressing the Cdr1p homologue Cdr2p or from cells expressing a non-ABC transporter Mdr1p. Notably, the time correlation of single photon counting fluorescence measurements confirmed the specific interaction of FITC-tagged TMPMs with their respective TMH. By using mutant variants of Cdr1p, we show that these TMPM antagonists contain the structural information necessary to target their respective TMHs of Cdr1p and specific binding sites that mediate the interactions between the mimics and its respective helix. Additionally, TMPMs that were devoid of any demonstrable hemolytic, cytotoxic, and antifungal activities chemosensitize AR clinical isolates and demonstrate synergy with drugs that further improved the therapeutic potential of fluconazole in vivo.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology