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Eukaryot Cell. 2013 Dec;12(12):1619-28. doi: 10.1128/EC.00171-13. Epub 2013 Oct 11.

Contributions of Aspergillus fumigatus ATP-binding cassette transporter proteins to drug resistance and virulence.

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  • 1Departments of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics.


In yeast cells such as those of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, expression of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter proteins has been found to be increased and correlates with a concomitant elevation in azole drug resistance. In this study, we investigated the roles of two Aspergillus fumigatus proteins that share high sequence similarity with S. cerevisiae Pdr5, an ABC transporter protein that is commonly overproduced in azole-resistant isolates in this yeast. The two A. fumigatus genes encoding the ABC transporters sharing the highest sequence similarity to S. cerevisiae Pdr5 are called abcA and abcB here. We constructed deletion alleles of these two different ABC transporter-encoding genes in three different strains of A. fumigatus. Loss of abcB invariably elicited increased azole susceptibility, while abcA disruption alleles had variable phenotypes. Specific antibodies were raised to both AbcA and AbcB proteins. These antisera allowed detection of AbcB in wild-type cells, while AbcA could be visualized only when overproduced from the hspA promoter in A. fumigatus. Overproduction of AbcA also yielded increased azole resistance. Green fluorescent protein fusions were used to provide evidence that both AbcA and AbcB are localized to the plasma membrane in A. fumigatus. Promoter fusions to firefly luciferase suggested that expression of both ABC transporter-encoding genes is inducible by azole challenge. Virulence assays implicated AbcB as a possible factor required for normal pathogenesis. This work provides important new insights into the physiological roles of ABC transporters in this major fungal pathogen.

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