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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2002 Nov;46(11):3532-9.

Histone deacetylase inhibitors enhance Candida albicans sensitivity to azoles and related antifungals: correlation with reduction in CDR and ERG upregulation.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19129, USA.


Histone acetylation and deacetylation play important roles in eukaryotic gene regulation. Several histone deacetylase (HDA) inhibitors have been characterized, including trichostatin A (TSA), apicidin, and sodium butyrate. We tested their effects on Candida albicans in vitro growth, heat sensitivity, and germ tube formation; minimal effects were observed. However, there was a dramatic effect of TSA on C. albicans sensitivity to the azoles fluconazole, itraconazole, and miconazole. Similar effects were observed with other HDA inhibitors and with the antifungals terbinafine and fenpropimorph, which target, as do azoles, enzymes in the ergosterol biosynthetic pathway. In contrast, HDA inhibitors had minimal effect on the activities of amphotericin B, flucytosine, and echinocandin, which have unrelated targets. Specifically, addition of 3 micro g of TSA/ml lowered the itraconazole MIC for five susceptible C. albicans isolates an average of 2.7-fold at 24 h, but this increased to >200-fold at 48 h. Thus, the primary effect of TSA was a reduction in azole trailing. TSA also enhanced itraconazole activity against Candida parapsilosis and Candida tropicalis but had no effect with four less related yeast species. To examine the molecular basis for these effects, we studied expression of ERG genes (encoding azole and terbinafine targets) and CDR/MDR1 genes (encoding multidrug transporters) in C. albicans cells treated with fluconazole or terbinafine with or without TSA. Both antifungals induced to various levels the expression of ERG1, ERG11, CDR1, and CDR2; addition of TSA reduced this upregulation 50 to 100%. This most likely explains the inhibition of azole and terbinafine trailing by TSA and, more generally, provides evidence that trailing is mediated by upregulation of target enzymes and multidrug transporters.

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