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Med Mycol. 2004 Dec;42(6):525-9.

Biochemical characterization of terbinafine-resistant Trichophyton rubrum isolates.

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Novartis Research Institute, Vienna, Austria.


We investigated the biochemical basis for resistance in six sequential clinical isolates of Trichophyton rubrum, from the same patient, which exhibited high-level primary resistance to terbinafine. Cellular ergosterol biosynthesis was measured by incorporation of [14C]acetate, and microsomal squalene epoxidase was assayed by conversion of [3H]squalene to squalene epoxide and lanosterol. Direct comparison was made with a terbinafine-susceptible reference strain of T. rubrum in which squalene epoxidase was previously studied. Resistant isolates displayed normal cellular ergosterol biosynthesis, although slight accumulation of radiolabeled squalene suggested reduced squalene epoxidase activity. Ergosterol biosynthesis in the resistant isolates was only inhibited by terbinafine concentrations above 1 microg/ml (IC50 5 microg/ml). In the reference strain, ergosterol biosynthesis was eliminated by terbinafine at 0.03 microg/ml in accordance with historical data. There was no significant difference in sensitivity between the six resistant isolates. Squalene epoxidase from resistant strains was three orders of magnitude less sensitive than normal enzyme to terbinafine (IC50 of 30 micromol/l and 19 n mol/l respectively). The epoxidase in the resistant strains was also unresponsive to tolnaftate. Resistance to terbinafine in these T. rubrum isolates appears to be due to alterations in the squalene epoxidase gene or a factor essential for its activity.

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