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Chem Biol. 2008 Apr;15(4):363-74. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2008.02.016.

PAP inhibitor with in vivo efficacy identified by Candida albicans genetic profiling of natural products.

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Center of Fungal Genetics, Merck Frosst Canada & Co., 225 President Kennedy West, Suite 2550, Montreal, Quebec H2X 3Y8, Canada.


Natural products provide an unparalleled source of chemical scaffolds with diverse biological activities and have profoundly impacted antimicrobial drug discovery. To further explore the full potential of their chemical diversity, we survey natural products for antifungal, target-specific inhibitors by using a chemical-genetic approach adapted to the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans and demonstrate that natural-product fermentation extracts can be mechanistically annotated according to heterozygote strain responses. Applying this approach, we report the discovery and characterization of a natural product, parnafungin, which we demonstrate, by both biochemical and genetic means, to inhibit poly(A) polymerase. Parnafungin displays potent and broad spectrum activity against diverse, clinically relevant fungal pathogens and reduces fungal burden in a murine model of disseminated candidiasis. Thus, mechanism-of-action determination of crude fermentation extracts by chemical-genetic profiling brings a powerful strategy to natural-product-based drug discovery.

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