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J Med Microbiol. 2011 Sep;60(Pt 9):1241-7. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.030692-0. Epub 2011 Apr 7.

Transcriptional regulation of drug-resistance genes in Candida albicans biofilms in response to antifungals.

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Oral Biosciences, Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR.


Biofilm formation is a major virulence attribute of Candida albicans and is directly associated with therapeutic failure. One method by which Candida acquires antifungal resistance is the expression of drug-resistance genes. This study aimed to evaluate the transcriptional regulation of several genes associated with antifungal resistance of C. albicans under planktonic, recently adhered and biofilm growth modes and in C. albicans biofilms in response to antifungal agents. Initially, the antifungal susceptibility of C. albicans cultures in different growth modes was evaluated by standard antifungal susceptibility testing. Next, to assess CDR1, CDR2, MDR1, ERG11, FKS1 and PIL1 expression, RNA was harvested from cells in each growth mode, and from biofilms after drug treatment, and subjected to quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR). Biofilm C. albicans was more resistant to antifungals than recently adhered cells and stationary-phase planktonic cultures. Transcriptional expression of CDR1, CDR2, MDR1, ERG11 and FKS1 was lower in recently adhered C. albicans than in the stationary-phase planktonic cultures. In contrast, PIL1 levels were significantly increased in recently adhered and biofilm modes of growth. The expression of MDR1 in biofilms greatly increased on challenge with amphotericin B but not with the other drugs tested (P<0.01). ERG11 was significantly upregulated by ketoconazole (P<0.01). Caspofungin and amphotericin B significantly upregulated FKS1 expression, whereas they significantly downregulated PIL1 expression (P<0.01). These results indicate that the expression of drug-resistance genes is associated with higher drug resistance of Candida biofilms, and lay a foundation for future large-scale genome-wide expression analysis.

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