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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 30;9(1):e87246. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087246. eCollection 2014.

Inhibition of nucleotide biosynthesis potentiates the antifungal activity of amphotericin B.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, United States of America.


The polyene antifungal agent Amphotericin B exhibits potent and broad spectrum fungicidal activity. However, high nephrotoxicity can hinder its administration in resource poor settings. Quantification of early fungicidal activity in studies of HIV patients with cryptococcosis demonstrate that 5-Fluorocytosine therapy in combination with Amphotericin B results in faster clearance than with Amphotericin B alone. In vitro synergy between the two drugs has also been reported but the mechanism by which 5-Fluorocytosine synergizes with Amphotericin B has not been delineated. In this study we set out to investigate the effect of genetic mutation or pharmacologic repression of de novo pyrimidine and purine biosynthesis pathways on the Amphotericin B susceptibility of Cryptococcus neoformans. We demonstrate that a ura- derivative of wild type Cryptococcus neoformans strain H99 is hypersensitive to Amphotericin B. This sensitivity is remediated by re-introduction of a wild type URA5 gene, but not by addition of exogenous uracil to supplement the auxotrophy. Repression of guanine biosynthesis by treatment with the inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase inhibitor, mycophenolic acid, was synergistic with Amphotericin B as determined by checkerboard analysis. As in Cryptococcus neoformans, a ura(-) derivative of Candida albicans was also hypersensitive to Amphotericin B, and treatment of Candida albicans with mycophenolic acid was likewise synergistic with Amphotericin B. In contrast, neither mycophenolic acid nor 5-FC had an effect on the Amphotericin B susceptibility of Aspergillus fumigatus. These studies suggest that pharmacological targeting of nucleotide biosynthesis pathways has potential to lower the effective dose of Amphotericin B for both C. neoformans and C. albicans. Given the requirement of nucleotide and nucleotide sugars for growth and pathogenesis of Cryptococcus neoformans, disrupting nucleotide metabolic pathways might thus be an effective mechanism for the development of novel antifungal drugs.

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