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PLoS One. 2015 May 7;10(5):e0126350. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126350. eCollection 2015.

Inhibitors of the Candida albicans Major Facilitator Superfamily Transporter Mdr1p Responsible for Fluconazole Resistance.

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The Sir John Walsh Research Institute, School of Dentistry, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
MicroCombiChem e.K., Wiesbaden, Germany.



To identify a novel class of inhibitors of fungal transporters involved in drug resistance.


A series of structurally-related low molecular mass compounds was synthesized using combinatorial chemistry of a cyclobutene-dione (squarile) core. These compounds were screened for their inhibition of plasma membrane Major Facilitator Superfamily (MFS) and ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters responsible for efflux pump-mediated drug resistance in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans. Strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that specifically overexpress the MFS pump CaMdr1p or the ABC transporter CaCdr1p were used in primary screens and counterscreens, respectively, and to detect inhibition of glucose-dependent Nile Red efflux. Efflux pump inhibition, activity as pump substrates and antifungal activity against yeast and clinical isolates expressing efflux pumps were determined using agarose diffusion susceptibility assays and checkerboard liquid chemosensitization assays with fluconazole.


The screen identified five structurally-related compounds which inhibited CaMdr1p. Two compounds, A and B, specifically chemosensitized AD/CaMDR1 to FLC in a pH-dependent fashion and acted synergistically with FLC in checkerboard liquid MIC assays but compound B had limited solubility. Compound A chemosensitized to FLC the azole-resistant C. albicans strain FR2, which over-expresses CaMdr1p, inhibited Nile Red efflux mediated by CaMdr1p but not CaCdr1p and was not toxic to cultured human cells. A minor growth-inhibitory effect of B on AD/CaMDR1, but not on AD/CaCDR1 and AD/CaCDR2, indicated that compound B may be a substrate of these transporters. The related compound F was found to have antifungal activity against the three pump over-expressing strains used in the study.


Compound A is a 'first in class' small molecule inhibitor of MFS efflux pump CaMdr1p.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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