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mSphere. 2018 May 23;3(3). pii: e00223-18. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00223-18. eCollection 2018 May-Jun.

Peptide-Like Nylon-3 Polymers with Activity against Phylogenetically Diverse, Intrinsically Drug-Resistant Pathogenic Fungi.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
2
Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
3
Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
4
Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA gellman@chem.wisc.edu npkeller@wisc.edu cmhull@wisc.edu.
5
Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA gellman@chem.wisc.edu npkeller@wisc.edu cmhull@wisc.edu.

Abstract

Understanding the dimensions of fungal diversity has major implications for the control of diseases in humans, plants, and animals and in the overall health of ecosystems on the planet. One ancient evolutionary strategy organisms use to manage interactions with microbes, including fungi, is to produce host defense peptides (HDPs). HDPs and their synthetic analogs have been subjects of interest as potential therapeutic agents. Due to increases in fungal disease worldwide, there is great interest in developing novel antifungal agents. Here we describe activity of polymeric HDP analogs against fungi from 18 pathogenic genera composed of 41 species and 72 isolates. The synthetic polymers are members of the nylon-3 family (poly-β-amino acid materials). Three different nylon-3 polymers show high efficacy against surprisingly diverse fungi. Across the phylogenetic spectrum (with the exception of Aspergillus species), yeasts, dermatophytes, dimorphic fungi, and molds were all sensitive to the effects of these polymers. Even fungi intrinsically resistant to current antifungal drugs, such as the causative agents of mucormycosis (Rhizopus spp.) and those with acquired resistance to azole drugs, showed nylon-3 polymer sensitivity. In addition, the emerging pathogens Pseudogymnoascus destructans (cause of white nose syndrome in bats) and Candida auris (cause of nosocomial infections of humans) were also sensitive. The three nylon-3 polymers exhibited relatively low toxicity toward mammalian cells. These findings raise the possibility that nylon-3 polymers could be useful against fungi for which there are only limited and/or no antifungal agents available at present.IMPORTANCE Fungi reside in all ecosystems on earth and impart both positive and negative effects on human, plant, and animal health. Fungal disease is on the rise worldwide, and there is a critical need for more effective and less toxic antifungal agents. Nylon-3 polymers are short, sequence random, poly-β-amino acid materials that can be designed to manifest antimicrobial properties. Here, we describe three nylon-3 polymers with potent activity against the most phylogenetically diverse set of fungi evaluated thus far in a single study. In contrast to traditional peptides, nylon-3 polymers are highly stable to proteolytic degradation and can be produced efficiently in large quantities at low cost. The ability to modify nylon-3 polymer composition easily creates an opportunity to tailor efficacy and toxicity, which makes these materials attractive as potential broad-spectrum antifungal therapeutics.

KEYWORDS:

antifungal drug development; emerging pathogens; fungal disease; host defense peptide mimics; nylon-3 polymers

PMID:
29794056
PMCID:
PMC5967195
DOI:
10.1128/mSphere.00223-18
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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