Rapamycin exerts antifungal activity in vitro and in vivo against Mucor circinelloides via FKBP12-dependent inhibition of Tor.
The zygomycete Mucor circinelloides is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that commonly infects patients with malignancies, diabetes mellitus, and solid organ transplants. Despite the widespread use of antifungal therapy in the management of zygomycosis, the incidence of infections continues to rise among immunocompromised individuals. In this study, we established that the target and mechanism of antifungal action of the immunosuppressant rapamycin in M. circinelloides are mediated via conserved complexes with FKBP12 and a Tor homolog. We found that spontaneous mutations that disrupted conserved residues in FKBP12 conferred rapamycin and FK506 resistance. Disruption of the FKBP12-encoding gene, fkbA, also conferred rapamycin and FK506 resistance. Expression of M. circinelloides FKBP12 (McFKBP12) complemented a Saccharomyces cerevisiae mutant strain lacking FKBP12 to restore rapamycin sensitivity. Expression of the McTor FKBP12-rapamycin binding (FRB) domain conferred rapamycin resistance in S. cerevisiae, and McFKBP12 interacted in a rapamycin-dependent fashion with the McTor FRB domain in a yeast two-hybrid assay, validating McFKBP12 and McTor as conserved targets of rapamycin. We showed that in vitro, rapamycin exhibited potent growth inhibitory activity against M. circinelloides. In a Galleria mellonella model of systemic mucormycosis, rapamycin improved survival by 50%, suggesting that rapamycin and nonimmunosuppressive analogs have the potential to be developed as novel antifungal therapies for treatment of patients with mucormycosis.
Bastidas, RJ; Shertz, CA; Lee, SC; Heitman, J; Cardenas, ME
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