Objectives: The aim of this study was to identify changes in the gene expression profile of Candida albicans associated with the acquisition of experimentally induced resistance to amphotericin B and fluconazole.
Methods: C. albicans SC5314 was passed in increasing concentrations of amphotericin B to generate isolate SC5314-AR. Susceptibility testing by Etest revealed SC5314-AR to be highly resistant to both amphotericin B and fluconazole. The gene expression profile of SC5314-AR was compared with that of SC5314 using DNA microarray analysis. Sterol composition was determined for both strains.
Results: Upon examination of MICs of antifungal compounds, it was found that SC5314-AR was resistant to both amphotericin B and fluconazole. By microarray analysis a total of 134 genes were found to be differentially expressed, that is up-regulated or down-regulated by at least 50%, in SC5314-AR. In addition to the cell stress genes DDR48 and RTA2, the ergosterol biosynthesis genes ERG5, ERG6 and ERG25 were up-regulated. Several histone genes, protein synthesis genes and energy generation genes were down-regulated. Sterol analysis revealed the prevalence of sterol intermediates eburicol and lanosterol in SC5314-AR, whereas ergosterol was the predominant sterol in SC5314.
Conclusion: Along with changes in expression of these ergosterol biosynthesis genes was the accumulation of sterol intermediates in the resistant strain, which would account for the decreased affinity of amphotericin B for membrane sterols and a decreased requirement for lanosterol demethylase activity in membrane sterol production. Furthermore, other genes are implicated as having a potential role in the polyene and azole antifungal resistant phenotype.