Fungal Lanosterol 14α-demethylase: A target for next-generation antifungal design

Biochim Biophys Acta Proteins Proteom. 2020 Mar;1868(3):140206. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2019.02.008. Epub 2019 Mar 6.


The cytochrome P450 enzyme lanosterol 14α-demethylase (LDM) is the target of the azole antifungals used widely in medicine and agriculture as prophylaxis or treatments of infections or diseases caused by fungal pathogens. These drugs and agrochemicals contain an imidazole, triazole or tetrazole substituent, with one of the nitrogens in the azole ring coordinating as the sixth axial ligand to the LDM heme iron. Structural studies show that this membrane bound enzyme contains a relatively rigid ligand binding pocket comprised of a deeply buried heme-containing active site together with a substrate entry channel and putative product exit channel that reach to the membrane. Within the ligand binding pocket the azole antifungals have additional affinity determining interactions with hydrophobic side-chains, the polypeptide backbone and via water-mediated hydrogen bond networks. This review will describe the tools that can be used to identify and characterise the next generation of antifungals targeting LDM, with the goal of obtaining highly potent broad-spectrum fungicides that will be able to avoid target and drug efflux mediated antifungal resistance.

Keywords: Antifungal discovery; Antifungal resistance; Azole antifungals; Environmental change; Fungal infections; Lanosterol 14alpha-demethylase; X-ray crystallography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 14-alpha Demethylase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • 14-alpha Demethylase Inhibitors / economics
  • 14-alpha Demethylase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • 14-alpha Demethylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Agrochemicals / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Antifungal Agents / chemistry
  • Antifungal Agents / economics
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Azoles / chemistry
  • Azoles / economics
  • Azoles / pharmacology
  • Azoles / therapeutic use
  • Drug Discovery
  • Ecosystem
  • Food Supply
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mycoses / drug therapy
  • Sterol 14-Demethylase / chemistry*
  • Sterol 14-Demethylase / metabolism


  • 14-alpha Demethylase Inhibitors
  • Agrochemicals
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Azoles
  • Sterol 14-Demethylase