Repurposing the FDA-approved anticancer agent ponatinib as a fluconazole potentiator by suppression of multidrug efflux and Pma1 expression in a broad spectrum of yeast species

Microb Biotechnol. 2022 Feb;15(2):482-498. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.13814. Epub 2021 May 6.


Fungal infections have emerged as a major global threat to human health because of the increasing incidence and mortality rates every year. The emergence of drug resistance and limited arsenal of antifungal agents further aggravates the current situation resulting in a growing challenge in medical mycology. Here, we identified that ponatinib, an FDA-approved antitumour drug, significantly enhanced the activity of the azole fluconazole, the most widely used antifungal drug. Further detailed investigation of ponatinib revealed that its combination with fluconazole displayed broad-spectrum synergistic interactions against a variety of human fungal pathogens such as Candida albicans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Cryptococcus neoformans. Mechanistic insights into the mode of action unravelled that ponatinib reduced the efflux of fluconazole via Pdr5 and suppressed the expression of the proton pump, Pma1. Taken together, our study identifies ponatinib as a novel antifungal that enhances drug activity of fluconazole against diverse fungal pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Candida
  • Drug Repositioning
  • Fluconazole / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Phylogeny
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases
  • Pyridazines
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Imidazoles
  • Pyridazines
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • ponatinib
  • Fluconazole
  • PMA1 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases