Long-chain unsaturated fatty acids are involved in the viability and itraconazole susceptibility of Aspergillus fumigatus

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2021 Dec 31;585:82-88. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2021.11.033. Epub 2021 Nov 12.


The prevalence of invasive aspergillosis with azole resistance is increasing, but the mechanisms underlying the development of resistance and treatment strategies are still limited. The present work is focused on finding a relationship between long-chain unsaturated fatty acids (LCUFAs), Aspergillus fumigatus development, and antifungal resistance. The effects of LCUFAs on antifungal agents in vitro were determined, and the stearic acid desaturase gene (sdeA) of A. fumigatus was characterized. In in vitro antifungal tests, LCUFAs antagonized the antifungal activity of itraconazole by extracting it from media, thereby preventing it from entering cells. The OA auxotrophic phenotype caused by an sdeA deletion confirmed that SdeA was required for OA biosynthesis in A. fumigatus. Furthermore, several low-level sdeA-overexpressing mutants with impaired vegetative growth phenotypes were successfully constructed. Additionally, an sdeA-overexpressing mutant, OEsdeA-5, showed lowered sensitivity levels to itraconazole. Moreover, RNA sequencing of OEsdeA-5 revealed that the altered gene-expression pattern. Through targeted metabolomics, decreased palmitic acid and stearic acid contents, accompanied by higher palmitoleic acid, margaroleic acid, and OA production levels, were found in OEsdeA-5. This study provides a novel insight of understanding of azole resistance and a potential target for drug development.

Keywords: Aspergillus fumigatus; Azole susceptibility; Itraconazole; Long-chain unsaturated fatty acids; Oleic acid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / genetics*
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal / genetics*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Itraconazole / pharmacology*
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Microbial Viability / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Palmitic Acid / metabolism
  • RNA-Seq / methods
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Stearic Acids / metabolism
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase / genetics
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase / metabolism


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Stearic Acids
  • Palmitic Acid
  • Itraconazole
  • stearic acid
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase