Lipopeptide inhibitors of fungal glucan synthase

J Med Vet Mycol. Mar-Apr 1997;35(2):79-86. doi: 10.1080/02681219780000961.


The echinocandins and pneumocandins are lipopeptide antifungal agents that inhibit the synthesis of 1,3-beta-D-glucan, an essential cell wall homopolysaccharide found in many pathogenic fungi. Compounds with this fungal-specific target have several attractive features: lack of mechanism-based toxicity, potential for fungicidal activity and activity against strains with intrinsic or acquired resistance mechanisms for existing antimycotics. Semi-synthetic analogues of naturally occurring lipopeptides are currently in clinical trials with the aim of treating systemic candidiasis and aspergillosis. Thus a fuller understanding of the target enzyme and its inhibition by these compounds should be useful for epidemiological and other clinical studies. Although it has been long known that lipopeptides inhibit fungal glucan synthase activity both in cell extracts and in whole cells, the genetic and biochemical identification of the proteins involved has been accomplished only recently. We now know that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, glucan synthase is a heteromeric enzyme complex comprising one large integral membrane protein (specified by either FKS1 or by FKS2) and one small subunit more loosely associated with the membrane (specified by RHO1). Additional components may also be involved. The heteromeric enzyme complex containing Fks1p constitutes the majority of the activity found in vegetatively growing cells in this organism. The FKS2 gene product is needed for sporulation. Lipopeptides affect the function of the Fksp component from either FKS gene. The current model for interaction and regulation of these components in S. cerevisiae and the application to Candida albicans and other pathogenic fungi are discussed in this review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Fungal Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Fungi / enzymology*
  • Fungi / genetics
  • Fungi / physiology
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Glucosyltransferases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Mycoses / drug therapy
  • Peptides, Cyclic / pharmacology*
  • Peptides, Cyclic / therapeutic use
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins*
  • Spores, Fungal


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Peptides, Cyclic
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • 1,3-beta-glucan synthase