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Interrogation of related clinical pan-azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus strains: G138C, Y431C, and G434C single nucleotide polymorphisms in cyp51A, upregulation of cyp51A, and integration and activation of transposon Atf1 in the cyp51A promoter.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Multiple Aspergillus fumigatus isolates from a patient with two aspergillomas complicating chronic pulmonary aspergillosis were pan-azole resistant. Microsatellite typing was identical for all isolates despite major phenotypic and some growth rate differences. Three different cyp51A mutations were found (G138C, Y431C, and G434C), of which the first two were demonstrated by heterologous expression in a hypersusceptible Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain to be at least partly responsible for elevated MICs. cyp51A and cyp51B gene duplication was excluded, but increased expression of cyp51A was demonstrated in three isolates selected for additional study (7-to 13-fold increases). In the isolate with the greatest cyp51A expression, an Aft1 transposon was found inserted 370 bp upstream of the start codon of the cyp51A gene, an integration location never previously demonstrated in Aspergillus. Two transcription start sites were identified at 49 and 136 bp upstream of the start codon. The role of the Aft1 transposon, if any, in modulating cyp51A expression remains to be established. Increased mRNA expression of the transporters AfuMDR1 and AfuMDR4 also was demonstrated in some isolates, which could contribute to azole resistance or simply represent a stress response. The diversity of confirmed and possible azole resistance mechanisms demonstrated in a single series of isogenic isolates is remarkable, indicating the ability of A. fumigatus to adapt in the clinical setting.
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