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Microbiology spectrum

Omer Barda  
Sudharsan Sadhasivam
Di Gong
Adi Doron-Faigenboim
Varda Zakin
Milton T. Drott
Edward Sionov 

Aspergillus flavus is a mycotoxigenic fungus that contaminates many important agricultural crops with aflatoxin B1, the most toxic and carcinogenic natural compound. This fungus is also the second leading cause of human invasive aspergillosis, after Aspergillus fumigatus, a disease that is particularly prevalent in immunocompromised individuals. Azole drugs are considered the most effective compounds in controlling Aspergillus infections both in clinical and agricultural settings. Emergence of azole resistance in Aspergillus spp. is typically associated with point mutations in cyp51 orthologs that encode lanosterol 14α-demethylase, a component of the ergosterol biosynthesis pathway that is also the target of azoles. We hypothesized that alternative molecular mechanisms are also responsible for acquisition of azole resistance in filamentous fungi. We found that an aflatoxin-producing A. flavus strain adapted to voriconazole exposure at levels above the MIC through whole or segmental aneuploidy of specific chromosomes. We confirm a complete duplication of chromosome 8 in two sequentially isolated clones and a segmental duplication of chromosome 3 in another clone, emphasizing the potential diversity of aneuploidy-mediated resistance mechanisms. The plasticity of aneuploidy-mediated resistance was evidenced by the ability of voriconazole-resistant clones to revert to their original level of azole susceptibility following repeated transfers on drug-free media. This study provides new insights into mechanisms of azole resistance in a filamentous fungus.

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Aneuploidy Formation in the Filamentous Fungus Aspergillus flavus in Response to Azole Stress

Omer Barda  
Sudharsan Sadhasivam
Di Gong
Adi Doron-Faigenboim
Varda Zakin
Milton T. Drott
Edward Sionov 

Aneuploidy Formation in the Filamentous Fungus Aspergillus flavus in Response to Azole Stress

Aspergillus flavus is a mycotoxigenic fungus that contaminates many important agricultural crops with aflatoxin B1, the most toxic and carcinogenic natural compound. This fungus is also the second leading cause of human invasive aspergillosis, after Aspergillus fumigatus, a disease that is particularly prevalent in immunocompromised individuals. Azole drugs are considered the most effective compounds in controlling Aspergillus infections both in clinical and agricultural settings. Emergence of azole resistance in Aspergillus spp. is typically associated with point mutations in cyp51 orthologs that encode lanosterol 14α-demethylase, a component of the ergosterol biosynthesis pathway that is also the target of azoles. We hypothesized that alternative molecular mechanisms are also responsible for acquisition of azole resistance in filamentous fungi. We found that an aflatoxin-producing A. flavus strain adapted to voriconazole exposure at levels above the MIC through whole or segmental aneuploidy of specific chromosomes. We confirm a complete duplication of chromosome 8 in two sequentially isolated clones and a segmental duplication of chromosome 3 in another clone, emphasizing the potential diversity of aneuploidy-mediated resistance mechanisms. The plasticity of aneuploidy-mediated resistance was evidenced by the ability of voriconazole-resistant clones to revert to their original level of azole susceptibility following repeated transfers on drug-free media. This study provides new insights into mechanisms of azole resistance in a filamentous fungus.

Scientific Publication
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