Caspofungin-resistance in Candida auris is cell wall-dependent phenotype and potential prevention by zinc oxide nanoparticles

Med Mycol. 2021 Oct 6:myab059. doi: 10.1093/mmy/myab059. Online ahead of print.


Candida auris is an emergent nosocomial multi-drug-resistant yeast that represents a global health threat. Recently, C. auris clinical isolates with caspofungin resistance were identified. Mutation in FKS1 gene was determined as a mechanism of resistance. However, the ability of C. auris to develop acquired and cross-resistance has never been investigated. Herein, this resistance ability due to caspofungin and associate mechanisms were investigated. C. auris clinical isolate was successively cultured for 10 generations in the presence of caspofungin compared to fluconazole-treatment and untreated controls. This was followed by the analysis of target gene expression and phenotypic changes. The obtained results showed that caspofungin-treated C. auris exhibited elevated MIC50(caspofungin), slower growth, elevated chitin content, overexpression of caspofungin target genes, and cross-resistance to fluconazole. Interestingly, caspofungin exposure induced cell-cell adhesion and biofilm formation. C. auris gradually lost caspofungin resistance after removal of antifungal pressure, while keeping the overexpression of fungal cell wall-related genes including ALS5. We propose that C. auris ageing in the presence of caspofungin caused the development of persistent phenotypic changes in the fungal cell wall, leading to acquired and physical cross-resistance mechanisms. Surprisingly, formulation of caspofungin in zinc oxide nanoparticles prevented the aforementioned behavioral changes regardless of the pathogen generations.

LAY SUMMARY: Candida auris developed resistance against caspofungin. Our data indicated that this resistance mechanism is unique because of changes in the genes related to cell wall adhesions. Formulation of caspofungin in ZnO nanoparticles was able to overcome these phenotypic changes.

PMID:34612496 | DOI:10.1093/mmy/myab059