Fungal Biol. 2021 May;125(5):378-388. doi: 10.1016/j.funbio.2020.12.004. Epub 2020 Dec 23.
Candida haemulonii species complex (C. haemulonii, C. haemulonii var. vulnera and Candida duobushaemulonii) is composed by emerging and multidrug-resistant (MDR) yeasts. Candidiasis, the disease caused by these species, is difficult to treat and culminates in clinical failures and patient death. It is well-known that Candida peptidases play important roles in the fungus-host interactions, and hence these enzymes are promising targets for developing new antifungal drugs. Recently, serine-type peptidases were described in clinical isolates of C. haemulonii complex with the ability to cleave relevant key host proteins. Herein, the effects of serine peptidase inhibitors (SPIs) on the cell biology of this fungal complex were evaluated. Initially, eight distinct SPIs (phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride - PMSF, 4-(2-aminoethyl) benzenesulfonyl fluoride hydrochloride - AEBSF, N-α-tosyl-l-lysine chloromethyl ketone hydrochloride - TLCK, N-p-tosyl-l-phenylalanine chloromethyl ketone - TPCK, simeprevir, boceprevir, danoprevir and telaprevir) were tested on the fungal growth. TPCK showed the best efficacy in controlling cell proliferation, being selected for the following experiments. This SPI induced changes in the architecture of yeast cells, as observed by scanning electron microscopy, besides injuries at the plasma membrane and reduction in the ergosterol content. TPCK also diminished the ability of yeasts to adhere to abiotic (polystyrene and glass) and biotic (murine macrophages) surfaces in a typically concentration-dependent manner. In addition, the 24 h-treatment of the mature biofilm promoted a decrease in biomass, viability and extracellular matrix. Altogether, our results highlight that SPIs may be promising new therapeutic agents in the treatment of candidiasis caused by emergent, opportunistic and MDR species forming the C. haemulonii complex.