Calcineurin in fungal virulence and drug resistance: Prospects for harnessing targeted inhibition of calcineurin for an antifungal therapeutic approach.

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Author: 

Juvvadi PR, Lee SC, Heitman J, Steinbach WJ.
Virulence. 2017 Feb 17;8(2):186-197.

Abstract: 

Increases in the incidence and mortality due to the major invasive fungal infections such as aspergillosis, candidiasis and cryptococcosis caused by the species of Aspergillus, Candida and Cryptococcus, are a growing threat to the immunosuppressed patient population. In addition to the limited armamentarium of the current classes of antifungal agents available (pyrimidine analogs, polyenes, azoles, and echinocandins), their toxicity, efficacy and the emergence of resistance are major bottlenecks limiting successful patient outcomes. Although these drugs target distinct fungal pathways, there is an urgent need to develop new antifungals that are more efficacious, fungal-specific, with reduced or no toxicity and simultaneously do not induce resistance. Here we review several lines of evidence which indicate that the calcineurin signaling pathway, a target of the immunosuppressive drugs FK506 and cyclosporine A, orchestrates growth, virulence and drug resistance in a variety of fungal pathogens and can be exploited for novel antifungal drug development.

KEYWORDS:

FK506; FKBP12; Hsp90; antifungals; azoles; calcineurin; cyclosporine A; drug resistance; echinocandins; virulence