Characterisation of sterol biosynthesis and validation of 14α-demethylase as a drug target in Acanthamoeba

Thomson, Scott and Rice, Christopher A. and Zhang, Tong and Edrada-Ebel, RuAngelie and Henriquez, Fiona L. and Roberts, Craig W. (2017) Characterisation of sterol biosynthesis and validation of 14α-demethylase as a drug target in Acanthamoeba. Scientific Reports, 7 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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    Abstract

    The soil amoebae Acanthamoeba causes Acanthamoeba keratitis, a severe sight-threatening infection of the eye and the almost universally fatal granulomatous amoebic encephalitis. More effective treatments are required. Sterol biosynthesis has been effectively targeted in numerous fungi using azole compounds that inhibit the cytochrome P450 enzyme sterol 14α-demethylase. Herein, using Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS), we demonstrate that the major sterol of Acanthamoeba castellanii is ergosterol and identify novel putative precursors and intermediate sterols in its production. Unlike previously reported, we find no evidence of 7-dehydrostigmasterol or any other phytosterol in Acanthamoeba. Of five azoles tested, we demonstrate that tioconazole and voriconazole have the greatest overall inhibition for all isolates of Acanthamoeba castellanii and Acanthamoeba polyphaga tested. While miconazole and sulconazole have intermediate activity econazole is least effective. Through GCMS, we demonstrate that voriconazole inhibits 14α-demethylase as treatment inhibits the production of ergosterol, but results in the accumulation of the lanosterol substrate. These data provide the most complete description of sterol metabolism in Acanthamoeba, provide a putative framework for their further study and validate 14α-demethylase as the target for azoles in Acanthamoeba.