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Genome dynamics in fungi

The prevalence of fungal infections has increased globally and poses a significant health threat. This is further exacerbated by the increasing incidence of resistance to the limited number of commercially available antifungal drugs.
Genome dynamics in fungi
Genome dynamics in fungi alongside DNA organisation and genomic transmission to other cells is fundamentally different from that observed in bacteria. In addition, most drugs that inhibit fungal growth have undesirable effects on humans, rendering the design of novel anti-fungal agents an important challenge.

Identification of the genomic changes responsible for drug resistance will lead to more effective therapies. The EU-funded GENOMEDYNAMICS (Genome dynamics of the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans) project aimed to analyse the dynamic processes by which the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans evolves resistance to currently used antifungal drugs. C. albicans is the most frequently isolated fungal pathogen in clinical microbiology labs as it can cause 40 % mortality if it enters the bloodstream.

Researchers observed that the rapid acquisition of the ability to survive and grow in the presence of a drug constitutes an understudied strategy used by the pathogen. They monitored the genomic changes that affected survival and tolerance in the presence of high drug concentrations. They also used image analysis and techniques that facilitated studies at the population and single cell level.

Particular emphasis was given to heteroresistance, the ability of small subpopulations of cells to survive and grow in high drug concentrations. Through analysis of large collections of mutant isolates, scientists identified genes implicated in drug responses.

Further insight into the different molecular and behavioural trajectories used by C. albicans to survive antifungal drugs will open new routes for the development of antifungal therapies.

Related information

Keywords

Fungi, resistance, antifungal drugs, GENOMEDYNAMICS, Candida albicans
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