Identification and properties of plasma membrane azole efflux pumps from the pathogenic fungi Cryptococcus gattii and Cryptococcus neoformans

Luiz R. Basso, Charles E. Gast, Igor Bruzual, Brian Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objectives: Cryptococcus gattii from the North American Northwest (NW) have higher azole MICs than do non- NW C. gattii or Cryptococcus neoformans. Since mechanisms of azole resistance in C. gattii are not known, we identified C. gattii and C. neoformans plasma membrane azole efflux pumps and characterized their properties. Methods: The C. gattii R265 genome was searched for orthologues of known fungal azole efflux genes, expression of candidate genes was assessed by RT-PCR and the expressed genes' cDNAs were cloned and expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Azole MICs and intracellular [3H]fluconazole were measured in C. gattii and C. neoformans and in S. cerevisiae expressing each cDNA of interest, as was [3H]fluconazole uptake by post- Golgi vesicles (PGVs) isolated from S. cerevisiae sec6-4 mutants expressing each cDNA of interest. Results: Intracellular [3H]fluconazole concentrations were inversely correlated with fluconazole MICs only in 25 NW C. gattii strains. S. cerevisiae expressing three C. gattii cDNAs (encoded by orthologues of C. neoformans AFR1 and MDR1 and the previously unstudied gene AFR2) and their C. neoformans counterparts had higher azole MICs and lower intracellular [3H]fluconazole concentrations than did empty-vector controls. PGVs from S. cerevisiae expressing all six Cryptococcus cDNAs also accumulated more [3H]fluconazole than did controls, and [3H]fluconazole transport by all six transporters of interest was ATP dependent and was inhibited by excess unlabelled fluconazole, voriconazole, itraconazole and posaconazole. Conclusions: We conclude that C. gattii and C. neoformans AFR1, MDR1 and AFR2 encode ABC transporters that pump multiple azoles out of S. cerevisiae cells, thereby causing azole resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1396-1407
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 20 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Azole resistance
  • C. gattii
  • C. neoformans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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