Antifungal activity, mode of action variability, and subcellular distribution of coumarin-based antifungal azoles

Rebecca Elias, Raphael I. Benhamou, Qais Z. Jaber, Orly Dorot, Sivan Louzoun Zada, K. Oved, Edward Pichinuk, M. Fridman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Azole antifungals inhibit the biosynthesis of ergosterol, the fungal equivalent of cholesterol in mammalian cells. Here we report an investigation of the activity of coumarin-substituted azole antifungals. Screening against a panel of Candida pathogens, including a mutant lacking CYP51, the target of antifungal azoles, revealed that this enzyme is inhibited by triazole-based antifungals, whereas imidazole-based derivatives have more than one mode of action. The imidazole-bearing antifungals more effectively reduced trailing growth associated with persistence and/or recurrence of fungal infections than triazole-based derivatives. The imidazole derivatives were more toxic to mammalian cells and more potently inhibited the activity of CYP3A4, which is one of the main causes of azole toxicity. Using live cell imaging, we showed that regardless of the type of azole ring fluorescent 7-diethylaminocoumarin-based azoles localized to the endoplasmic reticulum, the organelle that harbors CYP51. This study suggests that the coumarin is a promising scaffold for development of novel azole-based antifungals that effectively localize to the fungal cell endoplasmic reticulum.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)779-790
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Masson SAS


  • Antifungal azoles
  • Antifungals
  • Fluorescent imaging
  • Organelle targeting


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