Azoles are the most commonly used class of antifungal drugs, yet where they localize within fungal cells and how they are imported remain poorly understood. Azole antifungals target lanosterol 14α-demethylase, a cytochrome P450, encoded by ERG11 in Candida albicans, the most prevalent fungal pathogen. We report the synthesis of fluorescent probes that permit visualization of antifungal azoles within live cells. Probe 1 is a dansyl dye-conjugated azole, and probe 2 is a Cy5-conjugated azole. Docking computations indicated that each of the probes can occupy the active site of the target cytochrome P450. Like the azole drug fluconazole, probe 1 is not effective against a mutant that lacks the target cytochrome P450. In contrast, the azole drug ketoconazole and probe 2 retained some antifungal activity against mutants lacking the target cytochrome P450, implying that both act against more than one target. Both fluorescent azole probes colocalized with the mitochondria, as determined by fluorescence microscopy with MitoTracker dye. Thus, these fluorescent probes are useful molecular tools that can lead to detailed information about the activity and localization of the important azole class of antifungal drugs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by Israel Science Foundation Grant 6/14 (M.F.), by the European Research Council Advanced Award, number 340087, RAPLODAPT (J.B.) and by the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation grant 2014314 (Y.R.).
© 2017 American Chemical Society.