Candida glabrata is an emerging fungal pathogen. Its increased prevalence is associated with its ability to rapidly develop antifungal drug resistance, particularly to azoles. In order to unravel new molecular mechanisms behind azole resistance, a transcriptomics analysis of the evolution of a C. glabrata clinical isolate (isolate 044) from azole susceptibility to posaconazole resistance (21st day), clotrimazole resistance (31st day), and fluconazole and voriconazole resistance (45th day), induced by longstanding incubation with fluconazole, was carried out. All the evolved strains were found to accumulate lower concentrations of azole drugs than the parental strain, while the ergosterol concentration remained mostly constant. However, only the population displaying resistance to all azoles was found to have a gain-of-function mutation in the C. glabrata PDR1 gene, leading to the upregulation of genes encoding multidrug resistance transporters. Intermediate strains, exhibiting posaconazole/clotrimazole resistance and increased fluconazole/voriconazole MIC levels, were found to display alternative ways to resist azole drugs. Particularly, posaconazole/clotrimazole resistance after 31 days was correlated with increased expression of adhesin genes. This finding led us to identify the Epa3 adhesin as a new determinant of azole resistance. Besides being required for biofilm formation, Epa3 expression was found to decrease the intracellular accumulation of azole antifungal drugs. Altogether, this work provides a glimpse of the transcriptomics evolution of a C. glabrata population toward multiazole resistance, highlighting the multifactorial nature of the acquisition of azole resistance and pointing out a new player in azole resistance.
- Azole drug resistance
- Candida glabrata