The Ca-loop in thymidylate kinase is critical for growth and contributes to pyrimidine drug sensitivity of Candida albicans.


From the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, National Yang-Ming University, Linong Street, Taipei 11221, [Email]


The yeast Candida albicans is the most prevalent opportunistic fungal pathogen in humans. Drug resistance among C. albicans isolates poses a common challenge, and overcoming this resistance represents an unmet need in managing this common pathogen. Here, we investigated CDC8, encoding thymidylate kinase (TMPK), as a potential drug target for the management of C. albicans infections. We found that the region spanning amino acids 106-123, namely the Ca-loop of C. albicans TMPK (CaTMPK), contributes to the hyperactivity of this enzyme compared with the human enzyme (hTMPK) and to the utilization of deoxyuridine monophosphate (dUMP)/deoxy-5-fluorouridine monophosphate (5-FdUMP) as a substrate. Notably, expression of CaTMPK, but not of hTMPK, produced dUTP/5-FdUTP-mediated DNA toxicity in budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). CRISPR-mediated deletion of this Ca-loop in C. albicans revealed that the Ca-loop is critical for fungal growth and susceptibility to 5-fluorouridine (5-FUrd). Of note, pathogenic and drug-resistant C. albicans clones were similarly sensitive to 5-FUrd, and we also found that CaTMPK is essential for the growth of C. albicans In conclusion, these findings not only identified a target site for the development of CaTMPK-selective drugs, but also revealed that 5-FUrd may have potential utility as drug for managing C. albicans infections.


Candida albicans,DNA damage,drug resistance,nucleoside/nucleotide analogue,substrate specificity,thymidylate kinase,