Special Issue "Antifungal Peptides 2020"

A special issue of Journal of Fungi (ISSN 2309-608X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Gill Diamond
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Diseases, University of Louisville School of Dentistry, Louisville KY 40292, USA
Interests: host fungus interactions; antimicrobial peptides; antifungal peptides; defensins; cathelicidins

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Host defense peptides (also called antimicrobial peptides) are ubiquitous in nature, found in all species examined to date. As broad-spectrum antibiotics, they are under intense study to be developed as new antimicrobial agents. Further, their roles in innate host defense are also being studied with an eye toward regulating their expression in order to enhance immunity to infection. In this Issue, we wish to focus on the antifungal activity of these peptides. Of particular interest are studies and reviews on antifungal activities of naturally occurring peptides; synthetic analogues and mimetics of these peptides; regulation of the genes that encode antifungal peptides; their mechanisms of action; and studies on resistance. Studies on emerging fungal pathogens such as Candida auris and on fungal biofilms are especially welcome.

Prof. Dr. Gill Diamond
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journal of Fungi is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • defensins
  • cathelicidins
  • histatins
  • peptidomimetics
  • cryptides

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
A Novel Immunocompetent Mouse Model for Testing Antifungal Drugs Against Invasive Candida albicans Infection
J. Fungi 2020, 6(4), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof6040197 - 30 Sep 2020
Abstract
Disseminated infection by Candida species represents a common, often life-threatening condition. Increased resistance to current antifungal drugs has led to an urgent need to develop new antifungal drugs to treat this pathogen. However, in vivo screening of candidate antifungal compounds requires large numbers [...] Read more.
Disseminated infection by Candida species represents a common, often life-threatening condition. Increased resistance to current antifungal drugs has led to an urgent need to develop new antifungal drugs to treat this pathogen. However, in vivo screening of candidate antifungal compounds requires large numbers of animals and using immunosuppressive agents to allow for fungal dissemination. To increase the efficiency of screening, to use fewer mice, and to remove the need for immunosuppressive agents, which may interfere with the drug candidates, we tested the potential for a novel approach using in vivo imaging of a fluorescent strain of Candida albicans, in a mouse strain deficient in the host defense peptide, murine β-defensin 1 (mBD-1). We developed a strain of C. albicans that expresses red fluorescent protein (RFP), which exhibits similar infectivity to the non-fluorescent parent strain. When this strain was injected into immunocompetent mBD-1-deficient mice, we observed a non-lethal disseminated infection. Further, we could quantify its dissemination in real time, and observe the activity of an antifungal peptide mimetic drug by in vivo imaging. This novel method will allow for the rapid in vivo screening of antifungal drugs, using fewer mice, and increase the efficiency of testing new antifungal agents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antifungal Peptides 2020)
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Open AccessArticle
Designed Antimicrobial Peptides Against Trauma-Related Cutaneous Invasive Fungal Wound Infections
J. Fungi 2020, 6(3), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof6030184 - 22 Sep 2020
Abstract
Cutaneous invasive fungal wound infections after life-threatening dismounted complex blast injury (DCBI) and natural disasters complicate clinical care. These wounds often require aggressive repeated surgical debridement, can result in amputations and hemipelvectomies and have a 38% mortality rate. Given the substantial morbidity associated [...] Read more.
Cutaneous invasive fungal wound infections after life-threatening dismounted complex blast injury (DCBI) and natural disasters complicate clinical care. These wounds often require aggressive repeated surgical debridement, can result in amputations and hemipelvectomies and have a 38% mortality rate. Given the substantial morbidity associated with cutaneous fungal wound infections, patients at risk need immediate empiric treatment mandating the use of rapidly acting broad-spectrum antimicrobials, acting on both fungi and bacteria, that are also effective against biofilm and can be administered topically. Designed antimicrobial peptides (dAMPs) are engineered analogues of innate antimicrobial peptides which provide the first line of defense against invading pathogens. The antifungal and antibacterial effect and mammalian cytotoxicity of seven innovative dAMPs, created by iterative structural analog revisions and physicochemical and functional testing were investigated. The dAMPs possess broad-spectrum antifungal activity, in addition to being effective against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, which is crucial as many wounds are polymicrobial and require immediate empiric treatment. Three of the most potent dAMPs—RP504, RP556 and RP557—possess limited mammalian cytotoxicity following 8 h incubation. If these encouraging broad-spectrum antimicrobial and rapid acting results are translated clinically, these novel dAMPs may become a first line empiric topical treatment for traumatic wound injuries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antifungal Peptides 2020)
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Open AccessArticle
Histidine-Rich Defensins from the Solanaceae and Brasicaceae Are Antifungal and Metal Binding Proteins
J. Fungi 2020, 6(3), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof6030145 - 24 Aug 2020
Abstract
Plant defensins are best known for their antifungal activity and contribution to the plant immune system. The defining feature of plant defensins is their three-dimensional structure known as the cysteine stabilized alpha-beta motif. This protein fold is remarkably tolerant to sequence variation with [...] Read more.
Plant defensins are best known for their antifungal activity and contribution to the plant immune system. The defining feature of plant defensins is their three-dimensional structure known as the cysteine stabilized alpha-beta motif. This protein fold is remarkably tolerant to sequence variation with only the eight cysteines that contribute to the stabilizing disulfide bonds absolutely conserved across the family. Mature defensins are typically 46–50 amino acids in length and are enriched in lysine and/or arginine residues. Examination of a database of approximately 1200 defensin sequences revealed a subset of defensin sequences that were extended in length and were enriched in histidine residues leading to their classification as histidine-rich defensins (HRDs). Using these initial HRD sequences as a query, a search of the available sequence databases identified over 750 HRDs in solanaceous plants and 20 in brassicas. Histidine residues are known to contribute to metal binding functions in proteins leading to the hypothesis that HRDs would have metal binding properties. A selection of the HRD sequences were recombinantly expressed and purified and their antifungal and metal binding activity was characterized. Of the four HRDs that were successfully expressed all displayed some level of metal binding and two of four had antifungal activity. Structural characterization of the other HRDs identified a novel pattern of disulfide linkages in one of the HRDs that is predicted to also occur in HRDs with similar cysteine spacing. Metal binding by HRDs represents a specialization of the plant defensin fold outside of antifungal activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antifungal Peptides 2020)
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Open AccessArticle
The Penicillium chrysogenum Q176 Antimicrobial Protein PAFC Effectively Inhibits the Growth of the Opportunistic Human Pathogen Candida albicans
J. Fungi 2020, 6(3), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof6030141 - 19 Aug 2020
Abstract
Small, cysteine-rich and cationic antimicrobial proteins (AMPs) from filamentous ascomycetes promise treatment alternatives to licensed antifungal drugs. In this study, we characterized the Penicillium chrysogenum Q176 antifungal protein C (PAFC), which is phylogenetically distinct to the other two Penicillium antifungal proteins, PAF and [...] Read more.
Small, cysteine-rich and cationic antimicrobial proteins (AMPs) from filamentous ascomycetes promise treatment alternatives to licensed antifungal drugs. In this study, we characterized the Penicillium chrysogenum Q176 antifungal protein C (PAFC), which is phylogenetically distinct to the other two Penicillium antifungal proteins, PAF and PAFB, that are expressed by this biotechnologically important ascomycete. PAFC is secreted into the culture broth and is co-expressed with PAF and PAFB in the exudates of surface cultures. This observation is in line with the suggested role of AMPs in the adaptive response of the host to endogenous and/or environmental stimuli. The in silico structural model predicted five β-strands stabilized by four intramolecular disulfide bonds in PAFC. The functional characterization of recombinant PAFC provided evidence for a promising new molecule in anti-Candida therapy. The thermotolerant PAFC killed planktonic cells and reduced the metabolic activity of sessile cells in pre-established biofilms of two Candidaalbicans strains, one of which was a fluconazole-resistant clinical isolate showing higher PAFC sensitivity than the fluconazole-sensitive strain. Candidacidal activity was linked to severe cell morphology changes, PAFC internalization, induction of intracellular reactive oxygen species and plasma membrane disintegration. The lack of hemolytic activity further corroborates the potential applicability of PAFC in clinical therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antifungal Peptides 2020)
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Open AccessArticle
Zinc Binding by Histatin 5 Promotes Fungicidal Membrane Disruption in C. albicans and C. glabrata
J. Fungi 2020, 6(3), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof6030124 - 31 Jul 2020
Abstract
Histatin 5 (Hst 5) is an antimicrobial peptide produced in human saliva with antifungal activity for opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans. Hst 5 binds to multiple cations including dimerization-inducing zinc (Zn2+), although the function of this capability is incompletely understood. Hst [...] Read more.
Histatin 5 (Hst 5) is an antimicrobial peptide produced in human saliva with antifungal activity for opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans. Hst 5 binds to multiple cations including dimerization-inducing zinc (Zn2+), although the function of this capability is incompletely understood. Hst 5 is taken up by C. albicans and acts on intracellular targets under metal-free conditions; however, Zn2+ is abundant in saliva and may functionally affect Hst 5. We hypothesized that Zn2+ binding would induce membrane-disrupting pores through dimerization. Through the use of Hst 5 and two derivatives, P113 (AA 4-15 of Hst 5) and Hst 5ΔMB (AA 1-3 and 15-19 mutated to Glu), we determined that Zn2+ significantly increases killing activity of Hst 5 and P113 for both C. albicans and Candida glabrata. Cell association assays determined that Zn2+ did not impact initial surface binding by the peptides, but Zn2+ did decrease cell association due to active peptide uptake. ATP efflux assays with Zn2+ suggested rapid membrane permeabilization by Hst 5 and P113 and that Zn2+ affinity correlates to higher membrane disruption ability. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) showed that the higher relative Zn2+ affinity of Hst 5 likely promotes dimerization. Together, these results suggest peptide assembly into fungicidal pore structures in the presence of Zn2+, representing a novel mechanism of action that has exciting potential to expand the list of Hst 5-susceptible pathogens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antifungal Peptides 2020)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Host Defense Peptides as Templates for Antifungal Drug Development
J. Fungi 2020, 6(4), 241; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof6040241 - 23 Oct 2020
Abstract
Current treatment for invasive fungal diseases is limited to three classes of antifungal drugs: azoles, polyenes, and echinocandins. The most recently introduced antifungal class, the echinocandins, was first approved nearly 30 years ago. The limited antifungal drug portfolio is rapidly losing its clinical [...] Read more.
Current treatment for invasive fungal diseases is limited to three classes of antifungal drugs: azoles, polyenes, and echinocandins. The most recently introduced antifungal class, the echinocandins, was first approved nearly 30 years ago. The limited antifungal drug portfolio is rapidly losing its clinical utility due to the inexorable rise in the incidence of invasive fungal infections and the emergence of multidrug resistant (MDR) fungal pathogens. New antifungal therapeutic agents and novel approaches are desperately needed. Here, we detail attempts to exploit the antifungal and immunoregulatory properties of host defense peptides (HDPs) in the design and evaluation of new antifungal therapeutics and discuss historical limitations and recent advances in this quest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antifungal Peptides 2020)
Open AccessReview
Molecular and Biological Properties of Snakins: The Foremost Cysteine-Rich Plant Host Defense Peptides
J. Fungi 2020, 6(4), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof6040220 - 12 Oct 2020
Abstract
Plant host defense peptides (HDPs), also known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), are regarded as one of the most prevalent barriers elaborated by plants to combat various infective agents. Among the multiple classes of HDPs, the Snakin class attracts special concern, as they carry [...] Read more.
Plant host defense peptides (HDPs), also known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), are regarded as one of the most prevalent barriers elaborated by plants to combat various infective agents. Among the multiple classes of HDPs, the Snakin class attracts special concern, as they carry 12 cysteine residues, being the foremost cysteine-rich peptides of the plant HDPs. Also, their cysteines are present at very highly conserved positions and arranged in an extremely similar way among different members. Like other plant HDPs, Snakins have been shown to exhibit strong antifungal and antibacterial activity against a wide range of plant pathogens. Moreover, they display diversified biological activities in many aspects of plant growth and the development process. This review is devoted to present the general characters of the Snakin class of plant HDPs, as well as the individual features of different Snakin family members. Specifically, the sequence properties, spatial structures, distributions, expression patterns and biological activities of Snakins are described. In addition, further detailed classification of the Snakin family members, along with their possible mode of action and potential applications in the field of agronomy and pathology are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antifungal Peptides 2020)
Open AccessReview
Echinocandins as Biotechnological Tools for Treating Candida auris Infections
J. Fungi 2020, 6(3), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof6030185 - 22 Sep 2020
Abstract
Candida auris has been reported in the past few years as an invasive fungal pathogen of high interest. Its recent emergence in healthcare-associated infections triggered the efforts of researchers worldwide, seeking additional alternatives to the use of traditional antifungals such as azoles. Lipopeptides, [...] Read more.
Candida auris has been reported in the past few years as an invasive fungal pathogen of high interest. Its recent emergence in healthcare-associated infections triggered the efforts of researchers worldwide, seeking additional alternatives to the use of traditional antifungals such as azoles. Lipopeptides, specially the echinocandins, have been reported as an effective approach to control pathogenic fungi. However, despite its efficiency against C. auris, some isolates presented echinocandin resistance. Thus, therapies focused on echinocandins’ synergism with other antifungal drugs were widely explored, representing a novel possibility for the treatment of C. auris infections. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antifungal Peptides 2020)
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