Siew Mei Samantha Ng, Jia Mao Yap, Qiu Ying Lau, Fui Mee Ng, Esther Hong Qian Ong, Timothy Barkham, Jeanette Woon Pei Teo, Mohammad Alfatah, Kiat Whye Kong, Shawn Hoon, Prakash Arumugam, Jeffrey Hill, Cheng San Brian Chia, Structure-activity relationship studies of ultra-short peptides with potent activities against fluconazole-resistant Candida albicans, European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Available online 9 March 2018, ISSN 0223-5234, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmech.2018.03.027.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is a genital fungal infection afflicting approximately 75% of women globally and is primarily caused by the yeast Candida albicans. The extensive use of fluconazole, the first-line antifungal drug of choice, has led to the emergence of fluconazole-resistant C. albicans, creating a global clinical concern. This, coupled to the lack of new antifungal drugs entering the market over the past decade, has made it imperative for the introduction of new antifungal drug classes. Peptides with antifungal properties are deemed potential drug candidates due to their rapid membrane-disrupting mechanism of action. By specifically targeting and rapidly disrupting fungal membranes, they reduce the chances of resistance development and treatment duration. In a previous screening campaign involving an antimicrobial peptide library, we identified an octapeptide (IKIKIKIK-NH2) with potent activity against C. albicans. Herein, we report a structure-activity relationship study on this peptide with the aim of designing a more potent peptide for further development. The lead peptide was then tested against a panel of fluconazole-resistant C. albicans, subjected to a fungicidal/static determination assay, a human dermal fibroblast viability assay and a homozygous profiling assay to gain insights into its mechanism of action and potential for further development as a topical antifungal agent.