Identification of the Antifungal Metabolite Chaetoglobosin P From Discosia rubi Using a Cryptococcus neoformans Inhibition Assay: Insights Into Mode of Action and Biosynthesis.


Cryptococcus neoformans is an important human pathogen with limited options for treatments. We have interrogated extracts from fungal fermentations to find Cryptococcus-inhibiting natural products using assays for growth inhibition, differential thermosensitivity, and synergy with existing antifungal drugs. Extracts from fermentations of strains of Discosia rubi from eastern Texas showed anticryptococcal bioactivity with preferential activity in agar zone of inhibition assays against C. neoformans at 37°C versus 25°C. Assay-guided fractionation led to the purification and identification of chaetoglobosin P as the active component of these extracts. Genome sequencing of these strains revealed a biosynthetic gene cluster consistent with chaetoglobosin biosynthesis and β-methylation of the tryptophan residue. Proximity of genes of the actin-binding protein twinfilin-1 to the chaetoglobosin P and K gene clusters suggested a possible self-resistance mechanism involving twinfilin-1 which is consistent with the predicted mechanism of action involving interference with the polymerization of the capping process of filamentous actin. A C. neoformans mutant lacking twinfilin-1 was hypersensitive to chaetoglobosin P. Chaetoglobosins also potentiated the effects of amphotericin B and caspofungin on C. neoformans.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Perlatti, Bruno, Connie B Nichols, Nan Lan, Philipp Wiemann, Colin JB Harvey, J Andrew Alspaugh and Gerald F Bills (2020). Identification of the Antifungal Metabolite Chaetoglobosin P From Discosia rubi Using a Cryptococcus neoformans Inhibition Assay: Insights Into Mode of Action and Biosynthesis. Frontiers in microbiology, 11. p. 1766. 10.3389/fmicb.2020.01766 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



James Andrew Alspaugh

Professor of Medicine

The focus of my research is to understand the ways in which microorganisms sense and respond to changes in their environment. As microbial pathogens enter the infected host, dramatic genetic and phenotypic events occur that allow these organisms to survive in this harsh environment. We study the model fungal organism Cryptococcus neoformans to define signal transduction pathways associated with systemic fungal diseases. This pathogenic fungus causes lethal infections of the central nervous system in patients with AIDS and other immunological disorders. In addition to being an important pathogen, C. neoformans displays well-characterized and inducible virulence determinants. It is an outstanding system for dissecting the signaling pathways associated with pathogenicity.

The main techniques used in the lab are those of molecular genetics. We are able to readily mutate C. neoformans genes by homologous recombination. Mutant strains with disruptions in targeted genes are then evaluated in vitro for various phenotypes including altered expression of polysaccharide capsule and melanin. The effects of gene disruption on pathogenicity are also evaluated in animal models of cryptococcal disease. Using these techniques, we have identified a novel G-alpha protein/cAMP-dependent signaling pathway associated with mating and pathogenicity.

This research is complemented by the other investigators in the Duke University Mycology Research Unit. The members of this research community are pursuing studies in fungal pathogenesis, identifying novel antifungal drug targets, and studying the ecology of several medically important fungi.

Keywords: Microbial Pathogenesis
Cryptococcus neoformans
Signal transduction
Fungal mating
G proteins

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.