Altered expression profile of mycobacterial surface glycopeptidolipids following treatment with the antifungal azole inhibitors econazole and clotrimazole

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The azole antifungal drugs econazole and clotrimazole are known cytochrome P450 enzyme inhibitors. This study shows that these drugs are potent inhibitors of mycobacterial growth and are more effective against Mycobacterium smegmatis than isoniazid and ethionamide, two established anti-mycobacterial drugs. Several non-tuberculous mycobacteria, including the pathogenic members of the Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare complex (MAC) and the fast-growing saprophytic organism M. smegmatis, produce an array of serovar-specific (ss) and non-serovar-specific (ns) glycopeptidolipids (GPLs). GPL biosynthesis has been investigated for several years but has still not been fully elucidated, The authors demonstrate here that econazole and clotrimazole inhibit GPL biosynthesis in M. smegmatis, In particular, clotrimazole inhibits all four types of nsGPLs found in M. smegmatis, suggesting an early and common target within their biosynthetic pathway. Altogether, the data suggest that an azole-specific target, most likely a cytochrome P450, may be involved in the hydroxylation of the N-acyl chain in GPL biosynthesis. Azole antifungal drugs and potential derivatives could represent an interesting new range of anti-mycobacterial drugs, especially against opportunistic human pathogens including MAC, M. scrofulaceum, M. peregrinum, M. chelonae and M. abscessus.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2087-2095
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2005