Ergosterol promotes aggregation of natamycin in the yeast plasma membrane

Maria Szomek, Vibeke Akkerman, Line Lauritsen, Hanna Loisa Walther, Alice Dupont Juhl, Katja Thaysen, Jacob Marcus Egebjerg, Douglas F. Covey, Max Lehmann, Pablo Wessig, Alexander J. Foster, Bert Poolman, Stephan Werner, Gerd Schneider, Peter Müller, Daniel Wüstner*


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Polyene macrolides are antifungal substances, which interact with cells in a sterol-dependent manner. While being widely used, their mode of action is poorly understood. Here, we employ ultraviolet-sensitive (UV) microscopy to show that the antifungal polyene natamycin binds to the yeast plasma membrane (PM) and causes permeation of propidium iodide into cells. Right before membrane permeability became compromised, we observed clustering of natamycin in the PM that was independent of PM protein domains. Aggregation of natamycin was paralleled by cell deformation and membrane blebbing as revealed by soft X-ray microscopy. Substituting ergosterol for cholesterol decreased natamycin binding and caused a reduced clustering of natamycin in the PM. Blocking of ergosterol synthesis necessitates sterol import via the ABC transporters Aus1/Pdr11 to ensure natamycin binding. Quantitative imaging of dehydroergosterol (DHE) and cholestatrienol (CTL), two analogues of ergosterol and cholesterol, respectively, revealed a largely homogeneous lateral sterol distribution in the PM, ruling out that natamycin binds to pre-assembled sterol domains. Depletion of sphingolipids using myriocin increased natamycin binding to yeast cells, likely by increasing the ergosterol fraction in the outer PM leaflet. Importantly, binding and membrane aggregation of natamycin was paralleled by a decrease of the dipole potential in the PM, and this effect was enhanced in the presence of myriocin. We conclude that ergosterol promotes binding and aggregation of natamycin in the yeast PM, which can be synergistically enhanced by inhibitors of sphingolipid synthesis.

TidsskriftBBA Biomembranes
Udgave nummer7
Antal sider20
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2024


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