We previously demonstrated that pentamidine, which has been clinically used against Pneumocystis carinii, inhibits in vitro a group I intron ribozyme from that organism. Another fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, also harbors a group I intron ribozyme (Ca.LSU) in the essential rRNA genes in almost half of the clinical isolates analyzed. To determine whether pentamidine inhibits Ca.LSU in vitro and in cells, phylogenetically closely related intron-containing (4-1) and intronless (62-1) strains were studied. Splicing in vitro of the Ca.LSU group I intron ribozyme was completely inhibited by pentamidine at 200 μM. On rich glucose medium, the intron- containing strain was more sensitive to growth inhibition by pentamidine than was the intronless strain, as measured by disk or broth microdilution assays. On rich glycerol medium, they were equally susceptible to pentamidine. At pentamidine levels selectively inhibiting the intron-containing strain (1 μM) in glucose liquid cultures, inhibition of splicing and rRNA maturation was detected by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR within 1 min with a 10- to 15-fold accumulation of precursor rRNA. No comparable effect was seen in the intronless strain. These results correlate the cellular splicing inhibition of Ca.LSU with the growth inhibition of strain 4-1 harboring Ca.LSU. Broth microdilution assays of 13 Candida strains showed that introncontaining strains were generally more susceptible to pentamidine than the intronless strains. Our data suggest that ribozymes found in pathogenic microorganisms but absent in mammals may be targets for antimicrobial therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)