Punicalagin triggers ergosterol biosynthesis disruption and cell cycle arrest in Cryptococcus gattii and Candida albicans : Action mechanisms of punicalagin against yeasts.
Braz J Microbiol. 2020 Aug 27. Epub 2020 Aug 27. PMID: 32856241
Thaísa Cristina Silva
Punicalagin is a phenolic compound extracted from Lafoensia pacari A. St.-Hil (Lythraceae) leaves. It has demonstrated interesting activity against pathogenic fungi, e.g., Cryptococcus gattii and Candida albicans, by inhibiting fungi growth in a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) at 4 μg/mL. However, the mechanisms behind its antifungal action are not well understood. In this study, certain parameters were investigated, by transmission electron microscopy, ergosterol synthesis inhibition, and flow cytometry analyses, to gain insight into the possible biological targets of punicalagin (4 or 16 μg/mL) against yeast cells. Data showed that, in contrast to untreated cells, punicalagin triggered severe ultrastructural changes in C. gattii and C. albicans, such as disorganization of cytoplasmic content and/or thickened cell walls. In addition, it caused a decrease in yeast plasma membrane ergosterol content in a concentration-dependent manner. However, it was unable to bring about significant fungal cell membrane rupture. On the other hand, punicalagin (16 μg/mL) significantly arrested C. albicans and C. gattii cells at the G0/G1 phase, with a consequent reduction incells at the G2/M phase in both fungi isolates, and thereby prevented progression of the normal yeast cell cycle. However, these alterations showed no involvement of reactive oxygen species overproduction in C. albicans and C. gattii cells, although punicalagin triggered a significant loss of mitochondrial membrane potential in C. albicans. These findings suggest that punicalagin is a promising plant-derived compound for use in developing new antifungal therapies.