In this study, we investigated the in vitro antifungal activities, cytotoxicities, and membrane-disruptive actions of amphiphilic tobramycin (TOB) analogues. The antifungal activities were established by determination of MIC values and in time-kill studies. Cytotoxicity was evaluated in mammalian cell lines. The fungal membrane-disruptive action of these analogues was studied by using the membrane-impermeable dye propidium iodide. TOB analogues bearing a linear alkyl chain at their 6″-position in a thioether linkage exhibited chain length-dependent antifungal activities. Analogues with C12 and C14 chains showed promising antifungal activities against tested fungal strains, with MIC values ranging from 1.95 to 62.5 mg/liter and 1.95 to 7.8 mg/liter, respectively. However, C4, C6, and C8 TOB analogues and TOB itself exhibited little to no antifungal activity. Fifty percent inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) for the most potent TOB analogues (C12 and C14) against A549 and Beas 2B cells were 4- to 64-fold and 32- to 64-fold higher, respectively, than their antifungal MIC values against various fungi. Unlike conventional aminoglycoside antibiotics, TOB analogues with alkyl chain lengths of C12 and C14 appear to inhibit fungi by inducing apoptosis and disrupting the fungal membrane as a novel mechanism of action. Amphiphilic TOB analogues showed broad-spectrum antifungal activities with minimal mammalian cell cytotoxicity. This study provides novel lead compounds for the development of antifungal drugs.

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Published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, v. 59, no. 8, p. 4861-4869.

Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

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This work was supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant AI090048 (S.G.-T.) and by startup funds from the College of Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky (S.G.-T.).