Our previous publication established a model to predict that the phenyl group of the C-3 side chain of azole antifungal compounds interacts with the phenol group of Tyr118 through the formation of π–π face-to-edge interaction. To verify this prediction, wild type and three site-directed mutants of the Y118 residue of Candida albicans sterol 14α-demethylase P450 (CACYP51) were constructed and heterologously expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae with deletion of the CYP51 gene. With the strains obtained and microsome enzymes separated, cell susceptibility and CACYP51 activity were examined with the 5 novel azole compounds based on the molecular modeling in comparison with fluconazole. After alteration of Y118 with Y118A, Y118F, and Y118T by a single base substitution, the expression levels of CACYP51 protein were not affected. However, these mutations markedly decreased its catalytic activity respectively; the mutation changes also decreased azole susceptibility, indicating the structural importance of the Y118 residue in maintaining CACYP51 activity and in determining azole susceptibility. In addition, our synthetic compounds with the phenyl group side chain attached to C3 produced higher susceptibility against S. cerevisiae with expression of CACYP51 and exhibited more potent inhibitory effects on CACYP51 activity in comparison with fluconazole, suggesting that the phenyl group of C3 side chain substitutes is also important for selective binding to target enzymes.
2007 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan