The respiratory chain has been proposed as an attractive target for the development of new therapies to tackle human fungal pathogens. This arises from the presence of fungal-specific electron transport chain components and links between respiration and the control of virulence traits in several pathogenic species. However, as the physiological roles of mitochondria remain largely undetermined with respect to pathogenesis its value as a potential new drug target remains to be determined. The use of respiration inhibitors as fungicides is well developed but has been hampered by the emergence of rapid resistance to current inhibitors. In addition, recent data suggests that adaptation of the human fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, to respiration inhibitors can enhance virulence traits such as yeast-to-hypha transition and cell wall organisation. We conclude that although respiration holds promise as a target for the development of new therapies to treat human fungal infections we require a more detailed understanding of the role that mitochondria play in stress adaption and virulence.
This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award for Medical Mycology and Fungal Immunology 097377/Z/11/Z.