Date of Award
Master of Science (MSc)
Systemic fungal infections brought about by Cryptococcus species are associated with some of the highest mortality rates of any infectious disease. Alarmingly these pathogens have overtaken tuberculosis as the second greatest killer among Sub-Saharan AIDS patients and are an emerging disease among immunocompetent populations on the Pacific Coast of North America. This clinical threat has been exacerbated by our inability to discover novel compounds that specifically target fungal cellular architecture at the genus level. To confront this challenge, we have made a concerted effort to biologically prospect the vast chemical potential of Actinomycete bacteria isolated from diverse and underexplored niches around the world. A novel phenotypic screen was developed whereby bacterial small molecule producers were co-cultured on agar plates in an intimate setting with evolutionary distant fungal pathogens Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans. Diffusible small molecules released by the organisms created a signaling environment that stimulated profound phenotypic changes both in the Actinomycetes and the pathogens. We were able to discern a unique relationship whereby the growth of C. neoformans was specifically inhibited by Nigerian soil Actinomycete isolate curated as WAC 2288. Further bioactivity guided purification and chemical analysis lead to the identification of ibomycin, a previously undescribed 34 membered macrolactone decorated with seven sugar moieties. A draft genome of WAC 2288 revealed a 140kb gene cluster containing 12 type I PKS modules and downstream capacity to generate rare sugars are responsible for ibomycin biosynthesis. Purification of ibomycin analogs has revealed that the terminal vancosamine on the molecule is dispensable for bioactivity, establishing a chemical antecedent for target identification through affinity chromatography. Throughout these studies the unprecedented anticryptococcal activity of ibomycin is consistently recapitulated. Future work on the molecule may validate ibomycin as an effective antifungal therapy.
O'Brien, Jonathan S., "Discovery and Characterization of Ibomycin: An Anticryptocccal Metabolite Produced by WAC 2288" (2012). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7241.
McMaster University Library
Available for download on Friday, August 09, 2013
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