Membrane Transport Inhibition as Mode of Action of Polyene Antimycotics: Recent Data Supported by Old Ones

Miroslava Opekarová1 and Widmar Tanner2*

Institute of Microbiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, CZ-14220 Prague, Czech Republic

2Institute of Cell Biology and Plant Physiology, University of Regensburg, DE-93053 Regensburg, Germany

Article history:

Received March 29, 2013

Accepted September 23, 2013

Key words:

amphotericin B, nystatin, natamycin, sugar and amino acid transport


Recent studies demonstrate that the actual interactions of polyenes with membrane
sterols are the basis for their antimycotic toxicity and not, as previously assumed, their potentialb to form pores. Therefore, sterols must play a vital role in membranes and this function is seriously disturbed once polyenes bind to and/or sequester them. Essential membrane proteins obviously require sterols for their activity. Among the various membrane protein/ergosterol interactions discussed herein, transport proteins of the plasma membrane are most likely the primary target for polyenes. All data available which support this notion are summarized in this review. Even data obtained almost 40 years ago could be useful in guiding future research.

*Corresponding author:


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