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Chromosome copies confer resistance

Extra copies of key chromosomal segments make Candida fungi drug resistant, could provide cancer clues

Melissa Lee Phillips
Abnormal chromosomes may underlie fungal resistance to antimicrobials, according to a report in this week's Science. The researchers found that strains of drug-resistant Candida albicans commonly have extra copies of a chromosomal region containing genes that boost resistance.Understanding the formation of these extra chromosomal copies, known as isochromosomes, has implications outside of fungal drug resistance, said senior author Judith Berman of the University of Minnesota. "Isochromosomes form a lot in cancer cells and in other diseases in humans," she told The Scientist. "We think that Candida might be a really nice model for studying some of these rearrangements."C. albicans infections, which are especially problematic in immune-compromised people, are often treated with antifungal drugs called azoles. Fungi become resistant to azoles after long-term exposure to the drugs. Previous work has shown that resistance is sometimes associated with C. albicans mutations that affect drug targets, or increase the...

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