Fungal infections are a global threat, but treatments are limited due to a paucity in antifungal drug targets and the emergence of drug-resistant fungi such as Candida auris. Metabolic adaptations enable microbial growth in nutrient-scarce host niches, and they further control immune responses to pathogens, thereby offering opportunities for therapeutic targeting. Because it is a relatively new pathogen, little is known about the metabolic requirements for C. auris growth and its adaptations to counter host defenses. Here, we establish that triggering metabolic dysfunction is a promising strategy against C. auris. Treatment with pyrvinium pamoate (PP) induced metabolic reprogramming and mitochondrial dysfunction evident in disrupted mitochondrial morphology and reduced tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle enzyme activity. PP also induced changes consistent with disrupted iron homeostasis. Nutrient supplementation experiments support the proposition that PP-induced metabolic dysfunction is driven by disrupted iron homeostasis, which compromises carbon and lipid metabolism and mitochondria. PP inhibited C. auris replication in macrophages, which is a relevant host niche for this yeast pathogen. We propose that PP causes a multipronged metabolic hit to C. auris: it restricts the micronutrient iron to potentiate nutritional immunity imposed by immune cells, and it further causes metabolic dysfunction that compromises the utilization of macronutrients, thereby curbing the metabolic plasticity needed for growth in host environments. Our study offers a new avenue for therapeutic development against drug-resistant C. auris, shows how complex metabolic dysfunction can be caused by a single compound triggering antifungal inhibition, and provides insights into the metabolic needs of C. auris in immune cell environments. IMPORTANCE Over the last decade, Candida auris has emerged as a human pathogen around the world causing life-threatening infections with wide-spread antifungal drug resistance, including pandrug resistance in some cases. In this study, we addressed the mechanism of action of the antiparasitic drug pyrvinium pamoate against C. auris and show how metabolism could be inhibited to curb C. auris proliferation. We show that pyrvinium pamoate triggers sweeping metabolic and mitochondrial changes and disrupts iron homeostasis. PP-induced metabolic dysfunction compromises the utilization of both micro- and macronutrients by C. auris and reduces its growth in vitro and in immune phagocytes. Our findings provide insights into the metabolic requirements for C. auris growth and define the mechanisms of action of pyrvinium pamoate against C. auris, demonstrating how this compound works by inhibiting the metabolic flexibility of the pathogen. As such, our study characterizes credible avenues for new antifungal approaches against C. auris.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0010022
Number of pages19
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • antifungal agents
  • Candida auris
  • fungal pathogens
  • iron
  • metabolism
  • mitochondrial metabolism

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