Echinocandins, the lipopeptide class of glucan synthase inhibitors, are an alternative to ergosterol-synthesis inhibitors to treat candidiasis and aspergillosis. Their oral absorption, however, is low and they can only be used parenterally. During a natural product screening program for novel types of glucan synthesis inhibitors with improved bioavailability, a fungal extract was found that inhibited the growth of both a wild-type Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain and the null mutant of the FKS1 gene (fks1::HIS). The mutant strain was more sensitive to growth inhibition, suggesting that the fungal extract could contain an inhibitor of glucan synthesis. A novel acidic steroid, named arundifungin, was purified froma fungal extract obtained from a liquid culture of Arthrinium arundinis collected in Costa Rica. Arundifungin caused the same pattern of hallmark morphological alterations in Aspergillus fumigatus hyphae as echinocandins, further supporting the idea that arundifungin belongs to a new class of glucan synthesis inhibitors. Moreover, its antifungal spectrum was comparable to those of echinocandins and papulacandins, preferentially inhibiting the growth of Candida and Aspergillus strains, with very poor activity against Cryptococcus. Arundifungin was also detected in nine other fungal isolates which were ecologically and taxonomically unrelated, as assessed by sequencing of the ITS1 region. Further, it was also found in two more Arthrinium spp from tropical and temperate regions, in five psychrotolerant conspecific isolates collected on Macquarie Island (South Pacific) and belonging to the Leotiales, and in two endophytes collected in central Spain (a sterile fungus belonging to the Leotiales and an undetermined coelomycete).
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