Inositol phosphorylceramide (IPC) synthase is a common and essential enzyme in fungi and plants, which catalyzes the transfer of phosphoinositol to the C-1 hydroxy of ceramide to produce IPC. This reaction is a key step in fungal sphingolipid biosynthesis, therefore the enzyme is a potential target for the development of nontoxic therapeutic antifungal agents. Natural products with a desired biological activity, aureobasidin A (AbA), khafrefungin, and galbonolide A, have been reported. AbA, a cyclic depsipeptide containing 8 amino acids and a hydroxyl acid, is a broad spectrum antifungal with strong activity against many pathogenic fungi such as Candida spp., Cryptococcus neoformans, and some Aspergillus spp. Khafrefungin, an aldonic acid ester with a C22 long alkyl chain, has antifungal activity against C. albicans, Cr. Neoformans, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Galbonolide A is a 14-membered macrolide with fungicidal activity against clinically important strains, and is especially potent against Cr. neoformans. These classes of natural products are potent and specific antifungal agents. We review current progress in the development of IPC synthase inhibitors with antifungal activities, and present structure-activity relationships (SAR), physicochemical and structural properties, and synthetic methodology for chemical modification.
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