The clinically vital antimycotic agent amphotericin B represents the archetypal example of a channel-forming small molecule. The leading model for self-assembly of the amphotericin B channel predicts that the C(41) carboxylate and the C(3′) ammonium ions form intermolecular salt bridges/hydrogen bonds that are critical for stability. We herein report a flexible degradative synthesis pathway that enables the removal of either or both of these groups from amphotericin B. We further demonstrate with extensive NMR experiments that deleting these groups does not alter the conformation of the polyene macrolide skeleton. As predicted by the leading model, amphotericin B derivatives lacking the mycosamine sugar that contains the C(3′) ammonium ion are completely inactive against Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, strikingly-and in strong contradiction with the current model-the amphotericin B derivative lacking the C(41) carboxylate is at least equipotent to the natural product. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that the leading model for the mechanism of action of amphotericin B must be significantly revised-either the C(41) carboxylate is not required for channel formation or channel formation is not required for antifungal activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry