Malaria parasites can develop stable resistance to artemisinin but lack mutations in candidate genes atp6 (encoding the sarcoplasmic and endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase), tctp, mdr1, and cg10.
ABSTRACT: Resistance of Plasmodium falciparum to drugs such as chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine is a major problem in malaria control. Artemisinin (ART) derivatives, particularly in combination with other drugs, are thus increasingly used to treat malaria, reducing the probability that parasites resistant to the components will emerge. Although stable resistance to artemisinin has yet to be reported from laboratory or field studies, its emergence would be disastrous because of the lack of alternative treatments. Here, we report for the first time, to our knowledge, genetically stable and transmissible ART and artesunate (ATN)-resistant malaria parasites. Each of two lines of the rodent malaria parasite Plosmodium chabaudi chabaudi, grown in the presence of increasing concentrations of ART or ATN, showed 15-fold and 6-fold increased resistance to ART and ATN, respectively. Resistance remained stable after cloning, freeze-thawing, after passage in the absence of drug, and transmission through mosquitoes. The nucleotide sequences of the possible genetic modulators of ART resistance (mdr1, cg10, tctp, and atp6) of sensitive and resistant parasites were compared. No mutations in these genes were identified. In addition we investigated whether changes in the copy number of these genes could account for resistance but found that resistant parasites retained the same number of copies as their sensitive progenitors. We believe that this is the first report of a malaria parasite with genetically stable and transmissible resistance to artemisinin or its derivatives.
Project description:Artemisinin- and artesunate-resistant Plasmodium chabaudi mutants, AS-ART and AS-ATN, were previously selected from chloroquine-resistant clones AS-30CQ and AS-15CQ respectively. Now, a genetic cross between AS-ART and the artemisinin-sensitive clone AJ has been analysed by Linkage Group Selection. A genetic linkage group on chromosome 2 was selected under artemisinin treatment. Within this locus, we identified two different mutations in a gene encoding a deubiquitinating enzyme. A distinct mutation occurred in each of the clones AS-30CQ and AS-ATN, relative to their respective progenitors in the AS lineage. The mutations occurred independently in different clones under drug selection with chloroquine (high concentration) or artesunate. Each mutation maps to a critical residue in a homologous human deubiquitinating protein structure. Although one mutation could theoretically account for the resistance of AS-ATN to artemisinin derivates, the other cannot account solely for the resistance of AS-ART, relative to the responses of its sensitive progenitor AS-30CQ. Two lines of Plasmodium falciparum with decreased susceptibility to artemisinin were also selected. Their drug-response phenotype was not genetically stable. No mutations in the UBP-1 gene encoding the P. falciparum orthologue of the deubiquitinating enzyme were observed. The possible significance of these mutations in parasite responses to chloroquine or artemisinin is discussed.
Project description:Ever increasing multi-drug resistance by Plasmodium falciparum is creating new challenges in malaria chemotherapy. In the absence of licensed vaccines, treatment and prevention of malaria is heavily dependent on drugs. Potency, range of activity, safety, low cost and ease of administration are crucial issues in the design and formulation of antimalarials. We have tested three synthetic ozonides NAC89, LC50 and LCD67 in vitro and in vivo against multidrug resistant Plasmodium. In vitro, LC50 was at least 10 times more efficient inhibiting P. falciparum multidrug resistant Dd2 strain than chloroquine and mefloquine and as efficient as artemisinin (ART), artesunate and dihydroartemisinin. All three ozonides showed high efficacy in clearing parasitaemia in mice, caused by multi-drug resistant Plasmodium chabaudi strains, by subcutaneous administration, demonstrating high efficacy in vivo against ART and artesunate resistant parasites.
Project description:Pharmaceutical monotherapies against human malaria have proven effective, although ephemeral, owing to the inevitable evolution of resistant parasites. Resistance to two or more drugs delivered in combination will evolve more slowly; hence combination therapies have become the preferred norm in the fight against malaria. At the forefront of these efforts has been the promotion of Artemisinin Combination Therapy, but despite these efforts, resistance to artemisinin has begun to emerge. In 2012, we demonstrated the efficacy of the whole plant (WP)--not a tea, not an infusion--as a malaria therapy and found it to be more effective than a comparable dose of pure artemisinin in a rodent malaria model. Here we show that WP overcomes existing resistance to pure artemisinin in the rodent malaria Plasmodium yoelii. Moreover, in a long-term artificial selection for resistance in Plasmodium chabaudi, we tested resilience of WP against drug resistance in comparison with pure artemisinin (AN). Stable resistance to WP was achieved three times more slowly than stable resistance to AN. WP treatment proved even more resilient than the double dose of AN. The resilience of WP may be attributable to the evolutionary refinement of the plant's secondary metabolic products into a redundant, multicomponent defense system. Efficacy and resilience of WP treatment against rodent malaria provides compelling reasons to further explore the role of nonpharmaceutical forms of AN to treat human malaria.
Project description:Classical and quantitative linkage analyses of genetic crosses have traditionally been used to map genes of interest, such as those conferring chloroquine or quinine resistance in malaria parasites. Next-generation sequencing technologies now present the possibility of determining genome-wide genetic variation at single base-pair resolution. Here, we combine in vivo experimental evolution, a rapid genetic strategy and whole genome re-sequencing to identify the precise genetic basis of artemisinin resistance in a lineage of the rodent malaria parasite, Plasmodium chabaudi. Such genetic markers will further the investigation of resistance and its control in natural infections of the human malaria, P. falciparum.A lineage of isogenic in vivo drug-selected mutant P. chabaudi parasites was investigated. By measuring the artemisinin responses of these clones, the appearance of an in vivo artemisinin resistance phenotype within the lineage was defined. The underlying genetic locus was mapped to a region of chromosome 2 by Linkage Group Selection in two different genetic crosses. Whole-genome deep coverage short-read re-sequencing (Illumina Solexa) defined the point mutations, insertions, deletions and copy-number variations arising in the lineage. Eight point mutations arise within the mutant lineage, only one of which appears on chromosome 2. This missense mutation arises contemporaneously with artemisinin resistance and maps to a gene encoding a de-ubiquitinating enzyme.This integrated approach facilitates the rapid identification of mutations conferring selectable phenotypes, without prior knowledge of biological and molecular mechanisms. For malaria, this model can identify candidate genes before resistant parasites are commonly observed in natural human malaria populations.
Project description:Artemisinin is a plant sesquiterpene lactone that has become an important drug for combating malaria, especially in regions where resistance to other drugs is widespread. While the mechanism of action is debated, artemisinin has been reported to inhibit the sarcoplasmic endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) ATPase (SERCA) in the malaria parasite. Artemisinin is also effective against Toxoplasma in vitro and in vivo, although it is less potent and, hence, is generally not used therapeutically to treat toxoplasmosis. To explore the mechanism of action, we generated chemically derived mutants of Toxoplasma gondii that were resistant to growth inhibition by this compound in vitro. Three artemisinin-resistant (ART(r)) mutant clones that differed in their sensitivities in vitro by three- to fivefold compared with that of the wild-type parasites were obtained. ART(r) mutants were cross-resistant to other derivatives of artemisinin, the most potent of which was artemisone. Resistance was not due to molecular alterations or differences in the expression of SERCA or other putative targets, such as proteins that code for multidrug resistance or translationally controlled tumor protein. ART(r) mutants were resistant to the induction of protein secretion from micronemes, a calcium-dependent process that is triggered by artemisinin. ART(r) mutants were not cross-resistant to secretion induced by thapsigargin but were more sensitive and were unable to regulate cytoslic calcium following treatment with this compound. These studies implicate calcium homeostasis in the mechanism of action of artemisinins against apicomplexan parasites.
Project description:Artemisinin resistance is a major threat to malaria control efforts. Resistance is characterized by an increase in the Plasmodium falciparum parasite clearance half-life following treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) and an increase in the percentage of surviving parasites. The remarkably short blood half-life of artemisinin derivatives may contribute to drug-resistance, possibly through factors including sub-lethal plasma concentrations and inadequate exposure. Here we selected for a new strain of artemisinin resistant parasites, termed the artemisinin resistant strain 1 (ARS1), by treating P. falciparum Palo Alto (PA) cultures with sub-lethal concentrations of dihydroartemisinin (DHA). The resistance phenotype was maintained for over 1 year through monthly maintenance treatments with low doses of 2.5 nM DHA. There was a moderate increase in the DHA IC50 in ARS1 when compared with parental strain PA after 72 h of drug exposure (from 0.68 nM to 2 nM DHA). In addition, ARS1 survived treatment physiologically relevant DHA concentrations (700 nM) observed in patients. Furthermore, we confirmed a lack of cross-resistance against a panel of antimalarials commonly used as partner drugs in ACTs. Finally, ARS1 did not contain Pfk13 propeller domain mutations associated with ART resistance in the Greater Mekong Region. With a stable growth rate, ARS1 represents a valuable tool for the development of new antimalarial compounds and studies to further elucidate the mechanisms of ART resistance.
Project description:Multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites pose a threat to effective drug control, even to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). Here we used linkage group selection and Solexa whole-genome resequencing to investigate the genetic basis of resistance to component drugs of ACTs. Using the rodent malaria parasite P. chabaudi, we analyzed the uncloned progeny of a genetic backcross between the mefloquine-, lumefantrine-, and artemisinin-resistant mutant AS-15MF and a genetically distinct sensitive clone, AJ, following drug treatment. Genomewide scans of selection showed that parasites surviving each drug treatment bore a duplication of a segment of chromosome 12 (translocated to chromosome 04) present in AS-15MF. Whole-genome resequencing identified the size of the duplicated segment and its position on chromosome 4. The duplicated fragment extends for ?393 kbp and contains over 100 genes, including mdr1, encoding the multidrug resistance P-glycoprotein homologue 1. We therefore show that resistance to chemically distinct components of ACTs is mediated by the same genetic mutation, highlighting a possible limitation of these therapies.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Routine molecular surveillance for imported drug-resistant malaria parasites to the USA and European Union is an important public health activity. The obtained molecular data are used to help keep chemoprophylaxis and treatment guidelines up to date for persons traveling to malaria endemic countries. Recent advances in next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies provide a new and effective way of tracking malaria drug-resistant parasites. METHODS:As part of a technology transfer arrangement between the CDC Malaria Branch and the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), Rome, Italy, the recently described Malaria Resistance Surveillance (MaRS) protocol was used to genotype 148 Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Eritrea for kelch 13 (k13) and cytochrome b (cytb) genes, molecular markers associated with resistance to artemisinin (ART) and atovaquone/proguanil (AP), respectively. RESULTS:Spanning the full-length k13 gene, seven non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found (K189N, K189T, E208K, D281V, E401Q, R622I and T535M), of which none have been associated with artemisinin resistance. No mutations were found in cytochrome b. CONCLUSION:All patients successfully genotyped carried parasites susceptible to ART and AP treatment. Future studies between CDC Malaria Branch and ISS are planned to expand the MaRS system, including data sharing, in an effort to maintain up to date treatment guidelines for travelers to malaria endemic countries.
Project description:The evolution of drug resistance, a key challenge for our ability to treat and control infections, depends on two processes: de-novo resistance mutations, and the selection for and spread of resistant mutants within a population. Understanding the factors influencing the rates of these two processes is essential for maximizing the useful lifespan of drugs and, therefore, effective disease control. For malaria parasites, artemisinin-based drugs are the frontline weapons in the fight against disease, but reports from the field of slower parasite clearance rates during drug treatment are generating concern that the useful lifespan of these drugs may be limited. Whether slower clearance rates represent true resistance, and how this provides a selective advantage for parasites is uncertain. Here, we show that Plasmodium chabaudi malaria parasites selected for resistance to artesunate (an artemisinin derivative) through a step-wise increase in drug dose evolved slower clearance rates extremely rapidly. In single infections, these slower clearance rates, similar to those seen in the field, provided fitness advantages to the parasite through increased overall density, recrudescence after treatment and increased transmission potential. In mixed infections, removal of susceptible parasites by drug treatment led to substantial increases in the densities and transmission potential of resistant parasites (competitive release). Our results demonstrate the double-edged sword for resistance management: in our initial selection experiments, no parasites survived aggressive chemotherapy, but after selection, the fitness advantage for resistant parasites was greatest at high drug doses. Aggressive treatment of mixed infections resulted in resistant parasites dominating the pool of gametocytes, without providing additional health benefits to hosts. Slower clearance rates can evolve rapidly and can provide a strong fitness advantage during drug treatment in both single and mixed strain infections.
Project description:Artemisinin is the most rapidly effective drug for Plasmodium falciparum malaria treatment currently in clinical use. Emerging artemisinin-resistant parasites pose a great global health risk. At present, the level of artemisinin resistance is still relatively low with evidence pointing towards a trade-off between artemisinin resistance and fitness loss. Here we show that artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum isolates from Cambodia manifested fitness loss, showing fewer progenies during the intra-erythrocytic developmental cycle. The loss in fitness was exacerbated under the condition of low exogenous amino acid supply. The resistant parasites failed to undergo maturation, whereas their drug-sensitive counterparts were able to complete the erythrocytic cycle under conditions of amino acid deprivation. The artemisinin-resistant phenotype was not stable, and loss of the phenotype was associated with changes in the expression of a putative target, Exp1, a membrane glutathione transferase. Analysis of SNPs in haemoglobin processing genes revealed associations with parasite clearance times, suggesting changes in haemoglobin catabolism may contribute to artemisinin resistance. These findings on fitness and protein homeostasis could provide clues on how to contain emerging artemisinin-resistant parasites.