On the mechanism of chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum.
ABSTRACT: Resistance to chloroquine of malaria strains is known to be associated with a parasite protein named PfCRT, the mutated form of which is able to reduce chloroquine accumulation in the digestive vacuole of the pathogen. Whether the protein mediates extrusion of the drug acting as a channel or as a carrier and which is the protonation state of its chloroquine substrate is the subject of a scientific debate. We present here an analytical approach that explores which combination of hypotheses on the mechanism of transport and the protonation state of chloroquine are consistent with available equilibrium experimental data. We show that the available experimental data are not, by themselves, sufficient to conclude whether the protein acts as a channel or as a transporter, which explains the origin of their different interpretation by different authors. Interestingly, though, each of the two models is only consistent with a subset of hypotheses on the protonation state of the transported molecule. The combination of these results with a sequence and structure analysis of PfCRT, which strongly suggests that the molecule is a carrier, indicates that the transported species is either or both the mono and di-protonated forms of chloroquine. We believe that our results, besides shedding light on the mechanism of chloroquine resistance in P. falciparum, have implications for the development of novel therapies against resistant malaria strains and demonstrate the usefulness of an approach combining systems biology strategies with structural bioinformatics and experimental data.
Project description:Chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria results from mutations in PfCRT, a member of a unique family of transporters present in apicomplexan parasites and Dictyostelium discoideum. Mechanisms that have been proposed to explain chloroquine resistance are difficult to evaluate within malaria parasites. Here we report on the targeted expression of wild-type and mutant forms of PfCRT to acidic vesicles in D. discoideum. We show that wild-type PfCRT has minimal effect on the accumulation of chloroquine by D. discoideum, whereas forms of PfCRT carrying a key charge-loss mutation of lysine 76 (e.g. K76T) enable D. discoideum to expel chloroquine. As in P. falciparum, the chloroquine resistance phenotype conferred on transformed D. discoideum can be reversed by the channel-blocking agent verapamil. Although intravesicular pH levels in D. discoideum show small acidic changes with the expression of different forms of PfCRT, these changes would tend to promote intravesicular trapping of chloroquine (a weak base) and do not account for reduced drug accumulation in transformed D. discoideum. Our results instead support outward-directed chloroquine efflux for the mechanism of chloroquine resistance by mutant PfCRT. This mechanism shows structural specificity as D. discoideum transformants that expel chloroquine do not expel piperaquine, a bisquinoline analog of chloroquine used frequently against chloroquine-resistant parasites in Southeast Asia. PfCRT, nevertheless, may have some ability to act on quinine and quinidine. Transformed D. discoideum will be useful for further studies of the chloroquine resistance mechanism and may assist in the development and evaluation of new antimalarial drugs.
Project description:Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine resistance is a major cause of worldwide increases in malaria mortality and morbidity. Recent laboratory and clinical studies have associated chloroquine resistance with point mutations in the gene pfcrt. However, direct proof of a causal relationship has remained elusive and most models have posited a multigenic basis of resistance. Here, we provide conclusive evidence that mutant haplotypes of the pfcrt gene product of Asian, African, or South American origin confer chloroquine resistance with characteristic verapamil reversibility and reduced chloroquine accumulation. pfcrt mutations increased susceptibility to artemisinin and quinine and minimally affected amodiaquine activity; hence, these antimalarials warrant further investigation as agents to control chloroquine-resistant falciparum malaria.
Project description:Nearly one million deaths are attributed to malaria every year. Recent reports of multi-drug treatment failure of falciparum malaria underscore the need to understand the molecular basis of drug resistance. Multiple mutations in the Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter (pfcrt) are involved in chloroquine resistance, but the evolution of complex haplotypes is not yet well understood. Using over 4,500 archival human serum specimens collected from 19 Pacific populations between 1959 and 1979, the period including and just prior to the appearance of chloroquine treatment failure in the Pacific, we PCR-amplified and sequenced a portion of the pfcrt exon 2 from 771 P. falciparum-infected individuals to explore the spatial and temporal variation in falciparum malaria prevalence and the evolution of chloroquine resistance. In the Pacific, the prevalence of P. falciparum varied considerably across ecological zones. On the island of New Guinea, the decreases in prevalence of P. falciparum in coastal, high-transmission areas over time were contrasted by the increase in prevalence during the same period in the highlands, where transmission was intermittent. We found 78 unique pfcrt haplotypes consisting of 34 amino acid substitutions and 28 synonymous mutations. More importantly, two pfcrt mutations (N75D and K76T) implicated in chloroquine resistance were present in parasites from New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) eight years before the first report of treatment failure. Our results also revealed unexpectedly high levels of genetic diversity in pfcrt exon 2 prior to the historical chloroquine resistance selective sweep, particularly in areas where disease burden was relatively low. In the Pacific, parasite genetic isolation, as well as host acquired immune status and genetic resistance to malaria, were important contributors to the evolution of chloroquine resistance in P. falciparum.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Antimalarial drug resistance has been a major contributor to the failure of the battle against malaria in many developing countries. The P. falciparum genes, pfcrt and pfmdr-1, have been implicated in chloroquine resistance. The objective of this study was to determine the presence of mutant alleles of these chloroquine resistance genes among isolates of P. falciparum from children presenting with severe malaria in Ghana. METHODS:Venous blood samples were taken from patients, and plasma chloroquine levels measured. P. falciparum chromosomal DNA was isolated from the blood samples, and subjected to PCR, restriction digestion and sequencing. Resulting data were analysed using the STATA statistical software. RESULTS:Of 140 children recruited into the study, 109 (77.9%) had detectable pre-treatment chloroquine levels. PCR and restriction digestion analysis of the pfcrt gene indicated that 124 (88.6%) had the mutant T76 gene, and that this correlated with higher chloroquine levels. Sequence analysis of these showed consistent genetic sequences for chloroquine resistant and sensitive parasites with respect to Pfcrt codons 72 through 76.The Pfcrt T76 mutation was found in 88.4% of isolates having the Pfmdr-1Y86 mutation. The Pfmdr-1 Y86 mutation was found in 67.6% of isolates having the Pfcrt T76 mutation. CONCLUSION:The study affirms Pfcrt as a better chloroquine resistance marker. Both mutations are independently selected by chloroquine levels and that one mutation (Y86) might modify/increase the effect of the other (T76). This study also depicts the much-overlooked antimalarial drug resistance situation in the area and emphasizes the need for a proper treatment strategy.
Project description:Mutations in the Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter, PfCRT, are the major determinant of chloroquine resistance in this lethal human malaria parasite. Here, we describe P. falciparum lines subjected to selection by amantadine or blasticidin that carry PfCRT mutations (C101F or L272F), causing the development of enlarged food vacuoles. These parasites also have increased sensitivity to chloroquine and some other quinoline antimalarials, but exhibit no or minimal change in sensitivity to artemisinins, when compared with parental strains. A transgenic parasite line expressing the L272F variant of PfCRT confirmed this increased chloroquine sensitivity and enlarged food vacuole phenotype. Furthermore, the introduction of the C101F or L272F mutation into a chloroquine-resistant variant of PfCRT reduced the ability of this protein to transport chloroquine by approximately 93 and 82%, respectively, when expressed in Xenopus oocytes. These data provide, at least in part, a mechanistic explanation for the increased sensitivity of the mutant parasite lines to chloroquine. Taken together, these findings provide new insights into PfCRT function and PfCRT-mediated drug resistance, as well as the food vacuole, which is an important target of many antimalarial drugs.
Project description:The chloroquine resistance transporter of the human malaria parasite <i>Plasmodium falciparum</i>, PfCRT, is an important determinant of resistance to several quinoline and quinoline-like antimalarial drugs. PfCRT also plays an essential role in the physiology of the parasite during development inside erythrocytes. However, the function of this transporter besides its role in drug resistance is still unclear. Using electrophysiological and flux experiments conducted on PfCRT-expressing <i>Xenopus laevis</i> oocytes, we show here that both wild-type PfCRT and a PfCRT variant associated with chloroquine resistance transport both ferrous and ferric iron, albeit with different kinetics. In particular, we found that the ability to transport ferrous iron is reduced by the specific polymorphisms acquired by the PfCRT variant as a result of chloroquine selection. We further show that iron and chloroquine transport via PfCRT is electrogenic. If these findings in the <i>Xenopus</i> model extend to <i>P. falciparum in vivo</i>, our data suggest that PfCRT might play a role in iron homeostasis, which is essential for the parasite's development in erythrocytes.
Project description:Treatment of Plasmodium falciparum is complicated by the emergence and spread of parasite resistance to many of the first-line drugs used to treat malaria. Antimalarial drug resistance has been associated with specific point mutations in several genes, suggesting that these single nucleotide polymorphisms can be useful in tracking the emergence of drug resistance. In India, P. falciparum infection can manifest itself as asymptomatic, mild, or severe malaria, with or without cerebral involvement. We tested whether chloroquine- and antifolate drug-resistant genotypes would be more commonly associated with cases of cerebral malaria than with cases of mild malaria in the province of Jabalpur, India, by genotyping the dhps, dhfr, pfmdr-1, and pfcrt genes using pyrosequencing, direct sequencing, and real-time PCR. Further, we used microsatellites surrounding the genes to determine the origins and spread of the drug-resistant genotypes in this area. Resistance to chloroquine was essentially fixed, with 95% of the isolates harboring the pfcrt K76T mutation. Resistant genotypes of dhfr, dhps, and pfmdr-1 were found in 94%, 17%, and 77% of the isolates, respectively. Drug-resistant genotypes were equally likely to be associated with cerebral malaria as with mild malaria. We found evidence of a selective sweep in pfcrt and, to a lesser degree, in dhfr, indicating high levels of resistance to chloroquine and evolving resistance to pyrimethamine. Microsatellites surrounding pfcrt indicate that the resistant genotypes (SVMNT) were most similar to those found in Papua New Guinea.
Project description:In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), artesunate-amodiaquine is first-line therapy for falciparum malaria; little is known about the prevalence of molecular markers of parasite drug resistance. Across the DRC, we genotyped 166 parasites in Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter (pfcrt) using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing. Of these parasites, 73 (44%) parasites were pure wild-type CVMNK, 55 (31%) parasites were chloroquine-resistant CVIET: , 35 (21.1%) parasites were mixed CVMNK and CVIET: , and 3 parasites were other genotypes. Ninety-two infections (55.4%) harbored the pfcrt K76T: substitution that is highly correlated with chloroquine failure. The amodiaquine-resistant S: VMNT: haplotype was absent. Geographically, pfcrt haplotypes were not clearly clustered. Chloroquine accounted for 19.4% of antimalarial use, and amodiaquine accounted for 15.3% of antimalarial use; there were no associations between drug use and mutant haplotype prevalence. In the DRC, our molecular survey indicates that resistance to chloroquine is substantial but that resistance to amodiaquine is absent. These contrasting findings highlight the need for molecular surveillance of drug resistance to inform malaria control policies.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Mizoram, a northeastern state in India, shares international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh and is considered to be one of the key routes through which drug-resistant parasites of Southeast Asia enter mainland India. Despite its strategic location and importance, malaria epidemiology and molecular status of chloroquine resistance had not been well documented, and since chloroquine (CQ), as the first-line treatment in Plasmodium falciparum infection was discontinued since 2008, it was expected that CQ-sensitive haplotype would be more abundant. METHODS:Malaria epidemiology data for the period 2010 to 2018 was collected from the office of State Vector Disease Control Programme. Plasmodium falciparum-positive blood samples were collected from government district hospitals, community health centres, primary health centres, sub-centres, and diagnostic centres from six malaria-prone districts. The samples were processed and analysed using genes-P. falciparum chloroquine-resistant transporter (pfcrt) and P. falciparum multidrug resistance 1 (pfmdr1) via sequencing of PCR amplicon from 2015 to 2017. RESULTS:Malaria occurred throughout the year and P. falciparum accounted for > 89% of total malaria cases. During 2010-2018, the highest number of malaria incidence was recorded in Lawngtlai (36% of total malaria cases; average API2010-2018 of 34.8) while Champhai remained consistently low (0.4%; average API2010-2018 of 0.04). Males of ≥ 15 years old contributed maximum (35.7%) among gender and age malarial distribution recorded during 2014-2018. Death due to malaria gradually decreased over the years. A higher abundance of mutated pfcrt (58.5% of the total sample analysed) and a lower prevalence of mutated pfmdr1 (48.7%) were observed. All mutations identified for pfcrt belong to the Southeast Asian CVIET haplotype. Only a single point mutation was observed at 86 (N → Y) position in pfmdr1 (48.7%). The key N86Y mutation in pfmdr1 that had been shown to modulate CQR was found in 67.1% of the samples positive for the CVIET haplotype. CONCLUSIONS:This is the first report that details malaria epidemiology and also the molecular status of CQ-resistance in P. falciparum population of the region. The efforts of the State Vector Borne Disease Control Programme have proved to be quite effective in controlling the malaria burden in the state. Despite the discontinuation of CQ for a decade, local P. falciparum is observed with decreased CQ-sensitive haplotype. It is believed that the present findings will form a basis for further studies on genetic diversity in P. falciparum, which could confer better understanding of the complexity of the disease in Southeast Asia.
Project description:The chloroquine resistance transporter PfCRT of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum confers resistance to the former first-line antimalarial drug chloroquine, and it modulates the responsiveness to a wide range of quinoline and quinoline-like compounds. PfCRT is post-translationally modified by phosphorylation, palmitoylation, and, possibly, ubiquitination. However, the impact of these post-translational modifications on P. falciparum biology and, in particular, the drug resistance-conferring activity of PfCRT has remained elusive. Here, we confirm phosphorylation at Ser-33 and Ser-411 of PfCRT of the chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum strain Dd2 and show that kinase inhibitors can sensitize drug responsiveness. Using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to generate genetically engineered PfCRT variants in the parasite, we further show that substituting Ser-33 with alanine reduced chloroquine and quinine resistance by ?50% compared with the parental P. falciparum strain Dd2, whereas the phosphomimetic amino acid aspartic acid could fully and glutamic acid could partially reconstitute the level of chloroquine/quinine resistance. Transport studies conducted in the parasite and in PfCRT-expressing Xenopus laevis oocytes linked phosphomimetic substitution at Ser-33 to increased transport velocity. Our data are consistent with phosphorylation of Ser-33 relieving an autoinhibitory intramolecular interaction within PfCRT, leading to a stimulated drug transport activity. Our findings shed additional light on the function of PfCRT and suggest that chloroquine could be reevaluated as an antimalarial drug by targeting the kinase in P. falciparum that phosphorylates Ser-33 of PfCRT.