Genetic and molecular basis of drug resistance and species-specific drug action in schistosome parasites

Science
Claudia L L ValentimTimothy J C Anderson

Abstract

Oxamniquine resistance evolved in the human blood fluke (Schistosoma mansoni) in Brazil in the 1970s. We crossed parental parasites differing ~500-fold in drug response, determined drug sensitivity and marker segregation in clonally derived second-generation progeny, and identified a single quantitative trait locus (logarithm of odds = 31) on chromosome 6. A sulfotransferase was identified as the causative gene by using RNA interference knockdown and biochemical complementation assays, and we subsequently demonstrated independent origins of loss-of-function mutations in field-derived and laboratory-selected resistant parasites. These results demonstrate the utility of linkage mapping in a human helminth parasite, while crystallographic analyses of protein-drug interactions illuminate the mode of drug action and provide a framework for rational design of oxamniquine derivatives that kill both S. mansoni and S. haematobium, the two species responsible for >99% of schistosomiasis cases worldwide.

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