Genetic analysis of the orthologous crt and mdr1 genes in Plasmodium malariae from Thailand and Myanmar
Pimpat Y., Saralamba N., Boonyuen U., Pukrittayakamee S., Nosten F., Smithuis F., Day NPJ., Dondorp AM., Imwong M.
Abstract Background Plasmodium malariae is a widely spread but neglected human malaria parasite, which causes chronic infections. Studies on genetic polymorphisms of anti-malarial drug target genes in P. malariae are limited. Previous reports have shown polymorphisms in the P. malariae dihydrofolate reductase gene associated with pyrimethamine resistance and linked to pyrimethamine drug pressure. This study investigated polymorphisms of the P. malariae homologous genes, chloroquine resistant transporter and multidrug resistant 1, associated with chloroquine and mefloquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum. Methods The orthologous P. malariae crt and mdr1 genes were studied in 95 patients with P. malariae infection between 2002 and 2016 from Thailand (N = 51) and Myanmar (N = 44). Gene sequences were analysed using BioEdit, MEGA7, and DnaSP programs. Mutations and gene amplifications were compared with P. falciparum and Plasmodium vivax orthologous genes. Protein topology models derived from the observed pmcrt and pmmdr1 haplotypes were constructed and analysed using Phyre2, SWISS MODEL and Discovery Studio Visualization V 17.2. Results Two non-synonymous mutations were observed in exon 2 (H53P, 40%) and exon 8 (E278D, 44%) of pmcrt. The topology model indicated that H53P and E278D were located outside of the transmembrane domain and were unlikely to affect protein function. Pmmdr1 was more diverse than pmcrt, with 10 non-synonymous and 3 synonymous mutations observed. Non-synonymous mutations were located in the parasite cytoplasmic site, transmembrane 11 and nucleotide binding domains 1 and 2. Polymorphisms conferring amino acid changes in the transmembrane and nucleotide binding domains were predicted to have some effect on PmMDR1 conformation, but were unlikely to affect protein function. All P. malariae parasites in this study contained a single copy of the mdr1 gene. Conclusions The observed polymorphisms in pmcrt and pmmdr1 genes are unlikely to affect protein function and unlikely related to chloroquine drug pressure. Similarly, the absence of pmmdr1 copy number variation suggests limited mefloquine drug pressure on the P. malariae parasite population, despite its long time use in Thailand for the treatment of falciparum malaria.