Targeted amplicon deep sequencing of ama1 and mdr1 to track within-host P. falciparum diversity throughout treatment in a clinical drug trial
Wamae K., Ndwiga L., Kharabora O., Kimenyi K., Osoti V., de Laurent Z., Wambua J., Musyoki J., Ngetsa C., Kalume P., Mwambingu G., Hamaluba M., van der Pluijm R., Dondorp AM., Bailey J., Juliano J., Bejon P., Ochola-Oyier L.
Introduction: Antimalarial therapeutic efficacy studies are routinely conducted in malaria-endemic countries to assess the effectiveness of antimalarial treatment strategies. Targeted amplicon sequencing (AmpSeq) uniquely identifies and quantifies genetically distinct parasites within an infection. In this study, AmpSeq of Plasmodium falciparum apical membrane antigen 1 (ama1), and multidrug resistance gene 1 (mdr1), were used to characterise the complexity of infection (COI) and drug-resistance genotypes, respectively. Methods: P. falciparum-positive samples were obtained from a triple artemisinin combination therapy clinical trial conducted in 30 children under 13 years of age between 2018 and 2019 in Kilifi, Kenya. Nine of the 30 participants presented with recurrent parasitemia from day 26 (624h) onwards. The ama1 and mdr1 genes were amplified and sequenced, while msp1, msp2 and glurp data were obtained from the original clinical study. Results: The COI was comparable between ama1 and msp1, msp2 and glurp; overall, ama1 detected more microhaplotypes. Based on ama1, a stable number of microhaplotypes were detected throughout treatment until day 3. Additionally, a recrudescent infection was identified with an ama1 microhaplotype initially observed at 30h and later in an unscheduled follow-up visit. Using the relative frequencies of ama1 microhaplotypes and parasitemia, we identified a fast (<1h) and slow (>5h) clearing microhaplotype. As expected, only two mdr1 microhaplotypes (NF and NY) were identified based on the combination of amino acid polymorphisms at codons 86 and 184. Conclusions: This study highlights AmpSeq as a tool for highly-resolution tracking of parasite microhaplotypes throughout treatment and can detect variation in microhaplotype clearance estimates. AmpSeq can also identify slow-clearing microhaplotypes, a potential early sign of selection during treatment. Consequently, AmpSeq has the capability of improving the discriminatory power to distinguish recrudescences from reinfections accurately.