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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2008 Nov;52(11):4089-97. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00623-08. Epub 2008 Sep 2.

Hitchhiking and selective sweeps of Plasmodium falciparum sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine resistance alleles in a population from central Africa.

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  • 1Program in Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) resistance in Plasmodium falciparum is encoded by a number of mutations in the dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr) and dihydropteroate synthetase (dhps) genes. Here, we have characterized point mutations in dhfr and dhps and microsatellite loci around dhfr on chromosome 4 and dhps on chromosome 8 as well as neutral markers on chromosomes 2 and 3 in 332 samples from Yaoundé, Cameroon. The triple mutant dhfr haplotype that originated in Southeast Asia is the most predominant in this sample set, but we also find additional independent haplotypes at low frequency and an incipient process of genetic differentiation among alleles of Southeast Asian origin. As reported for other African populations, we find evidence of a selective sweep for resistant dhfr mutants in this Cameroonian population due to drug selection. Although we find evidence for a selective sweep in dhps mutants associated with SP resistance, the dynamics of dhps mutants appear different than those observed for dhfr mutants. Overall, our results yield support for the use of microsatellite markers to track resistant parasites; however, the detection of resistant dhfr alleles in low frequency, the evidence of divergence among dhfr alleles that share a common evolutionary origin, and the distinct dynamics of resistant dhps alleles emphasize the importance of comprehensive, population-based investigations to evaluate the effects of drug selection on parasite populations.

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