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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1999 Nov 30;104(2):185-94.

Mutations in the cytochrome b gene of Plasmodium berghei conferring resistance to atovaquone.

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Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Jakarta, Indonesia.


The molecular lesions which underlie the resistance of the malaria parasites to atovaquone, a coenzyme Q analogue, were investigated. Resistant clones of Plasmodium berghei ANKA strain were isolated following prolonged propagation in mice in the presence of increasing doses of the drug, and their cytochrome b gene sequenced. Three mutations were detected, T-C substitution at nt 431, G-A at nt 399 and G-T at nt 850, resulting in amino acid changes in the putative cytochrome b product at residues 133, 144 and 284. The V284F amino acid change is in the sixth transmembrane helix of the protein and was observed in all resistant clones. An additional M133I or L144S amino acid change within the Qo site at an extramembranous amphipathic helix significantly increases the resistance to atovaquone. Our results (a) provide evidence that the antimalarial activity of atovaquone indeed involves an interaction with the cytochrome b; (b) define atovaquone as an inhibitor of the ubiquinol oxidase activity of the cytochrome bc1 complex; and (c) define amino acid residues in the mammalian cytochrome b which might be critical in determining its relative resistance to atovaquone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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