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Trop Med Int Health. 2007 Sep;12(9):1051-60.

Molecular analysis of chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum in Yunnan Province, China.

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Parasitology Department, Kunming Medical College, Kunming, Yunnan, China.


Resistance of Plasmodium falciparum to chloroquine (CQ) is determined by the mutation at K76T of the P. falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter (pfcrt) gene and modified by other mutations in this gene and in the P. falciparum multidrug resistance 1 (pfmdr1) gene. To determine the extent of polymorphisms in these genes in field P. falciparum isolates from Yunnan province of China, we genotyped the pfcrt codon 76, pfmdr1 codons 86 and 1246. Our results showed that although CQ has been withdrawn from treating falciparum malaria for over two decades, 90.3% of the parasites still carried the pfcrt K76T mutation. In contrast, mutations at pfmdr1 codons 86 and 1246 were rare. Sequencing analysis of the pfcrt gene in 34 parasite field isolates revealed CVIET at positions 72-76 as the major type, consistent with the theory of Southeast Asian origin of CQ resistance in the parasite. In addition, two novel pfcrt haplotypes (75D/144Y/220A and 75E/144Y/220A) were identified. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to determine pfmdr1 gene amplification, which is associated with mefloquine resistance. Our result indicated that in agreement with that mefloquine has not been used in this area, most (>90%) of the parasites had one pfmdr1 copy. Genotyping at two hypervariable loci showed relatively low levels of genetic diversity of the parasite population. Meanwhile, 28.4% of cases were found to contain mixed clones, which favour genetic recombination. Furthermore, despite a unique history of antimalarial drugs in Yunnan, its geographical connections with three malarious countries facilitate gene flow among parasite populations and evolution of novel drug-resistant genotypes. Therefore, continuous surveillance of drug resistance in this area is necessary for timely adjustment of local drug policies and more effective malaria control.

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