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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2010 Mar;65(3):496-507. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkp468. Epub 2010 Jan 12.

Assessing aquaglyceroporin gene status and expression profile in antimony-susceptible and -resistant clinical isolates of Leishmania donovani from India.

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School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 110067, India.



Clinical resistance to pentavalent antimonials results from an interplay between uptake, efflux and sequestration in Leishmania. Aquaglyceroporins (AQPs) have been shown to facilitate uptake of trivalent metalloids. Down-regulation of AQP1 in Leishmania results in resistance to trivalent antimony, whereas overexpression of AQP1 in drug-resistant parasites can reverse the resistance. The present work investigates the role of AQP1 in monitoring antimonial resistance in Indian leishmaniasis.


Susceptibility to trivalent antimony as determined in vitro with intracellular amastigotes from both visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL) patients correlated well with the clinical response. Higher accumulation of trivalent antimony (SbIII) was observed in all susceptible isolates compared with resistant isolates. Reduced accumulation of SbIII correlated, with a few exceptions, with down-regulation of AQP1 RNA as determined by real-time PCR. Cloning and sequencing of the AQP1 gene from both VL and PKDL isolates showed sequence variation in four of the clinical isolates. None of the isolates had an alteration of Glu152 and Arg230, which have been previously shown to affect metalloid transport. Transfection of the AQP1 gene in a sodium antimony gluconate-resistant field isolate conferred susceptibility to the resistant isolate.


Our studies indicate genetic variation in VL and PKDL isolates. Down-regulation of AQP1 correlates well with clinical drug resistance in a majority of Indian VL and PKDL isolates. AQP1 gene expression at both the genetic and transcriptional level showed positive correlation with SbIII accumulation, with some exceptions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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