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Microbiol Insights. 2018 Nov 27;11:1178636118808529. doi: 10.1177/1178636118808529. eCollection 2018.

Exploration of the Plasmodium falciparum Resistome and Druggable Genome Reveals New Mechanisms of Drug Resistance and Antimalarial Targets.

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1
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA.
2
Division of Host-Microbe Systems & Therapeutics, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA.

Abstract

Plasmodium parasites, the causative agent of malaria infections, rapidly evolve drug resistance and escape detection by the human immune response via the incredible mutability of its genome. Understanding the genetic mechanisms by which Plasmodium parasites develop antimalarial resistance is essential to understanding why most drugs fail in the clinic and designing the next generation of therapies. A systematic genomic analysis of 262 Plasmodium falciparum clones with stable in vitro resistance to 37 diverse compounds with potent antimalarial activity was undertaken with the main goal of identifying new drug targets. Despite several challenges inherent to this method of in vitro drug resistance generation followed by whole genome sequencing, the study was able to identify a likely drug target or resistance gene for every compound for which resistant parasites could be generated. Known and novel P falciparum resistance mediators were discovered along with several new promising antimalarial drug targets. Surprisingly, gene amplification events contributed to one-third of the drug resistance acquisition events. The study can serve as a model for drug discovery and resistance analyses in other similar microbial pathogens amenable to in vitro culture.

KEYWORDS:

Plasmodium falciparum; antimalarial resistance; drug discovery; whole genome sequencing

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of conflicting interests:The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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