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J Mol Biol. 1995 Mar 3;246(4):500-10.

Beta-tubulin genes from the parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus modulate drug resistance in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Parasitology and Tropical Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Resistance to antimitotic chemotherapeutics in pathogenic nematodes, fungi and mammalian cells is closely associated with structural changes in cytoskeletal beta-tubulin. We investigated the possibility of using the well-characterised free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model for studying the mechanism of resistance against benzimidazole (BZ) drugs in the parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus. Functional analysis of a conserved beta-tubulin isotype (tub-1) mutation near GTP-binding domain II, which is linked to BZ resistance, was carried out in C. elegans by heterologous expression of: (1) parasite BZ-sensitive alleles; (2) BZ-resistant alleles; and (3) in vitro mutagenised beta-tubulin gene constructs. The injected heterologous gene constructs were not only stably maintained, but also expressed as shown by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis. The degree of BZ drug susceptibility of the transformants was assayed and quantified by incubation with both benomyl and thiabendazol. All H. contortus tub-1 constructs, which encoded Phe at position 200, conferred susceptibility to thiabendazole in BZ-resistant C. elegans ben-1 mutants. In contrast, constructs carrying Tyr200 did not alter the BZ drug phenotype. From these experiments we conclude that: (1) C. elegans can be used as an expression host, since injected parasite genes were biologically active; and (2) the single Phe to Tyr mutation at position 200 in beta-tubulin isotype 1 is the cause of BZ resistance in H. contortus.

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