Picture of boy being examining by doctor at a tuberculosis sanatorium

Understanding our future through Open Access research about our past...

Strathprints makes available scholarly Open Access content by researchers in the Centre for the Social History of Health & Healthcare (CSHHH), based within the School of Humanities, and considered Scotland's leading centre for the history of health and medicine.

Research at CSHHH explores the modern world since 1800 in locations as diverse as the UK, Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe. Areas of specialism include contraception and sexuality; family health and medical services; occupational health and medicine; disability; the history of psychiatry; conflict and warfare; and, drugs, pharmaceuticals and intoxicants.

Explore the Open Access research of the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare. Or explore all of Strathclyde's Open Access research...

Image: Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. Wellcome Collection - CC-BY.

A molecular mechanism for eflornithine resistance in African trypanosomes

Vincent, Isabel M and Creek, Darren and Watson, David G and Kamleh, Mohammed A and Woods, Debra J and Wong, Pui Ee and Burchmore, Richard J S and Barrett, Michael P (2010) A molecular mechanism for eflornithine resistance in African trypanosomes. PLOS Pathogens, 6 (11).

[img]
Preview
PDF (VincentCreekWatson-etal-PLoSPathogens2010)
VincentCreekWatson_etal_PLoSPathogens2010.pdf
Final Published Version
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 logo

Download (729kB) | Preview

Abstract

Human African trypanosomiasis, endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, is invariably fatal if untreated. Its causative agent is the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei. Eflornithine is used as a first line treatment for human African trypanosomiasis, but there is a risk that resistance could thwart its use, even when used in combination therapy with nifurtimox. Eflornithine resistant trypanosomes were selected in vitro and subjected to biochemical and genetic analysis. The resistance phenotype was verified in vivo. Here we report the molecular basis of resistance. While the drug's target, ornithine decarboxylase, was unaltered in resistant cells and changes to levels of metabolites in the targeted polyamine pathway were not apparent, the accumulation of eflornithine was shown to be diminished in resistant lines. An amino acid transporter gene, TbAAT6 (Tb927.8.5450), was found to be deleted in two lines independently selected for resistance. Ablating expression of this gene in wildtype cells using RNA interference led to acquisition of resistance while expression of an ectopic copy of the gene introduced into the resistant deletion lines restored sensitivity, confirming the role of TbAAT6 in eflornithine action. Eflornithine resistance is easy to select through loss of a putative amino acid transporter, TbAAT6. The loss of this transporter will be easily identified in the field using a simple PCR test, enabling more appropriate chemotherapy to be administered.