Genomic analysis of Isometamidium Chloride resistance in Trypanosoma congolense

Eliane Tihon, Hideo Imamura, Frederik Van den Broeck, Lieve Vermeiren, Jean-Claude Dujardin, Jan Van Den Abbeele

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Isometamidium Chloride (ISM) is one of the principal drugs used to counteract Trypanosoma congolense infection in livestock, both as a prophylactic as well as a curative treatment. However, numerous cases of ISM resistance have been reported in different African regions, representing a significant constraint in the battle against Animal African Trypanosomiasis. In order to identify genetic signatures associated with ISM resistance in T. congolense, the sensitive strain MSOROM7 was selected for induction of ISM resistance in a murine host. Administered ISM concentrations in immune-suppressed mice were gradually increased from 0.001 mg/kg to 1 mg/kg, the maximal dose used in livestock. As a result, three independent MSOROM7 lines acquired full resistance to this concentration after five months of induction, and retained this full resistant phenotype following a six months period without drug pressure. In contrast, parasites did not acquire ISM resistance in immune-competent animals, even after more than two years under ISM pressure, suggesting that the development of full ISM resistance is strongly enhanced when the host immune response is compromised. Genomic analyses comparing the ISM resistant lines with the parental sensitive line identified shifts in read depth at heterozygous loci in genes coding for different transporters and transmembrane products, and several of these shifts were also found within natural ISM resistant isolates. These findings suggested that the transport and accumulation of ISM inside the resistant parasites may be modified, which was confirmed by flow cytometry and ex vivo ISM uptake assays that showed a decrease in the accumulation of ISM in the resistant parasites.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)350-361
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Journal Article


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