Genomic and phenotypic characterization of experimentally selected resistant Leishmania donovani reveals a role for dynamin-1 like protein in the mechanism of resistance to a novel anti-leishmanial compound


The implementation of prospective drug resistance (DR) studies in the R&D pipelines is a common practice for many infectious diseases, but not for Neglected Tropical Diseases. Here, we explored and demonstrated the importance of this approach, using as paradigms Leishmania donovani, the etiological agent of Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL), and TCMDC-143345, a promising compound of the GSK ‘Leishbox’ to treat VL. We experimentally selected resistance to TCMDC-143345 in vitro and characterized resistant parasites at genomic and phenotypic levels. We found that it took more time to develop resistance to TCMDC-143345 than to other drugs in clinical use and that there was no cross resistance to these drugs, suggesting a new and unique mechanism. By whole genome sequencing, we found two mutations in the gene encoding the L. donovani dynamin-1-like protein (LdoDLP1) that were fixed at highest drug pressure. Through phylogenetic analysis, we identified LdoDLP1 as a family member of the dynamin-related proteins, a group of proteins that impacts the shapes of biological membranes by mediating fusion and fission events, with a putative role in mitochondrial fission. We found that L. donovani lines genetically engineered to harbor the two identified LdoDLP1 mutations were resistant to TCMDC-143345 and displayed altered mitochondrial properties. By homology modeling, we showed how the two LdoDLP1 mutations may influence protein structure and function. Taken together, our data reveal a clear involvement of LdoDLP1 in the adaptation/resistance of L. donovani to TCMDC-143345.

bioRxiv 425522
James Cotton
James Cotton
Senior Staff Scientist

My research interests are in the genomics, and particularly population genomics of parasites, particularly those that cause neglected tropical diseases