Mutations in Plasmodium falciparum actin-binding protein coronin confer reduced artemisinin susceptibility

Allison R. Demas, Aabha I. Sharma, Wesley Wong, Angela M. Early, Seth Redmond, Selina Bopp, Daniel E. Neafsey, Sarah K. Volkman, Daniel L. Hartl, Dyann F. Wirth

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Drug resistance is an obstacle to global malaria control, as evidenced by the recent emergence and rapid spread of delayed artemisinin (ART) clearance by mutant forms of the PfKelch13 protein in Southeast Asia. Identifying genetic determinants of ART resistance in African-derived parasites is important for surveillance and for understanding the mechanism of resistance. In this study, we carried out long-term in vitro selection of two recently isolated West African parasites (from Pikine and Thiès, Senegal) with increasing concentrations of dihydroartemisinin (DHA), the biologically active form of ART, over a 4-y period. We isolated two parasite clones, one from each original isolate, that exhibited enhanced survival to DHA in the ring-stage survival assay. Whole-genome sequence analysis identified 10 mutations in seven different genes. We chose to focus on the gene encoding PfCoronin, a member of the WD40-propeller domain protein family, because mutations in this gene occurred in both independent selections, and the protein shares the β-propeller motif with PfKelch13 protein. For functional validation, when pfcoronin mutations were introduced into the parental parasites by CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing, these mutations were sufficient to reduce ART susceptibility in the parental lines. The discovery of a second gene for ART resistance may yield insights into the molecular mechanisms of resistance. It also suggests that pfcoronin mutants could emerge as a nonkelch13 type of resistance to ART in natural settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12799-12804
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number50
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Actin
  • Artemisinin resistance
  • Coronin
  • Evolution
  • Malaria

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