Several treatment failures have been reported for the treatment of toxoplasmic encephalitis, chorioretinitis, and congenital toxoplasmosis. Recently we found three Toxoplasma gondii strains naturally resistant to sulfadiazine and we developed in vitro two sulfadiazine resistant strains, RH-R(SDZ) and ME-49-R(SDZ), by gradual pressure. In Plasmodium, common mechanisms of drug resistance involve, among others, mutations and/or amplification within genes encoding the therapeutic targets dhps and dhfr and/or the ABC transporter genes family. To identify genotypic and/or phenotypic markers of resistance in T. gondii, we sequenced and analyzed the expression levels of therapeutic targets dhps and dhfr, three ABC genes, two Pgp, TgABC.B1 and TgABC.B2, and one MRP, TgABC.C1, on sensitive strains compared to sulfadiazine resistant strains. Neither polymorphism nor overexpression was identified. Contrary to Plasmodium, in which mutations and/or overexpression within gene targets and ABC transporters are involved in antimalarial resistance, T. gondii sulfadiazine resistance is not related to these toxoplasmic genes studied.
ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters represent an important family of membrane proteins involved in drug resistance and other biological activities. The present study reports on the characterization of a P-glycoprotein (Pgp), TgABC.B1, in the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The protein encoded by the TgABC.B1 gene displays the typical (TMD-NBD)2 structural organization of the "full" ABC transporter and shows significant identity and similarity with two apicomplexan Pgps; Pgh1 in Plasmodium falciparum and CpABC3 in Cryptosporidium parvum. The TgABC.B1 gene is a single copy gene transcribed into a full-length mRNA of 4.3kb and expressed as a protein of approximately 150kDa, which cellular localization revealed a membrane-associated labelling in tachyzoites. The TgABC.B1 gene is constitutively expressed in the three major T. gondii genotypes but demonstrated a higher expression in virulent type I, at both transcriptional and translational levels. Further characterization of this Pgp-like protein will increase our knowledge of the membrane transport system in this parasite and could result in the identification of a new therapeutic target in Toxoplasma.
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