Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2018 12 19;115(49):12513-12518. Epub 2018 Nov 19.
Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892;
Concerns about malaria parasite resistance to treatment with artemisinin drugs (ARTs) have grown with findings of prolonged parasite clearance s (>5 h) and their association with mutations in Kelch-propeller protein K13. Here, we describe a laboratory cross of K13 C580Y mutant with C580 wild-type parasites to investigate ART response phenotypes in vitro and in vivo. After genotyping >400 isolated progeny, we evaluated 20 recombinants in vitro: IC measurements of dihydroartemisinin were at similar low nanomolar levels for C580Y- and C580-type progeny (mean ratio, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.62-1.61), whereas, in a ring-stage survival assay, the C580Y-type progeny had 19.6-fold (95% CI, 9.76-39.2) higher average counts. In splenectomized monkeys treated with three daily doses of i.v. artesunate, calculations by three different methods yielded mean differences of 0.01 h (95% CI, -3.66 to 3.67), 0.80 h (95% CI, -0.92 to 2.53), and 2.07 h (95% CI, 0.77-3.36) between C580Y and C580 infections. Incidences of recrudescence were 57% in C580Y (4 of 7) versus 70% in C580 (7 of 10) infections (-13% difference; 95% CI, -58% to 35%). Allelic substitution of C580 in a C580Y-containing progeny clone (76H10) yielded a transformant (76H10) that, in an infected monkey, recrudesced regularly 13 times over 500 d. Frequent recrudescences of ART-treated infections occur with or without K13 mutations and emphasize the need for improved partner drugs to effectively eliminate the parasites that persist through the ART component of combination therapy.