Molecular epidemiology of malaria in Yaounde, Cameroon V. analysis of the omega repetitive region of the plasmodium falciparum CG2 gene and chloroquine resistance.

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  • 1 Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (ORSTOM) and Laboratoire de Recherche sur le Paludisme, Organisation de Coordination pour la lutte contre les Endémies en Afrique Centrale, Yaounde, Cameroon.

A novel Plasmodium falciparum gene, denoted cg2 gene, has been recently discovered, and a distinct genotype, characterized by 12 point mutations and 3 size polymorphisms, has been shown to be associated with chloroquine resistance in laboratory-adapted parasite strains. One of the polymorphic regions, denoted the omega region, consists of 16 tandem repeat units in chloroquine-resistant strains, while the chloroquine-sensitive strains have either < or = 15 or > or = 17 repeat units. In this study, the in vivo and in vitro responses were compared with the number of repeat units in the omega region of the cg2 gene for 75 Cameroonian isolates determined either by DNA sequencing or agarose gel electrophoresis. The 16-repeat units that characterize the resistant strains were found in 10 chloroquine-sensitive isolates (50% inhibitory concentration [IC50] < 100 nM) and 30 chloroquine-resistant isolates (IC50 > or = 100 nM). Thirty-five isolates (28 chloroquine-sensitive isolates and 7 chloroquine-resistant isolates) displayed < or = 15 or > or = 17 repeat units. Of the 18 patients responding with treatment failure, 15 were infected with parasites carrying 16 repeat units. Twenty-eight patients (11 with isolates carrying 16 repeat units and 17 with isolates carrying < or = 15 or > or = 17 repeat units) showed an adequate clinical response. The sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value were 81% (83%), 74% (61%), and 75% (58%), respectively compared with in vitro (or in vivo) responses. Neither the level of IC50 nor the key P. falciparum multidrug resistance gene 1 (pfmdr 1) allele at position 86 was associated with the number of omega repeat units. Although in vitro and in vivo resistance to chloroquine was statistically associated with the presence of 16 repeat units in the omega region (P < 0.05), the number of omega repeat units did not adequately discriminate patients infected with chloroquine-resistant parasites from those infected with chloroquine-sensitive parasites. Further studies on the cg2 gene are needed to determine whether cg2 gene is a reliable genetic marker for chloroquine resistance.