Decreased emodepside sensitivity in unc-49 γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-receptor-deficient Caenorhabditis elegans.
ABSTRACT Emodepside, a semi-synthetic derivative of PF1022A, belongs to a new class of anthelmintic drugs, the cyclooctadepsipeptides, and shows good efficacy against macrocyclic lactone-, levamisole- or benzimidazole-resistant nematode populations. Although putative receptors for emodepside have already been discovered, its mode of action is still not fully understood. The involvement of the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-receptor on the PF1022A mode of action has previously been postulated. Therefore, a possible role of the GABA-receptor, unc-49, in the mode of action of emodepside was investigated using two different Caenorhabditis elegans in vitro assays, a motility assay and a development assay. It was found that there is a clearly reduced sensitivity against emodepside of strains carrying a GABA-receptor, unc-49, loss of function mutation compared with N2 wild type C. elegans. To transfer these results from the model system to parasitic nematodes, the Toxocara canis unc-49B cDNA sequence was identified and used in a rescue experiment. The emodepside-susceptible phenotype could be fully rescued by injection of the T. canis unc-49B cDNA sequence. We believe that this is the first functional rescue of a C. elegans mutant strain with a gene from a clade III parasitic nematode. These findings, together with the earlier data on GABA-receptor binding of PF1022A, suggest that the GABA(A)-receptor UNC-49 is associated with the emodepside mode of action. However, the only partially resistant phenotype of the loss of function mutants indicates that other pathways play a more significant role.