Chanaki Amaratunga

National Institutes of Health, Maryland, United States

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Publications (20)227.17 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The emergence of artemisinin resistance in Southeast Asia imperils efforts to reduce the global malaria burden. We genetically modified the Plasmodium falciparum K13 locus using zinc-finger nucleases, and measured ring-stage survival rates following drug exposure in vitro; these rates correlate with parasite clearance half-lives in artemisinin-treated patients. With isolates from Cambodia, where resistance first emerged, survival rates decreased from 13-49% to 0.3-2.4% following the removal of K13 mutations. Conversely, survival rates in wild-type parasites increased from ≤0.6% to 2-29% following the insertion of K13 mutations. These mutations conferred elevated resistance to recent Cambodian isolates compared to reference lines, suggesting a contemporary contribution of additional genetic factors. Our data provide a conclusive rationale for worldwide K13-propeller sequencing to identify and eliminate artemisinin-resistant parasites. Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum threatens global efforts to control and eliminate malaria. Polymorphisms in the kelch domain-carrying protein K13 are associated with artemisinin resistance, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are unknown. Here we analyze the in-vivo transcriptomes of 1,043 P. falciparum isolates from patients with acute malaria, and show that artemisinin resistance is associated with increased expression of unfolded protein response (UPR) pathways involving the major PROSC and TRiC chaperone complexes. Artemisinin resistant parasites also exhibit decelerated progression through the first part of the asexual intraerythrocytic development cycle. These findings suggest that artemisinin resistant parasites remain in a state of decelerated development at the young ring stage while their upregulated UPR pathways mitigate protein damage caused by artemisinin. The expression profiles of UPR-related genes also associate with the geographical origin of parasite isolates, further suggesting their role in emerging artemisinin resistance in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: h e ne w e ngl a nd jou r na l o f m e dicine n engl j med 371;5 nejm.org july 31, 2014, for the Tracking Resistance to Artemisinin Collaboration (TRAC) The authors' full names, academic de-grees, and affiliations are listed in the Ap-pendix. Address reprint requests to Dr. White at the Mahidol–Oxford Tropical
    07/2014; 371:411-23.
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    ABSTRACT: Chloroquine (CQ) is used to treat Plasmodium vivax malaria in areas where CQ resistance has not been reported. The use of artemisinin (ART)-based combination therapies (ACTs) to treat CQ-sensitive P. vivax infections is effective and convenient, but may promote the emergence and worsening of ART-resistance in sympatric P. falciparum populations. Here we show that CQ effectively treats P. vivax malaria in Pursat Province, Western Cambodia, where ART-resistant P. falciparum is highly prevalent and spreading.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 07/2014; · 4.57 Impact Factor
  • The Lancet Infectious Diseases 06/2014; 14(6):449-50. · 19.97 Impact Factor
  • Chanaki Amaratunga, Aaron T Neal, Rick M Fairhurst
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    ABSTRACT: The ring-stage survival assay (RSA) is a powerful tool for phenotyping artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum, but requires experienced microscopists to count viable parasites among 10,000 erythrocytes in Giemsa-stained thin blood smears. Here we describe a rapid flow cytometric assay that accurately counts viable parasites among 250,000 erythrocytes in suspension. This method performs as well as light microscopy and can be used to standardize the collection of RSA data between research groups in laboratory and field settings.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 05/2014; · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinin derivatives in southeast Asia threatens malaria control and elimination activities worldwide. To monitor the spread of artemisinin resistance, a molecular marker is urgently needed. Here, using whole-genome sequencing of an artemisinin-resistant parasite line from Africa and clinical parasite isolates from Cambodia, we associate mutations in the PF3D7_1343700 kelch propeller domain ('K13-propeller') with artemisinin resistance in vitro and in vivo. Mutant K13-propeller alleles cluster in Cambodian provinces where resistance is prevalent, and the increasing frequency of a dominant mutant K13-propeller allele correlates with the recent spread of resistance in western Cambodia. Strong correlations between the presence of a mutant allele, in vitro parasite survival rates and in vivo parasite clearance rates indicate that K13-propeller mutations are important determinants of artemisinin resistance. K13-propeller polymorphism constitutes a useful molecular marker for large-scale surveillance efforts to contain artemisinin resistance in the Greater Mekong Subregion and prevent its global spread.
    Nature 12/2013; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum lengthens parasite clearance half-life during artemisinin monotherapy or artemisinin-based combination therapy. Absence of in-vitro and ex-vivo correlates of artemisinin resistance hinders study of this phenotype. We aimed to assess whether an in-vitro ring-stage survival assay (RSA) can identify culture-adapted P falciparum isolates from patients with slow-clearing or fast-clearing infections, to investigate the stage-dependent susceptibility of parasites to dihydroartemisinin in the in-vitro RSA, and to assess whether an ex-vivo RSA can identify artemisinin-resistant P falciparum infections. We culture-adapted parasites from patients with long and short parasite clearance half-lives from a study done in Pursat, Cambodia, in 2010 (registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00341003) and used novel in-vitro survival assays to explore the stage-dependent susceptibility of slow-clearing and fast-clearing parasites to dihydroartemisinin. In 2012, we implemented the RSA in prospective parasite clearance studies in Pursat, Preah Vihear, and Ratanakiri, Cambodia (NCT01736319), to measure the ex-vivo responses of parasites from patients with malaria. Continuous variables were compared with the Mann-Whitney U test. Correlations were analysed with the Spearman correlation test. In-vitro survival rates of culture-adapted parasites from 13 slow-clearing and 13 fast-clearing infections differed significantly when assays were done on 0-3 h ring-stage parasites (10·88% vs 0·23%; p=0·007). Ex-vivo survival rates significantly correlated with in-vivo parasite clearance half-lives (n=30, r=0·74, 95% CI 0·50-0·87; p<0·0001). The in-vitro RSA of 0-3 h ring-stage parasites provides a platform for the molecular characterisation of artemisinin resistance. The ex-vivo RSA can be easily implemented where surveillance for artemisinin resistance is needed. Institut Pasteur du Cambodge and the Intramural Research Program, NIAID, NIH.
    The Lancet Infectious Diseases 09/2013; · 19.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In 2008, dihydroartemisinin (DHA) - piperaquine (PPQ) became the first-line treatment for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in western Cambodia. Recent reports of increased treatment failure rates after DHA-PPQ therapy in this region suggest that parasite resistance to DHA, PPQ, or both is now adversely affecting treatment. While artemisinin (ART) resistance is established in western Cambodia, there is no evidence of PPQ resistance. To monitor for resistance to PPQ and other antimalarials, we measured drug susceptibilities for parasites collected in 2011-2012 from Pursat, Preah Vihear, and Ratanakiri, in western, northern, and eastern Cambodia. Using a SYBR Green I fluorescence assay, we calculated the ex vivo IC50s of 310 parasites to six antimalarials: chloroquine (CQ), mefloquine (MQ), quinine (QN), PPQ, artesunate (ATS), and DHA. Geometric mean IC50s (GMIC50s) for all drugs (except PPQ) were significantly higher in Pursat and Preah Vihear than in Ratanakiri (P ≤ 0.001). Increased pfmdr1 copy number, a MQ resistance marker, was more prevalent in Pursat and Preah Vihear than in Ratanakiri, and was associated with higher GMIC50s for MQ, QN, ATS, and DHA. Increased copy number of a chromosome 5 region ('X5r'), a candidate PPQ resistance marker, was detected in Pursat, but was not associated with reduced susceptibility to PPQ. Ex vivo IC50 and pfmdr1 copy number are important tools in the surveillance of multidrug-resistant (MDR) parasites in Cambodia. While MDR P. falciparum is prevalent in western and northern Cambodia, there is no evidence for PPQ resistance, suggesting that DHA-PPQ treatment failures result mainly from ART resistance.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 08/2013; · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We describe an analysis of genome variation in 825 P. falciparum samples from Asia and Africa that identifies an unusual pattern of parasite population structure at the epicenter of artemisinin resistance in western Cambodia. Within this relatively small geographic area, we have discovered several distinct but apparently sympatric parasite subpopulations with extremely high levels of genetic differentiation. Of particular interest are three subpopulations, all associated with clinical resistance to artemisinin, which have skewed allele frequency spectra and high levels of haplotype homozygosity, indicative of founder effects and recent population expansion. We provide a catalog of SNPs that show high levels of differentiation in the artemisinin-resistant subpopulations, including codon variants in transporter proteins and DNA mismatch repair proteins. These data provide a population-level genetic framework for investigating the biological origins of artemisinin resistance and for defining molecular markers to assist in its elimination.
    Nature Genetics 04/2013; · 35.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous microsatellite analyses of sympatric populations of Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum in Brazil revealed higher diversity in the former species. However, it remains unclear whether regional species-specific differences in prevalence and transmission levels might account for these findings. Here, we examine sympatric populations of P. vivax (n = 87) and P. falciparum (n = 164) parasites from Pursat province, western Cambodia, where both species are similarly prevalent. Using 10 genome-wide microsatellites for P. falciparum and 13 for P. vivax, we found that the P. vivax population was more diverse than the sympatric P. falciparum population (average virtual heterozygosity [HE], 0.87 vs. 0.66, P = 0.003), with more multiple-clone infections (89.6% vs. 47.6%) and larger mean number of alleles per marker (16.2 vs. 11.1, P = 0.07). Both populations showed significant multi-locus linkage disequilibrium suggestive of a predominantly clonal mode of parasite reproduction. The higher microsatellite diversity found in P. vivax isolates, compared to sympatric P. falciparum isolates, does not necessarily result from local differences in transmission level and may reflect differences in population history between species or increased mutation rates in P. vivax.
    Experimental Parasitology 04/2013; · 2.15 Impact Factor
  • The Lancet Infectious Diseases 02/2013; 13(2):113-4. · 19.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum has been reported in Pailin, western Cambodia, detected as a slow parasite clearance rate in vivo. Emergence of this phenotype in western Thailand and possibly elsewhere threatens to compromise the effectiveness of all artemisinin-based combination therapies. Parasite genetics is associated with parasite clearance rate but does not account for all variation. We investigated contributions of both parasite genetics and host factors to the artemisinin-resistance phenotype in Pursat, western Cambodia. Between June 19 and Nov 28, 2009, and June 26 and Dec 6, 2010, we enrolled patients aged 10 years or older with uncomplicated falciparum malaria, a density of asexual parasites of at least 10 000 per μL of whole blood, no symptoms or signs of severe malaria, no other cause of febrile illness, and no chronic illness. We gave participants 4 mg/kg artesunate at 0, 24, and 48 h, 15 mg/kg mefloquine at 72 h, and 10 mg/kg mefloquine at 96 h. We assessed parasite density on thick blood films every 6 h until undetectable. The parasite clearance half-life was calculated from the parasite clearance curve. We genotyped parasites with 18 microsatellite markers and patients for haemoglobin E, α-thalassaemia, and a mutation of G6PD, which encodes glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. To account for the possible effects of acquired immunity on half-life, we used three surrogates for increased likelihood of exposure to P falciparum: age, sex, and place of residence. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00341003. We assessed 3504 individuals from all six districts of Pursat province seeking treatment for malaria symptoms. We enrolled 168 patients with falciparum malaria who met inclusion criteria. The geometric mean half-life was 5·85 h (95% CI 5·54-6·18) in Pursat, similar to that reported in Pailin (p=0·109). We identified two genetically different parasite clone groups: parasite group 1 (PG1) and parasite group 2 (PG2). Non-significant increases in parasite clearance half-life were seen in patients with haemoglobin E (0·55 h; p=0·078), those of male sex (0·96 h; p=0·064), and in 2010 (0·68 h; p=0·068); PG1 was associated with a significant increase (0·79 h; p=0·033). The mean parasite heritability of half-life was 0·40 (SD 0·17). Heritable artemisinin resistance is established in a second Cambodian province. To accurately identify parasites that are intrinsically susceptible or resistant to artemisinins, future studies should explore the effect of erythrocyte polymorphisms and specific immune responses on half-life variation. Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
    The Lancet Infectious Diseases 08/2012; 12(11):851-8. · 19.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Malaria elimination strategies require surveillance of the parasite population for genetic changes that demand a public health response, such as new forms of drug resistance. Here we describe methods for the large-scale analysis of genetic variation in Plasmodium falciparum by deep sequencing of parasite DNA obtained from the blood of patients with malaria, either directly or after short-term culture. Analysis of 86,158 exonic single nucleotide polymorphisms that passed genotyping quality control in 227 samples from Africa, Asia and Oceania provides genome-wide estimates of allele frequency distribution, population structure and linkage disequilibrium. By comparing the genetic diversity of individual infections with that of the local parasite population, we derive a metric of within-host diversity that is related to the level of inbreeding in the population. An open-access web application has been established for the exploration of regional differences in allele frequency and of highly differentiated loci in the P. falciparum genome.
    Nature 06/2012; 487(7407):375-9. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The zeta potential (ZP) is an electrochemical property of cell surfaces that is determined by the net electrical charge of molecules exposed at the surface of cell membranes. Membrane proteins contribute to the total net electrical charge of cell surfaces and can alter ZP through variation in their copy number and changes in their intermolecular interactions. Plasmodium falciparum extensively remodels its host red blood cell (RBC) membrane by placing 'knob'-like structures at the cell surface. Using an electrophoretic mobility assay, we found that the mean ZP of human RBCs was -15.7 mV. In RBCs infected with P. falciparum trophozoites ('iRBCs'), the mean ZP was significantly lower (-14.6 mV, p<0.001). Removal of sialic acid from the cell surface by neuraminidase treatment significantly decreased the ZP of both RBCs (-6.06 mV) and iRBCs (-4.64 mV). Parasite-induced changes in ZP varied by P. falciparum clone and the presence of knobs on the iRBC surface. Variations in ZP values were accompanied by altered binding of iRBCs to human microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs). These data suggest that parasite-derived knob proteins contribute to the ZP of iRBCs, and that electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions between iRBC and MVEC membranes are involved in cytoadherence.
    Experimental Parasitology 03/2012; 131(2):245-51. · 2.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: α-Thalassemia results from decreased production of α-globin chains that make up part of hemoglobin tetramers (Hb; α(2)β(2)) and affects up to 50% of individuals in some regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Heterozygous (-α/αα) and homozygous (-α/-α) genotypes are associated with reduced risk of severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria, but the mechanism of this protection remains obscure. We hypothesized that α-thalassemia impairs the adherence of parasitized red blood cells (RBCs) to microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs) and monocytes--two interactions that are centrally involved in the pathogenesis of severe disease. We obtained P. falciparum isolates directly from Malian children with malaria and used them to infect αα/αα (normal), -α/αα and -α/-α RBCs. We also used laboratory-adapted P. falciparum clones to infect -/-α RBCs obtained from patients with HbH disease. Following a single cycle of parasite invasion and maturation to the trophozoite stage, we tested the ability of parasitized RBCs to bind MVECs and monocytes. Compared to parasitized αα/αα RBCs, we found that parasitized -α/αα, -α/-α and -/-α RBCs showed, respectively, 22%, 43% and 63% reductions in binding to MVECs and 13%, 33% and 63% reductions in binding to monocytes. α-Thalassemia was associated with abnormal display of P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1), the parasite's main cytoadherence ligand and virulence factor, on the surface of parasitized RBCs. Parasitized α-thalassemic RBCs show PfEMP1 display abnormalities that are reminiscent of those on the surface of parasitized sickle HbS and HbC RBCs. Our data suggest a model of malaria protection in which α-thalassemia ameliorates the pro-inflammatory effects of cytoadherence. Our findings also raise the possibility that other unstable hemoglobins such as HbE and unpaired α-globin chains (in the case of β-thalassemia) protect against life-threatening malaria by a similar mechanism.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(5):e37214. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genome and transcriptome studies of Plasmodium nucleic acids obtained from parasitized whole blood are greatly improved by depletion of human DNA or enrichment of parasite DNA prior to next-generation sequencing and microarray hybridization. The most effective method currently used is a two-step procedure to deplete leukocytes: centrifugation using density gradient media followed by filtration through expensive, commercially available columns. This method is not easily implemented in field studies that collect hundreds of samples and simultaneously process samples for multiple laboratory analyses. Inexpensive syringes, hand-packed with CF11 cellulose powder, were recently shown to improve ex vivo cultivation of Plasmodium vivax obtained from parasitized whole blood. This study was undertaken to determine whether CF11 columns could be adapted to isolate Plasmodium falciparum DNA from parasitized whole blood and achieve current quantity and purity requirements for Illumina sequencing. The CF11 procedure was compared with the current two-step standard of leukocyte depletion using parasitized red blood cells cultured in vitro and parasitized blood obtained ex vivo from Cambodian patients with malaria. Procedural variations in centrifugation and column size were tested, along with a range of blood volumes and parasite densities. CF11 filtration reliably produces 500 nanograms of DNA with less than 50% human DNA contamination, which is comparable to that obtained by the two-step method and falls within the current quality control requirements for Illumina sequencing. In addition, a centrifuge-free version of the CF11 filtration method to isolate P. falciparum DNA at remote and minimally equipped field sites in malaria-endemic areas was validated. CF11 filtration is a cost-effective, scalable, one-step approach to remove human DNA from P. falciparum-infected whole blood samples.
    Malaria Journal 01/2012; 11:41. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In Africa, infant susceptibility to Plasmodium falciparum malaria increases substantially as fetal hemoglobin (HbF) and maternal immune IgG disappear from circulation. During the first few months of life, however, resistance to malaria is evidenced by extremely low parasitemias, the absence of fever, and the almost complete lack of severe disease. This resistance has previously been attributed in part to poor parasite growth in HbF-containing red blood cells (RBCs). A specific role for maternal immune IgG in infant resistance to malaria has been hypothesized but not yet identified. We found that P. falciparum parasites invade and develop normally in fetal (cord blood, CB) RBCs, which contain up to 95% HbF. However, these parasitized CB RBCs are impaired in their binding to human microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs), monocytes, and nonparasitized RBCs--cytoadherence interactions that have been implicated in the development of high parasite densities and the symptoms of malaria. Abnormal display of the parasite's cytoadherence antigen P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein-1 (PfEMP-1) on CB RBCs accounts for these findings and is reminiscent of that on HbC and HbS RBCs. IgG purified from the plasma of immune Malian adults almost completely abolishes the adherence of parasitized CB RBCs to MVECs. Our data suggest a model of malaria protection in which HbF and maternal IgG act cooperatively to impair the cytoadherence of parasitized RBCs in the first few months of life. In highly malarious areas of Africa, an infant's contemporaneous expression of HbC or HbS and development of an immune IgG repertoire may effectively reconstitute the waning protective effects of HbF and maternal immune IgG, thereby extending the malaria resistance of infancy into early childhood.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(4):e14798. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The diversity in the Plasmodium falciparum genome can be used to explore parasite population dynamics, with practical applications to malaria control. The ability to identify the geographic origin and trace the migratory patterns of parasites with clinically important phenotypes such as drug resistance is particularly relevant. With increasing single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discovery from ongoing Plasmodium genome sequencing projects, a demand for high SNP and sample throughput genotyping platforms for large-scale population genetic studies is required. Low parasitaemias and multiple clone infections present a number of challenges to genotyping P. falciparum. We addressed some of these issues using a custom 384-SNP Illumina GoldenGate assay on P. falciparum DNA from laboratory clones (long-term cultured adapted parasite clones), short-term cultured parasite isolates and clinical (non-cultured isolates) samples from East and West Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania. Eighty percent of the SNPs (n = 306) produced reliable genotype calls on samples containing as little as 2 ng of total genomic DNA and on whole genome amplified DNA. Analysis of artificial mixtures of laboratory clones demonstrated high genotype calling specificity and moderate sensitivity to call minor frequency alleles. Clear resolution of geographically distinct populations was demonstrated using Principal Components Analysis (PCA), and global patterns of population genetic diversity were consistent with previous reports. These results validate the utility of the platform in performing population genetic studies of P. falciparum.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(6):e20251. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ideal malaria parasite populations for initial mapping of genomic regions contributing to phenotypes such as drug resistance and virulence, through genome-wide association studies, are those with high genetic diversity, allowing for numerous informative markers, and rare meiotic recombination, allowing for strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) between markers and phenotype-determining loci. However, levels of genetic diversity and LD in field populations of the major human malaria parasite P. vivax remain little characterized. We examined single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and LD patterns across a 100-kb chromosome segment of P. vivax in 238 field isolates from areas of low to moderate malaria endemicity in South America and Asia, where LD tends to be more extensive than in holoendemic populations, and in two monkey-adapted strains (Salvador-I, from El Salvador, and Belem, from Brazil). We found varying levels of SNP diversity and LD across populations, with the highest diversity and strongest LD in the area of lowest malaria transmission. We found several clusters of contiguous markers with rare meiotic recombination and characterized a relatively conserved haplotype structure among populations, suggesting the existence of recombination hotspots in the genome region analyzed. Both silent and nonsynonymous SNPs revealed substantial between-population differentiation, which accounted for ~40% of the overall genetic diversity observed. Although parasites clustered according to their continental origin, we found evidence for substructure within the Brazilian population of P. vivax. We also explored between-population differentiation patterns revealed by loci putatively affected by natural selection and found marked geographic variation in frequencies of nucleotide substitutions at the pvmdr-1 locus, putatively associated with drug resistance. These findings support the feasibility of genome-wide association studies in carefully selected populations of P. vivax, using relatively low densities of markers, but underscore the risk of false positives caused by population structure at both local and regional levels.
    BMC Genetics 01/2010; 11:65. · 2.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

330 Citations
227.17 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2014
    • National Institutes of Health
      • Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research Molecular Immunology
      Maryland, United States
  • 2010–2014
    • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
      • Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases (LPD)
      Maryland, United States
  • 2013
    • French National Centre for Scientific Research
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
    • Mahidol University
      Krung Thep, Bangkok, Thailand
  • 2011–2012
    • Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom