Genetic Diversity and Natural Selection of Plasmodium Vivax Multi-Drug Resistant Gene (pvmdr1) in Mesoamerica

01 Jul 2017
González-Cerón L, Montoya A, Corzo-Gómez JC, Cerritos R, Santillán F, Sandoval MA


The Plasmodium vivax multidrug resistant 1 gene (pvmdr1) codes for a transmembrane protein of the parasite's digestive vacuole. It is likely that the pvmdr1 gene mutations occur at different sites by convergent evolution. In here, the genetic variation of pvmdr1 at three sites of the Mesoamerican region was studied. Since 1950s, malarious patients of those areas have been treated only with chloroquine and primaquine.


Blood samples from patients infected with P. vivax were obtained in southern Mexico (SMX), in the Northwest (NIC-NW) and in the northeast (NIC-NE) of Nicaragua. Genomic DNA was obtained and fragments of pvmdr1 were amplified and sequenced. The nucleotide and amino acid changes as well as the haplotype frequency in pvmdr1 were determined per strain and per geographic site. The sequences of pvmdr1 obtained from the studied regions were compared with homologous sequences from the GenBank database to explore the P. vivax genetic structure.


In 141 parasites, eight nucleotide changes (two changes were synonymous and other six were nonsynonymous) were detected in 1536 bp. The PvMDR1 amino acid changes Y976F, F1076FL were predominant in endemic parasites from NIC-NE and outbreak parasites in NIC-NW but absent in SMX. Thirteen haplotypes were resolved, and found to be closely related, but their frequency at each geographic site was different (P = 0.0001). The pvmdr1 gene fragment showed higher genetic and haplotype diversity in parasites from NIC-NE than the other areas outside Latin America. The haplotype networks suggested local diversification of pvmdr1 and no significant departure from neutrality. The F values were low to moderate regionally, but high between NIC-NE or NIC-NW and other regions inside and outside Latin America.


The pvmdr1 gene might have diversified recently at regional level. In the absence of significant natural, genetic drift might have caused differential pvmdr1 haplotype frequencies at different geographic sites in Mesoamerica. A very recent expansion of divergent pvmdr1 haplotypes in NIC-NE/NIC-NW produced high differentiation between these and parasites from other sites including SMX. These data are useful to set a baseline for epidemiological surveillance.