Cytochrome b Drug Resistance Mutation Decreases Babesia Fitness in the Tick Stages But Not the Mammalian Erythrocytic Cycle

Joy E. Chiu, Isaline Renard, Santosh George, Anasuya C. Pal, P. Holland Alday, Sukanya Narasimhan, Michael K. Riscoe, J. Stone Doggett, Choukri Ben Mamoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Human babesiosis is an emerging tick-borne malaria-like illness caused by Babesia parasites following their development in erythrocytes. Here, we show that a mutation in the Babesia microti mitochondrial cytochrome b (Cytb) that confers resistance to the antibabesial drug ELQ-502 decreases parasite fitness in the arthropod vector. Interestingly, whereas the mutant allele does not affect B. microti fitness during the mammalian blood phase of the parasite life cycle and is genetically stable as parasite burden increases, ELQ-502-resistant mutant parasites developing in the tick vector are genetically unstable with a high rate of the wild-type allele emerging during the nymphal stage. Furthermore, we show that B. microti parasites with this mutation are transmitted from the tick to the host, raising the possibility that the frequency of Cytb resistance mutations may be decreased by passage through the tick vector, but could persist in the environment if present when ticks feed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-145
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of infectious diseases
Volume225
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 5 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ixodes scapularis
  • drug resistance
  • endochin-like quinolone
  • transmission
  • vector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases

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