Vital and dispensable roles of Plasmodium multidrug resistance transporters during blood- and mosquito-stage development

Mol Microbiol. 2016 Jul;101(1):78-91. doi: 10.1111/mmi.13373. Epub 2016 May 23.


Multidrug resistance (MDR) proteins belong to the B subfamily of the ATP Binding Cassette (ABC) transporters, which export a wide range of compounds including pharmaceuticals. In this study, we used reverse genetics to study the role of all seven Plasmodium MDR proteins during the life cycle of malaria parasites. Four P. berghei genes (encoding MDR1, 4, 6 and 7) were refractory to deletion, indicating a vital role during blood stage multiplication and validating them as potential targets for antimalarial drugs. Mutants lacking expression of MDR2, MDR3 and MDR5 were generated in both P. berghei and P. falciparum, indicating a dispensable role for blood stage development. Whereas P. berghei mutants lacking MDR3 and MDR5 had a reduced blood stage multiplication in vivo, blood stage growth of P. falciparum mutants in vitro was not significantly different. Oocyst maturation and sporozoite formation in Plasmodium mutants lacking MDR2 or MDR5 was reduced. Sporozoites of these P. berghei mutants were capable of infecting mice and life cycle completion, indicating the absence of vital roles during liver stage development. Our results demonstrate vital and dispensable roles of MDR proteins during blood stages and an important function in sporogony for MDR2 and MDR5 in both Plasmodium species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology
  • Culicidae / parasitology*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple
  • Female
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology
  • Male
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Plasmodium berghei / drug effects*
  • Plasmodium berghei / genetics
  • Plasmodium berghei / growth & development
  • Plasmodium berghei / metabolism*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism*
  • Sporozoites / metabolism


  • Antimalarials
  • Mdr1 protein, Plasmodium falciparum
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins