Multidrug resistance in parasites: ABC transporters, P-glycoproteins and molecular modelling

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Journal Article
International Journal for Parasitology, 2005, 35 (5), pp. 555 - 566
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Parasitic diseases, caused by protozoa, helminths and arthropods, rank among the most important problems in human and veterinary medicine, and in agriculture, leading to debilitating sicknesses and loss of life. In the absence of vaccines and with the general failure of vector eradication programs, drugs are the main line of defence, but the newest drugs are being tracked by the emergence of resistance in parasites, sharing ominous parallels with multidrug resistance in bacterial pathogens. Any of a number of mechanisms will elicit a drug resistance phenotype in parasites, including: active efflux, reduced uptake, target modification, drug modification, drug sequestration, by-pass shunting, or substrate competition. The role of ABC transporters in parasitic multidrug resistance mechanisms is being subjected to more scrutiny, due in part to the established roles of certain ABC transporters in human diseases, and also to an increasing portfolio of ABC transporters from parasite genome sequencing projects. For example, over 100 ABC transporters have been identified in the Escherichia coli genome, but to date only about 65 in all parasitic genomes. Long established laboratory investigations are now being assisted by molecular biology, bioinformatics, and computational modelling, and it is in these areas that the role of ABC transporters in parasitic multidrug resistance mechanisms may be defined and put in perspective with that of other proteins. We discuss ABC transporters in parasites, and conclude with an example of molecular modelling that identifies a new interaction between the structural domains of a parasite P-glycoprotein. © 2005 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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