Consistent signatures of selection from genomic analysis of pairs of temporal and spatial Plasmodium falciparum populations from The Gambia.
Amambua-Ngwa A., Jeffries D., Amato R., Worwui A., Karim M., Ceesay S., Nyang H., Nwakanma D., Okebe J., Kwiatkowski D., Conway DJ., D'Alessandro U.
Genome sequences of 247 Plasmodium falciparum isolates collected in The Gambia in 2008 and 2014 were analysed to identify changes possibly related to the scale-up of antimalarial interventions that occurred during this period. Overall, there were 15 regions across the genomes with signatures of positive selection. Five of these were sweeps around known drug resistance and antigenic loci. Signatures at antigenic loci such as thrombospodin related adhesive protein (Pftrap) were most frequent in eastern Gambia, where parasite prevalence and transmission remain high. There was a strong temporal differentiation at a non-synonymous SNP in a cysteine desulfarase (Pfnfs) involved in iron-sulphur complex biogenesis. During the 7-year period, the frequency of the lysine variant at codon 65 (Pfnfs-Q65K) increased by 22% (10% to 32%) in the Greater Banjul area. Between 2014 and 2015, the frequency of this variant increased by 6% (20% to 26%) in eastern Gambia. IC50 for lumefantrine was significantly higher in Pfnfs-65K isolates. This is probably the first evidence of directional selection on Pfnfs or linked loci by lumefantrine. Given the declining malaria transmission, the consequent loss of population immunity, and sustained drug pressure, it is important to monitor Gambian P. falciparum populations for further signs of adaptation.