19 April 2017
Pyrethroid resistance in malaria vector, An. funestus is increasingly reported across Africa, threatening the sustainability of pyrethroid-based control interventions, including long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs). Managing this problem requires understanding of the molecular basis of the resistance from different regions of the continent, to establish whether it is being driven by a single or independent selective events. Here, using a genome-wide transcription profiling of pyrethroid resistant populations from southern (Malawi), East (Uganda), and West Africa (Benin), we investigated the molecular basis of resistance, revealing strong differences between the different African regions. The duplicated cytochrome P450 genes ( CYP6P9a and CYP6P9b) which were highly overexpressed in southern Africa are not the most upregulated in other regions, where other genes are more overexpressed, including GSTe2 in West (Benin) and CYP9K1 in East (Uganda). The lack of directional selection on both CYP6P9a and CYP6P9b in Uganda in contrast to southern Africa further supports the limited role of these genes outside southern Africa. However, other genes such as the P450 CYP9J11 are commonly overexpressed in all countries across Africa. Here, CYP9J11 is functionally characterized and shown to confer resistance to pyrethroids and moderate cross-resistance to carbamates (bendiocarb). The consistent overexpression of GSTe2 in Benin is coupled with a role of allelic variation at this gene as GAL4-UAS transgenic expression in Drosophila flies showed that the resistant 119F allele is highly efficient in conferring both DDT and permethrin resistance than the L119. The heterogeneity in the molecular basis of resistance and cross-resistance to insecticides in An. funestus populations throughout sub-Saharan African should be taken into account in designing resistance management strategies.