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      Detection of knockdown resistance (kdr) mutations in Anopheles gambiae: a comparison of two new high-throughput assays with existing methods

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          Knockdown resistance ( kdr) is a well-characterized mechanism of resistance to pyrethroid insecticides in many insect species and is caused by point mutations of the pyrethroid target site the para-type sodium channel. The presence of kdr mutations in Anopheles gambiae, the most important malaria vector in Africa, has been monitored using a variety of molecular techniques. However, there are few reports comparing the performance of these different assays. In this study, two new high-throughput assays were developed and compared with four established techniques.


          Fluorescence-based assays based on 1) TaqMan probes and 2) high resolution melt (HRM) analysis were developed to detect kdr alleles in An. gambiae. Four previously reported techniques for kdr detection, Allele Specific Polymerase Chain Reaction (AS-PCR), Heated Oligonucleotide Ligation Assay (HOLA), Sequence Specific Oligonucleotide Probe – Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (SSOP-ELISA) and PCR-Dot Blot were also optimized. The sensitivity and specificity of all six assays was then compared in a blind genotyping trial of 96 single insect samples that included a variety of kdr genotypes and African Anopheline species. The relative merits of each assay was assessed based on the performance in the genotyping trial, the length/difficulty of each protocol, cost (both capital outlay and consumable cost), and safety (requirement for hazardous chemicals).


          The real-time TaqMan assay was both the most sensitive (with the lowest number of failed reactions) and the most specific (with the lowest number of incorrect scores). Adapting the TaqMan assay to use a PCR machine and endpoint measurement with a fluorimeter showed a slight reduction in sensitivity and specificity. HRM initially gave promising results but was more sensitive to both DNA quality and quantity and consequently showed a higher rate of failure and incorrect scores. The sensitivity and specificity of AS-PCR, SSOP-ELISA, PCR Dot Blot and HOLA was fairly similar with a small number of failures and incorrect scores.


          The results of blind genotyping trials of each assay indicate that where maximum sensitivity and specificity are required the TaqMan real-time assay is the preferred method. However, the cost of this assay, particularly in terms of initial capital outlay, is higher than that of some of the other methods. TaqMan assays using a PCR machine and fluorimeter are nearly as sensitive as real-time assays and provide a cost saving in capital expenditure. If price is a primary factor in assay choice then the AS-PCR, SSOP-ELISA, and HOLA are all reasonable alternatives with the SSOP-ELISA approach having the highest throughput.

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          Most cited references 37

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          Identification of single specimens of the Anopheles gambiae complex by the polymerase chain reaction.

          A ribosomal DNA-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method has been developed for species identification of individuals of the five most widespread members of the Anopheles gambiae complex, a group of morphologically indistinguishable sibling mosquito species that includes the major vectors of malaria in Africa. The method, which is based on species-specific nucleotide sequences in the ribosomal DNA intergenic spacers, may be used to identify both species and interspecies hybrids, regardless of life stage, using either extracted DNA or fragments of a specimen. Intact portions of a mosquito as small as an egg or the segment of one leg may be placed directly into the PCR mixture for amplification and analysis. The method uses a cocktail of five 20-base oligonucleotides to identify An. gambiae, An. arabiensis, An. quadriannnulatus, and either An. melas in western Africa or An. melas in eastern and southern Africa.
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            Molecular characterization of pyrethroid knockdown resistance (kdr) in the major malaria vector Anopheles gambiae s.s.

            Pyrethroid-impregnated bednets are playing an increasing role for combating malaria, especially in stable malaria areas. More than 90% of the current annual malaria incidence (c. 500 million clinical cases with up to 2 million deaths) is in Africa where the major vector is Anopheles gambiae s.s. As pyrethroid resistance has been reported in this mosquito, reliable and simple techniques are urgently needed to characterize and monitor this resistance in the field. In insects, an important mechanism of pyrethroid resistance is due to a modification of the voltage-gated sodium channel protein recently shown to be associated with mutations of the para-type sodium channel gene. We demonstrate here that one of these mutations is present in certain strains of pyrethroid resistant A. gambiae s.s. and describe a PCR-based diagnostic test allowing its detection in the genome of single mosquitoes. Using this test, we found this mutation in six out of seven field samples from West Africa, its frequency being closely correlated with survival to pyrethroid exposure. This diagnostic test should bring major improvement for field monitoring of pyrethroid resistance, within the framework of malaria control programmes.
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              Identification of a point mutation in the voltage-gated sodium channel gene of Kenyan Anopheles gambiae associated with resistance to DDT and pyrethroids.

              A field trial of permethrin-impregnated bednets and curtains was initiated in Western Kenya in 1990, and a strain of Anopheles gambiae showing reduced susceptibility to permethrin was colonized from this site in 1992. A leucine-phenylalanine substitution at position 1014 of the voltage-gated sodium channel is associated with resistance to permethrin and DDT in many insect species, including Anopheles gambiae from West Africa. We cloned and sequenced a partial sodium channel cDNA from the Kenyan permethrin-resistant strain and we identified an alternative substitution (leucine to serine) at the same position, which is linked to the inheritance of permethrin resistance in the F(2) progeny of genetic crosses between susceptible and resistant individuals. The diagnostic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) developed by Martinez-Torres et al. [(1998) Insect Mol Biol 7: 179-184] to detect kdr alleles in field populations of An. gambiae will not detect the Kenyan allele and hence reliance on this assay may lead to an underestimate of the prevalence of pyrethroid resistance in this species. We adapted the diagnostic PCR to detect the leucine-serine mutation and with this diagnostic we were able to demonstrate that this kdr allele was present in individuals collected from the Kenyan trial site in 1986, prior to the introduction of pyrethroid-impregnated bednets. The An. gambiae sodium channel was physically mapped to chromosome 2L, division 20C. This position corresponds to the location of a major quantitative trait locus determining resistance to permethrin in the Kenyan strain of An. gambiae.

                Author and article information

                Malar J
                Malaria Journal
                BioMed Central (London )
                13 August 2007
                : 6
                : 111
                [1 ]Department of Biological Chemistry, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ, UK
                [2 ]Vector Group, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool L35QA, UK
                [3 ]Division of Cell and Molecular Biology, Sir Alexander Flemming Building, Imperial College, London, UK
                [4 ]Laboratory of Pesticide Science, Agricultural University of Athens, Iera Odos 75, 118 55, Votanikos, Athens, Greece
                Copyright © 2007 Bass et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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