Skip to content


Malaria Journal

Open Access

Large differences in variability for genes associated with antimalarial drug resistance between samples from Tanzania and Ethiopia

  • Lemu Golassa1,
  • Nizar Enweji1,
  • Göte Swedberg1,
  • Erasmus Kamugisha2 and
  • Angel Choy1
Malaria Journal201413(Suppl 1):P87

Published: 22 September 2014


ChloroquineAntimalarial DrugVariable PartArtemisinin Combination TherapyChloroquine Resistance


Changes in antimalarial drug policy lead to selection of the most successful parasite clones. In spite of a change to Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT), we have earlier shown a low degree of variability for the chloroquine resistance marker pfcrt in samples of Plasmodium falciparum from Ethiopia with 100% carrying the crucial K76T variant [1].

Materials and methods

The study material was collected in the Shalla district, Oromia, Ethiopia, and in different parts of Tanzania. Genetic polymorphisms in the genes pfmdr1 and pfubp1 were analysed by PCR and nucleotide sequence determinations.


A surprising finding was that a majority of Ethiopian isolates carried the wild type variant of pfmdr1. The majority of samples from different regions of Tanzania were wild type for both pfcrt and pfmdr1. Analysis of a variable linker region in pfmdr1 showed substantial variation in samples from Tanzania, but minimal variation in samples from Ethiopia. The variable part consists of consecutive NDN residues. The dominating variant in Ethiopians was 7/2/9 and 7/2/10 in Tanzania. The same pattern was seen for a variable part of the pfubp1 gene, where all Ethiopian samples were identical to 3D7. In 19 Tanzanian samples only 8 were identical to 3D7 with 5 other variants. A polymorphism at codon 1528, detected previously in Kenyan samples [2] was found in 2 Tanzanian samples.


While the presence of the mutant variant of pfcrt in the Ethiopian samples can be explained by continued use of chloroquine in Ethiopia for treatment of P. vivax, the selection of wild type pfmdr1 could be a consequence of using ACT for treatment of P. falciparum. In general, the variability in both studied genes was greater in Tanzania than in Ethiopia. There are no data yet to link the variability in pfubp1 to efficacy of ACT.

Authors’ Affiliations

Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, Mwanza, Tanzania


  1. Golassa L, Enweji N, Erko B, Aseffa A, Swedberg G: High prevalence of pfcrt-CVIET haplotype in isolates from asymptomatic and symptomatic patients in south-central Oromia, Ethiopia. Malaria J. 2014, 13: 120-10.1186/1475-2875-13-120.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  2. Borrmann S: Genome-wide screen identifies new candidate genes associated with artemisinin susceptibility in Plasmodium falciparum in Kenya. Sci Rep. 2013, 3: 3318-PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar


© Golassa et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to 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. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.