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    Parasitic nematodes are major human and agricultural pests, and benzimidazoles are amongst the most important broad-spectrum anthelmintic drug class used for their control. Benzimidazole resistance is now widespread in many species of parasitic nematodes in livestock globally and an emerging concern for the sustainable control of human soil-transmitted helminths. β-tubulin is the major benzimidazole target, although other genes may influence resistance. Among the 6 Caenorhabditis elegans β-tubulin genes, loss of ben-1 causes resistance without other apparent defects. Here, we explored the genetics of C. elegans β-tubulin genes in relation to the response to the benzimidazole derivative albendazole. The most highly expressed β-tubulin isotypes, encoded by tbb-1 and tbb-2, were known to be redundant with each other for viability, and their products are predicted not to bind benzimidazoles. We found that tbb-2 mutants, and to a lesser extent tbb-1 mutants, were hypersensitive to albendazole. The double mutant tbb-2 ben-1 is uncoordinated and short, resembling the wild type exposed to albendazole, but the tbb-1 ben-1 double mutant did not show the same phenotypes. These results suggest that tbb-2 is a modifier of albendazole sensitivity. To better understand how BEN-1 mutates to cause benzimidazole resistance, we isolated mutants resistant to albendazole and found that 15 of 16 mutations occurred in the ben-1 coding region. Mutations ranged from likely nulls to hypomorphs, and several corresponded to residues that cause resistance in other organisms. Null alleles of ben-1 are albendazole-resistant and BEN-1 shows high sequence identity with tubulins from other organisms, suggesting that many amino acid changes could cause resistance. However, our results suggest that missense mutations conferring resistance are not evenly distributed across all possible conserved sites. Independent of their roles in benzimidazole resistance, tbb-1 and tbb-2 may have specialized functions as null mutants of tbb-1 or tbb-2 were cold or heat sensitive, respectively. © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Genetics Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.

    Citation

    Linda M Pallotto, Clayton M Dilks, Ye-Jean Park, Ryan B Smit, Brian T Lu, Chandrasekhar Gopalakrishnan, John S Gilleard, Erik C Andersen, Paul E Mains. Interactions of Caenorhabditis elegans β-tubulins with the microtubule inhibitor and anthelmintic drug albendazole. Genetics. 2022 Jul 30;221(4)

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    PMID: 35731216

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