by Cécile Ménez, Mélanie Alberich, Elise Courtot, Fabrice Guegnard, Alexandra Blanchard, Hugo Aguilaniu, Anne Lespine
Resistance to the anthelmintic macrocyclic lactone ivermectin (IVM) has a great impact on the control of parasitic nematodes. The mechanisms by which nematodes adapt to IVM remain to be deciphered. We have identified NHR-8, a nuclear hormone receptor involved in the xenobiotic response in Caenorhabditis elegans, as a new regulator of tolerance to IVM. Loss-of-function nhr-8(ok186) C. elegans mutants subjected to larval development assays and electropharyngeogram measurements, displayed hypersensitivity to IVM, and silencing of nhr-8 in IVM-resistant worms increased IVM efficacy. In addition, compared to wild-type worms, nhr-8 mutants under IVM selection pressure failed to acquire tolerance to the drug. In addition, IVM-hypersensitive nhr-8(ok186) worms displayed low transcript levels of several genes from the xenobiotic detoxification network and a concomitant low Pgp-mediated drug efflux activity. Interestingly, some pgp and cyp genes known to impact IVM tolerance in many nematode species, were down regulated in nhr-8 mutants and inversely upregulated in IVM-resistant worms. Moreover, pgp-6 overexpression in nhr-8(ok186) C. elegans increased tolerance to IVM. Importantly, NHR-8 function was rescued in nhr-8(ok186) C. elegans with the homolog of the parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus, and silencing of Hco-nhr-8 by RNAi on L2 H. contortus larvae increased IVM susceptibility in both susceptible and resistant H. contortus isolates. Thus, our data show that NHR-8 controls the tolerance and development of resistance to IVM in C. elegans and the molecular basis for this relates to the NHR-8-mediated upregulation of IVM detoxification genes. Since our results show that Hco–nhr-8 functions similarly to Cel–nhr-8, this study helps to better understand mechanisms underlying failure in drug efficacy and open perspectives in finding new compounds with NHR-8 antagonist activity to potentiate IVM efficacy.
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