The duplicated P450s CYP6P9a/b drive carbamates and pyrethroids cross-resistance in the major African malaria vector Anopheles funestus

Leon M J Mugenzi, Theofelix A Tekoh, Sulaiman S Ibrahim, Abdullahi Muhammad, Mersimine Kouamo, Murielle J Wondji, Helen Irving, Jack Hearn, Charles S Wondji

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Cross-resistance to insecticides in multiple resistant malaria vectors is hampering resistance management. Understanding its underlying molecular basis is critical to implementation of suitable insecticide-based interventions. Here, we established that the tandemly duplicated cytochrome P450s, CYP6P9a/b are driving carbamate and pyrethroid cross-resistance in Southern African populations of the major malaria vector Anopheles funestus. Transcriptome sequencing revealed that cytochrome P450s are the most over-expressed genes in bendiocarb and permethrin-resistant An. funestus. The CYP6P9a and CYP6P9b genes are overexpressed in resistant An. funestus from Southern Africa (Malawi) versus susceptible An. funestus (Fold change (FC) is 53.4 and 17 respectively), while the CYP6P4a and CYP6P4b genes are overexpressed in resistant An. funestus in Ghana, West Africa, (FC is 41.1 and 17.2 respectively). Other up-regulated genes in resistant An. funestus include several additional cytochrome P450s (e.g. CYP9J5, CYP6P2, CYP6P5), glutathione-S transferases, ATP-binding cassette transporters, digestive enzymes, microRNA and transcription factors (FC<7). Targeted enrichment sequencing strongly linked a known major pyrethroid resistance locus (rp1) to carbamate resistance centering around CYP6P9a/b. In bendiocarb resistant An. funestus, this locus exhibits a reduced nucleotide diversity, significant p-values when comparing allele frequencies, and the most non-synonymous substitutions. Recombinant enzyme metabolism assays showed that both CYP6P9a/b metabolize carbamates. Transgenic expression of CYP6P9a/b in Drosophila melanogaster revealed that flies expressing both genes were significantly more resistant to carbamates than controls. Furthermore, a strong correlation was observed between carbamate resistance and CYP6P9a genotypes with homozygote resistant An. funestus (CYP6P9a and the 6.5kb enhancer structural variant) exhibiting a greater ability to withstand bendiocarb/propoxur exposure than homozygote CYP6P9a_susceptible (e.g Odds ratio = 20.8, P<0.0001 for bendiocarb) and heterozygotes (OR = 9.7, P<0.0001). Double homozygote resistant genotype (RR/RR) were even more able to survive than any other genotype combination showing an additive effect. This study highlights the risk that pyrethroid resistance escalation poses to the efficacy of other classes of insecticides. Available metabolic resistance DNA-based diagnostic assays should be used by control programs to monitor cross-resistance between insecticides before implementing new interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1010678
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number3
Early online date27 Mar 2023
Publication statusFirst published - 27 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Mugenzi et al.


  • Animals
  • Anopheles/genetics
  • Carbamates/metabolism
  • Cytochromes/metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Ghana
  • Insecticide Resistance/genetics
  • Insecticides/pharmacology
  • Malaria
  • Mosquito Vectors/genetics
  • Pyrethrins/metabolism


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