Mutations in the Plasmodium falciparum Cyclic Amine Resistance Locus (PfCARL) Confer Multidrug Resistance.
Mutations in the Plasmodium falciparum cyclic amine resistance locus (PfCARL) are associated with parasite resistance to the imidazolopiperazines, a potent class of novel antimalarial compounds that display both prophylactic and transmission-blocking activity, in addition to activity against blood-stage parasites. Here, we show that pfcarl encodes a protein, with a predicted molecular weight of 153 kDa, that localizes to the cis-Golgi apparatus of the parasite in both asexual and sexual blood stages. Utilizing clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-mediated gene introduction of 5 variants (L830V, S1076N/I, V1103L, and I1139K), we demonstrate that mutations in pfcarl are sufficient to generate resistance against the imidazolopiperazines in both asexual and sexual blood-stage parasites. We further determined that the mutant PfCARL protein confers resistance to several structurally unrelated compounds. These data suggest that PfCARL modulates the levels of small-molecule inhibitors that affect Golgi-related processes, such as protein sorting or membrane trafficking, and is therefore an important mechanism of resistance in malaria parasites.