a1 Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK
Ligand-gated chloride channels, including the glutamate-(GluCl) and GABA-gated channels, are the targets of the macrocyclic lactone (ML) family of anthelmintics. Changes in the sequence and expression of these channels can cause resistance to the ML in laboratory models, such as Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster. Mutations in multiple GluCl subunit genes are required for high-level ML resistance in C. elegans, and this can be influenced by additional mutations in gap junction and amphid genes. Parasitic nematodes have a different complement of channel subunit genes from C. elegans, but a few genes, including avr-14, are widely present. A polymorphism in an avr-14 orthologue, which makes the subunit less sensitive to ivermectin and glutamate, has been identified in Cooperia oncophora, and polymorphisms in several subunits have been reported from resistant isolates of Haemonchus contortus. This has led to suggestions that ML resistance may be polygenic. Possible reasons for this, and its consequences for the development of molecular tests for resistance, are explored.