An invermectin sensitive ion channel from haemonchus contortus

  • Samantha Mccavera

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The avermectins (ivermectin, doramectin etc) and milbemycins are effective anthelmintics used widely in animal and human medicine for the past twenty years. The actual site of action of the avermectins on the GluCl is unclear, but binding studies have concluded that it does not share a binding site with glutamate. The GluCl channels have been well characterised in Caenorhabditis elegans and are beginning to be characterised in parasitic nematode species such as Haemonchus contortus, Dirofilaria immitis and Cooperia oncophora. The aim of this project was to characterise the H. contortus GluClα3B subunit and its interactions with agonists, glutamate and ivermectin using electrophysiology to study Xenopus oocytes expressing GluClα3B homomeric channels and ligand binding studies on COS-7 cells expressing the subunits. Site–directed mutagenesis was used to introduce resistance associated candidate polymorphisms into the H. contortus GluClα3B subunit. The effects of these changes on the response to glutamate and ivermectin were assessed. One mutation found in IVR C. oncophora, L256F, confers a 3-fold loss of sensitivity to glutamate and a 6.5 fold loss of sensitivity to IVM. This mutation is found in the C-terminal area of the extracellular region of the channel and, from homology modelling, we know it lies in close proximity and possibly interferes with another candidate mutation V235A, and the Cysteine residue at position 192 which forms one side of the structurally significant disulphide bridge. Further introduction of different mutations at this position showed the larger the substituted amino acid, the greater the effect on IVM sensitivity. Another amino acid substitution (T300S) results in the prohibition of a functional channel. The protein is produced and is able to bind IVM with high affinity but does not create a functional channel. These data show that polymorphisms found in field isolates of parasites can have a significant effect on GluCl channels and may contribute to drug resistance.
Date of Award1 Jul 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAdrian Wolstenholme (Supervisor) & Debra J Woods (Supervisor)


  • GluCl
  • electrophysiology
  • resistance
  • ivermectin
  • haemonchus contortus

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