Biochemical Journal

Research article

Identification of a novel class of insect glutathione S-transferases involved in resistance to DDT in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae

Hilary RANSON, Louise ROSSITER, Federica ORTELLI, Betty JENSEN, Xuelan WANG, Charles W. ROTH, Frank H. COLLINS, Janet HEMINGWAY


The sequence and cytological location of five Anopheles gambiae glutathione S-transferase (GST) genes are described. Three of these genes, aggst1-8, aggst1-9 and aggst1-10, belong to the insect class I family and are located on chromosome 2R, in close proximity to previously described members of this gene family. The remaining two genes, aggst3-1 and aggst3-2, have a low sequence similarity to either of the two previously recognized classes of insect GSTs and this prompted a re-evaluation of the classification of insect GST enzymes. We provide evidence for seven possible classes of insect protein with GST-like subunits. Four of these contain sequences with significant similarities to mammalian GSTs. The largest novel insect GST class, class III, contains functional GST enzymes including two of the A. gambiae GSTs described in this report and GSTs from Drosophila melanogaster, Musca domestica, Manduca sexta and Plutella xylostella. The genes encoding the class III GST of A. gambiae map to a region of the genome on chromosome 3R that contains a major DDT [1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis-(p-chlorophenyl)ethane] resistance gene, suggesting that this gene family is involved in GST-based resistance in this important malaria vector. In further support of their role in resistance, we show that the mRNA levels of aggst3-2 are approx. 5-fold higher in a DDT resistant strain than in the susceptible strain and demonstrate that recombinant AgGST3-2 has very high DDT dehydrochlorinase activity.

  • classification of insect GST enzymes
  • Drosophila genome
  • insecticide resistance


  • 1 Present address and address for correspondence: Parasite and Vector Biology Division, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool L3 5QA, U.K.) (e-mail HRanson{at}

  • The nucleotide sequence data reported will appear in DDBJ, EMBL and GenBank® Nucleotide Sequence Databases under the accession numbers AF316635 to AF316638.

  • Abbreviations used: BAC, bacterial artificial chromosome; CDNB, 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene; DCNB, 1,2-dichloro-4-nitrobenzene; DDE, 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis-(p-chlorophenyl)ethane; DDT, 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis-(p-chlorophenyl)ethane; GST, glutathione S-transferase; RACE, rapid amplification of cDNA ends.