Adaptive Landscape by Environment Interactions Dictate Evolutionary Dynamics in Models of Drug resistance


Ogbunugafor, C.B., C.S Wylie, I Diakite, D. M. Weinreich, and D. L. Hartl. 2016. “Adaptive Landscape by Environment Interactions Dictate Evolutionary Dynamics in Models of Drug resistance.” PLOS Computational Biology.


The adaptive landscape analogy has found practical use in recent years, as many have explored how their understanding can inform therapeutic strategies that subvert the evolution of drug resistance. A major barrier to applications of these concepts is a lack of detail concerning how the environment affects adaptive landscape topography, and consequently, the outcome of drug treatment. Here we combine empirical data, evolutionary theory, and computer simulations towards dissecting adaptive landscape by environment interactions for the evolution of drug resistance in two dimensions—drug concentration and drug type. We do so by studying the resistance mediated by Plasmodium falciparum dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) to two related inhibitors—pyrimethamine and cycloguanil—across a breadth of drug concentrations. We first examine whether the adaptive landscapes for the two drugs are consistent with common definitions of cross-resistance. We then reconstruct all accessible pathways across the landscape, observing how their structure changes with drug environment. We offer a mechanism for non-linearity in the topography of accessible pathways by calculating of the interaction between mutation effects and drug environment, which reveals rampant patterns of epistasis. We then simulate evolution in several different drug environments to observe how these individual mutation effects (and patterns of epistasis) influence paths taken at evolutionary “forks in the road” that dictate adaptive dynamics in silico. In doing so, we reveal how classic metrics like the IC50 and minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) are dubious proxies for understanding how evolution will occur across drug environments. We also consider how the findings reveal ambiguities in the cross-resistance concept, as subtle differences in adaptive landscape topography between otherwise equivalent drugs can drive drastically different evolutionary outcomes. Summarizing, we discuss the results with regards to their basic contribution to the study of empirical adaptive landscapes, and in terms of how they inform new models for the evolution of drug resistance.