Inhibition of Plasmodium falciparum oocyst production by membrane-permeant cysteine protease inhibitor E64d


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Eksi S. , CZESNY B., VAN GEMERT G. -. , SAUERWEIN R. W. , ELING W., WILLIAMSON K. C.

ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS AND CHEMOTHERAPY, vol.51, no.3, pp.1064-1070, 2007 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 51 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Doi Number: 10.1128/aac.01012-06
  • Title of Journal : ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS AND CHEMOTHERAPY
  • Page Numbers: pp.1064-1070

Abstract

During asexual intraerythrocytic growth, Plasmodium falciparum utilizes hemoglobin obtained from the host red blood cell (RBC) as a nutrient source. Papain-like cysteine proteases, falcipains 2 and 3, have been reported to be involved in hemoglobin digestion and are targets of current antimalarial drug development efforts. However, their expression during gametocytogenesis, which is required for malaria parasite transmission, has not been studied. Many of the available antimalarials do not inhibit development of sexual stage parasites, and therefore, the persistence of gametocytes after drug treatment allows continued transmission of the disease. In the work reported here, incubation of stage V gametocytes with membrane-permeant cysteine protease inhibitor E64d significantly inhibited oocyst production (80 to 100%). The same conditions inhibited processing of gametocyte-surface antigen Pfs230 during gametogenesis but did not alter the morphology of the food vacuole in gametocytes, inhibit emergence, or block male exflagellation. E64d reduced the level of oocyst production more effectively than that reported previously for falcipain 1-knockout parasites, suggesting that falcipains 2 and 3 may also be involved in malaria parasite transmission. However, in this study only falcipain 3 and not falcipain 2 was found to be expressed in stage V gametocytes. Interestingly, during gametocytogenesis falcipain 3 was transported into the red blood cell and by stage V was localized in vesicles along the RBC surface, consistent with a role during gamete emergence. The ability of a membrane-permeant cysteine protease inhibitor to significantly reduce malaria parasite transmission suggests that future drug design should include evaluation of gametogenesis and sporogonic development.