Plasmodium yoelii vitamin B5 pantothenate transporter candidate is essential for parasite transmission to the mosquito.
ABSTRACT: In nearly all non-photosynthetic cells, pantothenate (vitamin B5) transport and utilization are prerequisites for the synthesis of the universal essential cofactor Coenzyme A (CoA). Early studies showed that human malaria parasites rely on the uptake of pantothenate across the parasite plasma membrane for survival within erythrocytes. Recently, a P. falciparum candidate pantothenate transporter (PAT) was characterized by functional complementation in yeast. These studies revealed that PfPAT mediated survival of yeast cells in low pantothenate concentrations and restored sensitivity of yeast cells lacking pantothenate uptake to fenpropimorph. In addition, PfPAT was refractory to deletion in P. falciparum in vitro, but nothing is known about the in vivo functions of PAT in Plasmodium life cycle stages. Herein, we used gene-targeting techniques to delete PAT in Plasmodium yoelii. Parasites lacking PAT displayed normal asexual and sexual blood stage development compared to wild-type (WT) and WT-like p230p(-) parasites. However, progression from the ookinete to the oocyst stage and sporozoite formation were completely abolished in pat(-) parasites. These studies provide the first evidence for an essential role of a candidate pantothenate transport in malaria transmission to Anopheles mosquitoes. This will set the stage for the development of PAT inhibitors against multiple parasite life cycle stages.
Project description:The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is absolutely dependent on the acquisition of host pantothenate for its development within human erythrocytes. Although the biochemical properties of this transport have been characterized, the molecular identity of the parasite-encoded pantothenate transporter remains unknown. Here we report the identification and functional characterization of the first protozoan pantothenate transporter, PfPAT, from P. falciparum. We show using cell biological, biochemical, and genetic analyses that this transporter is localized to the parasite plasma membrane and plays an essential role in parasite intraerythrocytic development. We have targeted PfPAT to the yeast plasma membrane and showed that the transporter complements the growth defect of the yeast fen2? pantothenate transporter-deficient mutant and mediates the entry of the fungicide drug, fenpropimorph. Our studies in P. falciparum revealed that fenpropimorph inhibits the intraerythrocytic development of both chloroquine- and pyrimethamine-resistant P. falciparum strains with potency equal or better than that of currently available pantothenate analogs. The essential function of PfPAT and its ability to deliver both pantothenate and fenpropimorph makes it an attractive target for the development and delivery of new classes of antimalarial drugs.
Project description:Malaria parasites require pantothenate from both human and mosquito hosts to synthesize coenzyme A (CoA). Specifically, mosquito-stage parasites cannot synthesize pantothenate de novo or take up preformed CoA from the mosquito host, making it essential for the parasite to obtain pantothenate from mosquito stores. This makes pantothenate utilization an attractive target for controlling sexual stage malaria parasites in the mosquito. CoA is synthesized from pantothenate in a multi-step pathway initiated by the enzyme pantothenate kinase (PanK). In this work, we manipulated <i>A. stephensi</i> PanK activity and assessed the impact of mosquito PanK activity on the development of two malaria parasite species with distinct genetics and life cycles: the human parasite <i>Plasmodium falciparum</i> and the mouse parasite <i>Plasmodium yoelii yoelii</i> 17XNL. We identified two putative <i>A. stephensi</i> PanK isoforms encoded by a single gene and expressed in the mosquito midgut. Using both RNAi and small molecules with reported activity against human PanK, we confirmed that <i>A. stephensi</i> PanK manipulation was associated with corresponding changes in midgut CoA levels. Based on these findings, we used two small molecule modulators of human PanK activity (PZ-2891, compound 7) at reported and ten-fold EC<sub>50</sub> doses to examine the effects of manipulating <i>A. stephensi</i> PanK on malaria parasite infection success. Our data showed that oral provisioning of 1.3 nM and 13 nM PZ-2891 increased midgut CoA levels and significantly decreased infection success for both <i>Plasmodium</i> species. In contrast, oral provisioning of 62 nM and 620 nM compound 7 decreased CoA levels and significantly increased infection success for both <i>Plasmodium</i> species. This work establishes the <i>A. stephensi</i> CoA biosynthesis pathway as a potential target for broadly blocking malaria parasite development in anopheline hosts. We envision this strategy, with small molecule PanK modulators delivered to mosquitoes via attractive bait stations, working in concert with deployment of parasite-directed novel pantothenamide drugs to block parasite infection in the human host. In mosquitoes, depletion of pantothenate through manipulation to increase CoA biosynthesis is expected to negatively impact <i>Plasmodium</i> survival by starving the parasite of this essential nutrient. This has the potential to kill both wild type parasites and pantothenamide-resistant parasites that could develop under pantothenamide drug pressure if these compounds are used as future therapeutics for human malaria.
Project description:The metabolic machinery for the biosynthesis of Coenzyme A (CoA) from exogenous pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) has long been considered as an excellent target for the development of selective antimicrobials. Earlier studies in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum have shown that pantothenate analogs interfere with pantothenate phosphorylation and block asexual blood stage development. Although two eukaryotic-type putative pantothenate kinase genes (PanK1 and PanK2) have been identified in all malaria parasite species, their role in the development of Plasmodium life cycle stages remains unknown. Here we report on the genetic characterization of PanK1 and PanK2 in P. yoelii. We show that P. yoelii parasites lacking either PanK1 or PanK2 undergo normal asexual stages development and sexual stages differentiation, however they are severely deficient in ookinete, oocyst and sporozoite formation inside the mosquito vector. Quantitative transcriptional analyses in wild-type and knockout parasites demonstrate an important role for these genes in the regulation of expression of other CoA biosynthesis genes. Together, our data provide the first genetic evidence for the importance of the early steps of pantothenate utilization in the regulation of CoA biosynthesis and malaria parasite transmission to Anopheles mosquitoes.
Project description:The malaria-causing blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum requires extracellular pantothenate for proliferation. The parasite converts pantothenate into coenzyme A (CoA) via five enzymes, the first being a pantothenate kinase (PfPanK). Multiple antiplasmodial pantothenate analogues, including pantothenol and CJ-15,801, kill the parasite by targeting CoA biosynthesis/utilisation. Their mechanism of action, however, remains unknown. Here, we show that parasites pressured with pantothenol or CJ-15,801 become resistant to these analogues. Whole-genome sequencing revealed mutations in one of two putative PanK genes (Pfpank1) in each resistant line. These mutations significantly alter PfPanK activity, with two conferring a fitness cost, consistent with Pfpank1 coding for a functional PanK that is essential for normal growth. The mutants exhibit a different sensitivity profile to recently-described, potent, antiplasmodial pantothenate analogues, with one line being hypersensitive. We provide evidence consistent with different pantothenate analogue classes having different mechanisms of action: some inhibit CoA biosynthesis while others inhibit CoA-utilising enzymes.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Although nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) are usually part of first-line treatment regimens for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), their activity on Plasmodium liver stages remains unexplored. Additionally, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX), used for opportunistic infection prophylaxis in HIV-exposed infants and HIV-infected patients, reduces clinical episodes of malaria; however, TMP-SMX effect on Plasmodium liver stages requires further study.<h4>Methods</h4>We characterized NNRTI and TMP-SMX effects on Plasmodium liver stages in vivo using Plasmodium yoelii. On the basis of these results, we conducted in vitro studies assessing TMP-SMX effects on the rodent parasites P. yoelii and Plasmodium berghei and on the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.<h4>Results</h4>Our data showed NNRTI treatment modestly reduced P. yoelii liver stage parasite burden and minimally extended prepatent period. TMP-SMX administration significantly reduced liver stage parasite burden, preventing development of patent parasitemia in vivo. TMP-SMX inhibited development of rodent and P. falciparum liver stage parasites in vitro.<h4>Conclusions</h4>NNRTIs modestly affect liver stage Plasmodium parasites, whereas TMP-SMX prevents patent parasitemia. Because drugs that inhibit liver stages target parasites when they are present in lower numbers, these results may have implications for eradication efforts. Understanding HIV drug effects on Plasmodium liver stages will aid in optimizing treatment regimens for HIV-exposed and HIV-infected infected patients in malaria-endemic areas.
Project description:Coenzyme A (CoA) is a well-known cofactor that plays an essential role in many metabolic reactions in all organisms. In <i>Plasmodium falciparum</i>, the most deadly among <i>Plasmodium</i> species that cause malaria, CoA and its biosynthetic pathway have been proven to be indispensable. The first and rate-limiting reaction in the CoA biosynthetic pathway is catalyzed by two putative pantothenate kinases (<i>Pf</i>PanK1 and 2) in this parasite. Here we produced, purified, and biochemically characterized recombinant <i>Pf</i>PanK1 for the first time. <i>Pf</i>PanK1 showed activity using pantetheine besides pantothenate, as the primary substrate, indicating that CoA biosynthesis in the blood stage of <i>P. falciparum</i> can bypass pantothenate. We further developed a robust and reliable screening system to identify inhibitors using recombinant <i>Pf</i>PanK1 and identified four <i>Pf</i>PanK inhibitors from natural compounds.
Project description:Phosphoethanolamine methyltransferases (PMTs) catalyze the three-step methylation of phosphoethanolamine to form phosphocholine, a critical step in the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine in a select number of eukaryotes including human malaria parasites, nematodes and plants. Genetic studies in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum have shown that the methyltransferase PfPMT plays a critical function in parasite development and differentiation. The presence of PMT orthologs in other malaria parasites that infect humans and their absence in mammals make them ideal targets for the development of selective antimalarials with broad specificity against different Plasmodium species. Here we describe the X-ray structures and biochemical properties of PMT orthologs from Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium knowlesi and show that both enzymes are inhibited by amodiaquine and NSC158011, two drugs with potent antimalarial activity. Metabolic studies in a yeast mutant that relies on PkPMT or PvPMT for survival demonstrated that these compounds inhibit phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis from ethanolamine. Our structural and functional data provide insights into the mechanism of catalysis and inhibition of PMT enzymes and set the stage for a better design of more specific and selective antimalarial drugs.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Understanding the dynamics of malaria transmission in diverse endemic settings is key for designing and implementing locally adapted and sustainable control and elimination strategies. A parasitological and epidemiological survey was conducted in September-October 2012, as a baseline underlying a 3-year population-based longitudinal cohort study. The aim was to characterize malaria transmission patterns in two contrasting ecological rural sites in the Peruvian Amazon, Lupuna (LUP), a riverine environment, and Cahuide (CAH), associated with road-linked deforestation.<h4>Methods</h4>After a full population census, 1941 individuals 3 years and older (829 in LUP, 1112 in CAH) were interviewed, clinically examined and had a blood sample taken for the detection of malaria parasites by microscopy and PCR. Species-specific parasite prevalence was estimated overall and by site. Multivariate logistic regression models assessed risk factors for parasite infection by PCR, while SaTScan detected spatial clusters of PCR-positive individuals within each site. In addition, data from routine malaria surveillance in the period 2009-2012 were obtained.<h4>Results</h4>Parasite prevalence by PCR was higher in CAH than in LUP for Plasmodium vivax (6.2% vs. 3.9%) and for Plasmodium falciparum (2.6% vs. 1.2%). Among PCR-confirmed infections, asymptomatic (Asy) parasite carriers were always more common than symptomatic (Sy) infections for P. vivax (Asy/Sy ratio: 2/1 in LUP and 3.7/1 in CAH) and for P. falciparum (Asy/Sy ratio: 1.3/1 in LUP and 4/1 in CAH). Sub-patent (Spat) infections also predominated over patent (Pat) infections for both species: P. vivax (Spat/Pat ratio: 2.8/1 in LUP and 3.7/1 in CAH) and P. falciparum malaria (Spat/Pat ratio: 1.9/1 in LUP and 26/0 in CAH). For CAH, age, gender and living in a household without electricity were significantly associated with P. vivax infection, while only age and living in a household with electricity was associated with P. falciparum infection. For LUP, only household overcrowding was associated with P. falciparum infection. The spatial analysis only identified well-defined clusters of P. vivax and P. falciparum infected individuals in CAH. Reported malaria incidence indicated that malaria transmission has long occurred in LUP with primarily seasonal patterns, and confirmed a malaria outbreak in CAH since May 2012.<h4>Conclusions</h4>This parasitological and epidemiological baseline assessment demonstrates that malaria transmission and parasite prevalence is heterogeneous in the Peruvian Amazon, and influenced by local socio-demographics and ecological contexts. Riverine and road construction/deforestation contexts must be taken into account in order to carry out effective anti-malaria control and elimination efforts.
Project description:The post-translational addition of C-16 long chain fatty acids to protein cysteine residues is catalysed by palmitoyl-S-acyl-transferases (PAT) and affects the affinity of a modified protein for membranes and therefore its subcellular localisation. In apicomplexan parasites this reversible protein modification regulates numerous biological processes and specifically affects cell motility, and invasion of host cells by Plasmodium falciparum merozoites and Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites. Using inhibitor studies we show here that palmitoylation is key to transformation of zygotes into ookinetes during initial mosquito infection with P. berghei. We identify DHHC2 as a unique PAT mediating ookinete formation and morphogenesis. Essential for life cycle progression in asexual blood stage parasites and thus refractory to gene deletion analyses, we used promoter swap (ps) methodology to maintain dhhc2 expression in asexual blood stages but down regulate expression in sexual stage parasites and during post-fertilization development of the zygote. The ps mutant showed normal gamete formation, fertilisation and DNA replication to tetraploid cells, but was characterised by a complete block in post-fertilisation development and ookinete formation. Our report highlights the crucial nature of the DHHC2 palmitoyl-S-acyltransferase for transmission of the malaria parasite to the mosquito vector through its essential role for ookinete morphogenesis.
Project description:Blood-stage replication of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum occurs via schizogony, wherein daughter parasites are formed by a specialized cytokinesis known as segmentation. Here we identify a parasite protein, which we name P. falciparum Merozoite Organizing Protein (PfMOP), as essential for cytokinesis of blood-stage parasites. We show that, following PfMOP knockdown, parasites undergo incomplete segmentation resulting in a residual agglomerate of partially divided cells. While organelles develop normally, the structural scaffold of daughter parasites, the inner membrane complex (IMC), fails to form in this agglomerate causing flawed segmentation. In PfMOP-deficient gametocytes, the IMC formation defect causes maturation arrest with aberrant morphology and death. Our results provide insight into the mechanisms of replication and maturation of malaria parasites.