Plasmodium falciparumglucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase 6-phosphogluconolactonase is a potential drug target


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Abstract

The malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum is exposed to substantial redox challenges during its complex life cycle. In intraerythrocytic parasites, haemoglobin breakdown is a major source of reactive oxygen species. Deficiencies in human glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, the initial enzyme in the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), lead to a disturbed redox equilibrium in infected erythrocytes and partial protection against severe malaria. In P. falciparum, the first two reactions of the PPP are catalysed by the bifunctional enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase 6-phosphogluconolactonase (PfGluPho). This enzyme differs structurally from its human counterparts and represents a potential target for drugs. In the present study we used epitope tagging of endogenous PfGluPho to verify that the enzyme localises to the parasite cytosol. Furthermore, attempted double crossover disruption of the PfGluPho gene indicates that the enzyme is essential for the growth of blood stage parasites. As a further step towards targeting PfGluPho pharmacologically, ellagic acid was characterised as a potent PfGluPho inhibitor with an IC50 of 76 nm. Interestingly, pro-oxidative drugs or treatment of the parasites with H2O2 only slightly altered PfGluPho expression or activity under the conditions tested. Furthermore, metabolic profiling suggested that pro-oxidative drugs do not significantly perturb the abundance of PPP intermediates. These data indicate that PfGluPho is essential in asexual parasites, but that the oxidative arm of the PPP is not strongly regulated in response to oxidative challenge.In Plasmodium falciparum, the first two reactions of the pentose phosphate pathway are catalysed by the bifunctional enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase 6-phosphogluconolactonase (PfGluPho). We were unable to knock out PfGluPho in blood stage parasites. We also showed that ellagic acid, which blocks Plasmodium growth, potently inhibits PfGluPho activity. Our data indicate PfGluPho is an essential enzyme and a potential drug target.

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