Malaria remains as one of the major public health problems worldwide. About 228 million cases occurred in 2018 only, with Africa bearing about 93% of the cases. Asymptomatic population carrying the various forms of the parasite Plasmodium in endemic areas plays an important role in the spread of the disease. To tackle this battle, more sensitive and precise detection kits for malaria are crucial to better control the number of new malaria cases.
The malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, was introduced into Hispaniola and other regions of the Americas through the slave trade spanning the 16th through the 19th centuries. During this period, more than 12 million Africans were brought across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and other regions of the Americas. Since malaria is holoendemic in West Africa, a substantial percentage of these individuals carried the parasite.
Circadian clocks coordinate organisms' activities with daily cycles in their environment. Parasites are subject to daily rhythms in the within-host environment, resulting from clock-control of host activities, including immune responses. Parasites also exhibit rhythms in their activities: the timing of within-host replication by malaria parasites is coordinated to host feeding rhythms. Precisely which host feeding-related rhythm(s) parasites align with and how this is achieved are unknown.
During the course of the asexual erythrocytic stage of development, Plasmodium spp. parasites undergo a series of morphological changes and induce alterations in the host cell. At the end of this stage, the parasites egress from the infected cell, after which the progeny invade a new host cell. These processes are rapid and occur in a time-dependent manner.
Spreading antimalarial resistance threatens effective treatment of malaria, an infectious disease caused by Plasmodium parasites. We identified a compound, BCH070, that inhibits asexual growth of multiple antimalarial-resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum (half maximal inhibitory concentration [IC50] = 1–2 µM), suggesting that BCH070 acts via a novel mechanism of action.
Salinipostin A (Sal A) is a potent antiplasmodial marine natural product with an undefined mechanism of action. Using a Sal A-derived activity-based probe, we identify its targets in the Plasmodium falciparum parasite. All of the identified proteins contain α/β serine hydrolase domains and several are essential for parasite growth. One of the essential targets displays a high degree of homology to human monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) and is able to process lipid esters including a MAGL acylglyceride substrate.
The epigenome of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, is associated with regulation of various essential processes in the parasite including control of proliferation during asexual development as well as control of sexual differentiation. The unusual nature of the epigenome has prompted investigations into the potential to target epigenetic modulators with novel chemotypes. Here, we explored the diversity within a library of 95 compounds, active against various epigenetic modifiers in cancerous cells, for activity against multiple stages of P. falciparum development.
Bromodomains (BRDs) bind to acetylated lysine residues, often on histones. The BRD proteins can contribute to gene regulation either directly through enzymatic activity or indirectly through recruitment of chromatin-modifying complexes or transcription factors. There is no evidence of direct orthologues of the Plasmodium falciparum BRD proteins (PfBDPs) outside the apicomplexans. PfBDPs are expressed during the parasite’s life cycle in both the human host’s blood and in the mosquito. PfBDPs could also prove to be promising targets for novel antimalarials, which are urgently required to address increasing drug resistance.
The efficient spread of malaria from infected humans to mosquitoes is a major challenge for malaria elimination initiatives. Gametocytes are the only Plasmodium life stage infectious to mosquitoes. Here, we summarize evidence for naturally acquired anti‐gametocyte immunity and the current state of transmission blocking vaccines (TBV). Although gametocytes are intra‐erythrocytic when present in infected humans, developing Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes may express proteins on the surface of red blood cells that elicit immune responses in naturally exposed individuals.
Malaria parasites are characterized by a complex life cycle that is accompanied by dynamic gene expression patterns. The factors and mechanisms that regulate gene expression in these parasites have been searched for even before the advent of next generation sequencing technologies. Functional genomics approaches have substantially boosted this area of research and have yielded significant insights into the interplay between epigenetic, transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms.