A role for the protease falcipain 1 in host cell invasion by the human malaria parasite.
Greenbaum DC, Baruch A, Grainger M, Bozdech Z, Medzihradszky KF, Engel J, DeRisi J, Holder AA, Bogyo M.SciencScience. 2002Abstract:
Cysteine proteases of Plasmodium falciparum are required for survival of the malaria parasite, yet their specific cellular functions remain unclear. We used a chemical proteomic screen with a small-molecule probe to characterize the predominant cysteine proteases throughout the parasite life cycle. Only one protease, falcipain 1, was active during the invasive merozoite stage. Falcipain 1-specific inhibitors, identified by screening of chemical libraries, blocked parasite invasion of host erythrocytes, yet had no effect on normal parasite processes such as hemoglobin degradation. These results demonstrate a specific role for falcipain 1 in host cell invasion and establish a potential new target for antimalarial therapeutics.