Molecular target identification of antimalarial drugs using proteomic and metabolomic approaches

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Virginia Tech


Malaria is a parasitic infectious disease that results in millions of clinical cases per year and accounts for approximately 1 million deaths annually. Because the parasite has developed resistance to all current antimalarials, new therapies are urgently needed. Purine and pyrimidine biosynthesis for DNA and RNA synthesis has been recognized as a source of therapeutic targets. Targeted metabolite profiling has aided in the understanding of several biological processes in the parasite besides drug discovery. Therefore, having a robust analytical platform to quantify the purines and pyrimidines is of a great value. For this purpose an ion pair reversed phase ultra-performance liquid chromatography in tandem with mass spectrometry method was developed and validated.

In addition, the apicoplast is an organelle present in the malaria parasite and other apicomplexan parasites. It was demonstrated that the apicoplast is essential for parasite's survival. The supply of isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate for isoprenoid biosynthesis is the sole function of this organelle in the asexual intraerythrocytic stages. Isoprenoid precursors are synthesized through the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway in the malaria parasite while humans utilize the mevalonate pathway. Therefore, the MEP pathway is a source of drug targets for drug development. Our group has identified MMV008138 as anti-apicoplast inhibitor through phenotypic screening. Preliminary data suggest that the molecular target of MMV008138 may be within the MEP pathway. We used proteomic and metabolomic approaches to identify the molecular target of MMV008138 to aid future medicinal chemistry to improve the efficacy of this inhibitor.



LC-MS, DARTS, Purines and Pyrimidines, Plasmodium falciparum, Non-Mevalonate pathway