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Screening the Medicines for Malaria Venture Pathogen Box for invasion and egress inhibitors of the blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum reveals several inhibitory compounds

Version 2 2024-06-03, 12:28
Version 1 2020-03-09, 08:47
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-03, 12:28 authored by MG Dans, GE Weiss, DW Wilson, BE Sleebs, BS Crabb, Tania De Koning-WardTania De Koning-Ward, PR Gilson
With emerging resistance to frontline treatments, it is vital that new drugs are identified to target Plasmodium falciparum. One of the most critical processes during parasites asexual lifecycle is the invasion and subsequent egress of red blood cells (RBCs). Many unique parasite ligands, receptors and enzymes are employed during egress and invasion that are essential for parasite proliferation and survival, therefore making these processes druggable targets. To identify potential inhibitors of egress and invasion, we screened the Medicines for Malaria Venture Pathogen Box, a 400 compound library against neglected tropical diseases, including 125 with antimalarial activity. For this screen, we utilised transgenic parasites expressing a bioluminescent reporter, nanoluciferase (Nluc), to measure inhibition of parasite egress and invasion in the presence of the Pathogen Box compounds. At a concentration of 2 µM, we found 15 compounds that inhibited parasite egress by >40% and 24 invasion-specific compounds that inhibited invasion by >90%. We further characterised 11 of these inhibitors through cell-based assays and live cell microscopy, and found two compounds that inhibited merozoite maturation in schizonts, one compound that inhibited merozoite egress, one compound that directly inhibited parasite invasion and one compound that slowed down invasion and arrested ring formation. The remaining compounds were general growth inhibitors that acted during the egress and invasion phase of the cell cycle. We found the sulfonylpiperazine, MMV020291, to be the most invasion-specific inhibitor, blocking successful merozoite internalisation within human RBCs and having no substantial effect on other stages of the cell cycle. This has significant implications for the possible development of an invasion-specific inhibitor as an antimalarial in a combination based therapy, in addition to being a useful tool for studying the biology of the invading parasite.



International Journal for Parasitology






Amsterdam, The Netherlands







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2020, The Author(s)