Diverse Chemical Compounds Target Plasmodium falciparum Plasma Membrane Lipid Homeostasis

14 Jan 2019

Suyash Bhatnagar, Sezin Nicklas, Joanne M. Morrisey, Daniel E. Goldberg, and Akhil B. Vaidya 

ACS Infectious Diseases

DOI: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.8b00277

Lipid homeostasis is essential to the maintenance of life. We previously reported that disruptions of the parasite Na+ homeostasis via inhibition of PfATP4 resulted in elevated cholesterol within the parasite plasma membrane as assessed by saponin sensitivity. A large number of compounds have been shown to target the parasite Na+ homeostasis. We screened 800 compounds from the Malaria and Pathogen Boxes to identify chemotypes that disrupted the parasite plasma membrane lipid homeostasis. Here, we show that the compounds disrupting parasite Na+ homeostasis also induced saponin sensitivity, an indication of parasite lipid homeostasis disruption. Remarkably, 13 compounds were identified that altered the plasma membrane lipid composition independently of the Na+ homeostasis disruption. Further studies suggest that these compounds target the Plasmodium falciparum Niemann-Pick type C1-related (PfNCR1) protein, which is hypothesized to be involved in maintaining plasma membrane lipid composition. PfNCR1, like PfATP4, appears to be targeted by multiple chemotypes with the potential for drug discovery.

Read the full article on ACS Publications.