Targetting protein PfPKG in P falciparum can help stop Malaria: Scientists

Scientists discovered that the protein plays a central role in regulating biochemical pathways in P falciparum parasite, the most virulent species of human malaria parasites.

Created On: Jul 8, 2015 11:01 ISTModified On: Jul 8, 2015 16:04 IST

Scientists belonging to the University of Leicester and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on 7 July 2015 published a research article that revealed the central role of Protein kinase (PfPKG) in regulating biochemical pathways in P falciparum parasite.

The discovery was published in the research article titled Phosphoproteomics reveals malaria parasite Protein Kinase G as a signalling hub regulating egress and invasion in the Nature Communications journal.

As per the scientists, the discovery would help in developing future anti-malarial drugs that are precisely designed to kill the parasite but with limited toxicity, hence, making them safe enough to be used by children and pregnant women.

Role of PfPKG in P falciparum

Plasmodium falciparum is the most virulent species of human malaria parasites. In these parasites Plasmodium falciparum cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PfPKG) acts as a signalling hub that plays a central role in a number of core parasite processes including in the development of both asexual and sexual stages.

PfPKG is also reported to be important in maintaining elevated calcium levels in the parasite, possibly through the regulation of phosphoinositide biosynthesis, that are necessary for motility (mobility of unicellular organisms) in the human blood vessels and egress (movement) of the parasite from red blood cells (RBCs).

About the study

The research was jointly led by David A Baker and Andrew B Tobin and involved Indian scientist Dr Mahmood Alam, who hails from Jharkhand, among others.

For the study, the scientists employed state-of-the-art Phosphoproteomics technology. The technology identifies, catalogues, and characterizes proteins containing a phosphate group.

The research was funded by UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust.

While the MRC is a publicly funded government agency responsible for co-ordinating and funding medical research in the UK, the London-based Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation.

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