Severe malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum infection remains a serious threat to health worldwide and new therapeutic targets are highly desirable. Small molecule inhibitors of prenyl transferases, enzymes that catalyze the post-translational isoprenyl modifications of proteins, exhibit potent antimalarial activity. The antimalarial actions of prenyltransferase inhibitors indicate that protein prenylation is required for malaria parasite development. In this study, we used a chemical biology strategy to experimentally characterize the entire complement of prenylated proteins in the human malaria parasite. In contrast to the expansive mammalian and fungal prenylomes, we find that P. falciparum possesses a restricted set of prenylated proteins. The prenylome of P. falciparum is dominated by Rab GTPases, in addition to a small number of prenylated proteins that also appear to function primarily in membrane trafficking. Overall, we found robust experimental evidence for a total of only thirteen prenylated proteins in P. falciparum, with suggestive evidence for an additional two probable prenyltransferase substrates. Our work contributes to an increasingly complete picture of essential, post-translational hydrophobic modifications in blood-stage P. falciparum.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work is supported by the Children's Discovery Institute of Washington University and St. Louis Children's Hospital [MD-LI-2011-171 to A.R.O.J.], the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health [R01AI103280 to A.R.O.J.
© 2016 The Author (S).