Background: Malaria affects 200-300 million individuals per year worldwide. Plasmodium falciparum is the causative agent of the most severe and mortal type of malaria. The need for new antimalarials comes from the widespread resistance to those in current use. New antimalarial targets are required to increase chemical diversity and effectiveness of the drugs. The research for such new targets and drug chemotypes is aided by structure-based drug design. We present a model of the TBP-TFIIB complex from P. falciparum (pfTBP-pfTFIIB) and a detailed study of the interactions at the TBP-TFIIB interface.
Methods: The model was built using standard methodology, optimized energetically and evaluated structurally. We carried out an analysis of the interface considering its evolution, available experimental data on TBP and TFIIB mutants, and the main conserved and non-conserved interactions. To support the perspective of using this complex as a new target for rational antimalarial design, we present the comparison of the pfTBP-pfTFIIB interface with its human homolog.
Results: Despite the high residue conservation at the interface, we identified a potential region, composed of species-specific residues that can be used for rational antimalarial design.
Conclusions: Currently there are no antimalarial drugs targeted to stop the nuclear transcription process, a vital event for all replication stages of P. falciparum. Due to its absolute requirement in transcription initiation, we consider the pfTBP-pfTFIIB interface as a new potential target for novel antimalarial chemotypes.