Erythrocytic adenosine monophosphate as an alternative purine source in Plasmodium falciparum

J Biol Chem. 2008 Nov 21;283(47):32889-99. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M804497200. Epub 2008 Sep 17.


Plasmodium falciparum is a purine auxotroph, salvaging purines from erythrocytes for synthesis of RNA and DNA. Hypoxanthine is the key precursor for purine metabolism in Plasmodium. Inhibition of hypoxanthine-forming reactions in both erythrocytes and parasites is lethal to cultured P. falciparum. We observed that high concentrations of adenosine can rescue cultured parasites from purine nucleoside phosphorylase and adenosine deaminase blockade but not when erythrocyte adenosine kinase is also inhibited. P. falciparum lacks adenosine kinase but can salvage AMP synthesized in the erythrocyte cytoplasm to provide purines when both human and Plasmodium purine nucleoside phosphorylases and adenosine deaminases are inhibited. Transport studies in Xenopus laevis oocytes expressing the P. falciparum nucleoside transporter PfNT1 established that this transporter does not transport AMP. These metabolic patterns establish the existence of a novel nucleoside monophosphate transport pathway in P. falciparum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / chemistry
  • Adenosine Diphosphate / chemistry
  • Adenosine Monophosphate / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Chemical
  • Nucleosides / chemistry
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Purines / chemistry*
  • Xenopus laevis


  • Nucleosides
  • Purines
  • Adenosine Monophosphate
  • Adenosine Diphosphate
  • Adenosine
  • purine