Exploring metabolomic approaches to analyse phospholipid biosynthetic pathways in Plasmodium

Parasitology. 2010 Aug;137(9):1343-56. doi: 10.1017/S0031182009991934. Epub 2010 Jan 29.


SUMMARYPlasmodium falciparum, the agent responsible for malaria, is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite. For proliferation, differentiation and survival, it relies on its own protein-encoding genes, as well as its host cells for nutrient sources. Nutrients and subsequent metabolites are required by the parasites to support their high rate of growth and replication, particularly in the intra-erythrocytic stages of the parasite that are responsible for the clinical symptoms of the disease. Advances in mass spectrometry have improved the analysis of endogenous metabolites and enabled a global approach to identify the parasite's metabolites by the so-called metabolomic analyses. This level of analysis complements the genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic data already available and should allow the identification of novel metabolites, original pathways and networks of regulatory interactions within the parasite, and between the parasite and its hosts. The field of metabolomics is just in its infancy in P. falciparum, hence in this review, we concentrate on the available methodologies and their potential applications for deciphering important biochemical processes of the parasite, such as the astonishingly diverse phospholipid biosynthesis pathways. Elucidating the regulation of the biosynthesis of these crucial metabolites could help design of future anti-malarial drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biosynthetic Pathways
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Metabolomics / trends
  • Phospholipids / biosynthesis*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism


  • Phospholipids
  • Protozoan Proteins