The antioxidative effect of de novo generated vitamin B6 in Plasmodium falciparum validated by protein interference

Biochem J. 2012 Apr 15;443(2):397-405. doi: 10.1042/BJ20111542.


The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is able to synthesize de novo PLP (pyridoxal 5'-phosphate), the active form of vitamin B6. In the present study, we have shown that the de novo synthesized PLP is used by the parasite to detoxify 1O2 (singlet molecular oxygen), a highly destructive reactive oxygen species arising from haemoglobin digestion. The formation of 1O2 and the response of the parasite were monitored by live-cell fluorescence microscopy, by transcription analysis and by determination of PLP levels in the parasite. Pull-down experiments of transgenic parasites overexpressing the vitamin B6-biosynthetic enzymes PfPdx1 and PfPdx2 clearly demonstrated an interaction of the two proteins in vivo which results in an elevated PLP level from 12.5 μM in wild-type parasites to 36.6 μM in the PfPdx1/PfPdx2-overexpressing cells and thus to a higher tolerance towards 1O2. In contrast, by applying the dominant-negative effect on the cellular level using inactive mutants of PfPdx1 and PfPdx2, P. falciparum becomes susceptible to 1O2. Our results demonstrate clearly the crucial role of vitamin B6 biosynthesis in the detoxification of 1O2 in P. falciparum. Besides the known role of PLP as a cofactor of many essential enzymes, this second important task of the vitamin B6 de novo synthesis as antioxidant emphasizes the high potential of this pathway as a target of new anti-malarial drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nitrogenous Group Transferases / genetics
  • Nitrogenous Group Transferases / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Perylene / analogs & derivatives
  • Perylene / pharmacology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation
  • Vitamin B 6 / biosynthesis*


  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Perylene
  • Vitamin B 6
  • cercosporin
  • Nitrogenous Group Transferases

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AJ871406
  • RefSeq/NP_703871