Nima- and Aurora-related kinases of malaria parasites

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Jul;1834(7):1336-45. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2013.02.022. Epub 2013 Feb 24.


Completion of the life cycle of malaria parasite requires a succession of developmental stages which vary greatly with respect to proliferation status, implying a tightly regulated control of the parasite's cell cycle, which remains to be understood at the molecular level. Progression of the eukaryotic cell cycle is controlled by members of mitotic kinase of the families CDK (cyclin-dependent kinases), Aurora, Polo and NIMA. Plasmodium parasites possess cyclin-dependent protein kinases and cyclins, which strongly suggests that some of the principles underlying cell cycle control in higher eukaryotes also operate in this organism. However, atypical features of Plasmodium cell cycle organization and important divergences in the composition of the cell cycle machinery suggest the existence of regulatory mechanisms that are at variance with those of higher eukaryotes. This review focuses on several recently described Plasmodium protein kinases related to the NIMA and Aurora kinase families and discusses their functional involvement in parasite's biology. Given their demonstrated essential roles in the erythrocytic asexual cycle and/or sexual stages, these enzymes represent novel potential drug targets for antimalarial intervention aiming at inhibiting parasite replication and/or blocking transmission of the disease. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Inhibitors of Protein Kinases (2012).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antimalarials / pharmacology
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Malaria / prevention & control
  • NIMA-Related Kinase 1
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects
  • Plasmodium falciparum / enzymology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Protozoan Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*


  • Antimalarials
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Isoenzymes
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Aurora Kinases
  • NEK1 protein, human
  • NIMA-Related Kinase 1
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases