NAD(P) transhydrogenase has vital non-mitochondrial functions in malaria parasite transmission

EMBO Rep. 2020 Mar 4;21(3):e47832. doi: 10.15252/embr.201947832. Epub 2020 Jan 17.


Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and its phosphorylated form (NADP) are vital for cell function in all organisms and form cofactors to a host of enzymes in catabolic and anabolic processes. NAD(P) transhydrogenases (NTHs) catalyse hydride ion transfer between NAD(H) and NADP(H). Membrane-bound NTH isoforms reside in the cytoplasmic membrane of bacteria, and the inner membrane of mitochondria in metazoans, where they generate NADPH. Here, we show that malaria parasites encode a single membrane-bound NTH that localises to the crystalloid, an organelle required for sporozoite transmission from mosquitos to vertebrates. We demonstrate that NTH has an essential structural role in crystalloid biogenesis, whilst its enzymatic activity is required for sporozoite development. This pinpoints an essential function in sporogony to the activity of a single crystalloid protein. Its additional presence in the apicoplast of sporozoites identifies NTH as a likely supplier of NADPH for this organelle during liver infection. Our findings reveal that Plasmodium species have co-opted NTH to a variety of non-mitochondrial organelles to provide a critical source of NADPH reducing power.

Keywords: malaria; oocyst; ookinete; sporozoite; transhydrogenase; transmission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Malaria / transmission*
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • NAD
  • NADP
  • NADP Transhydrogenases* / genetics


  • NAD
  • NADP
  • NADP Transhydrogenases