Plasmodium sporozoites infect the liver and develop into exoerythrocytic merozoites that initiate blood-stage disease. The hepatocyte molecular pathways that permit or abrogate parasite replication and merozoite formation have not been thoroughly explored, and a deeper understanding may identify therapeutic strategies to mitigate malaria. Cellular inhibitor of apoptosis (cIAP) proteins regulate cell survival and are co-opted by intracellular pathogens to support development. Here, we show that cIAP1 levels are upregulated during Plasmodium liver infection and that genetic or pharmacological targeting of cIAPs using clinical-stage antagonists preferentially kills infected hepatocytes and promotes immunity. Using gene-targeted mice, the mechanism was defined as TNF-TNFR1-mediated apoptosis via caspases 3 and 8 to clear parasites. This study reveals the importance of cIAPs to Plasmodium infection and demonstrates that host-directed antimalarial drugs can eliminate liver parasites and induce immunity while likely providing a high barrier to resistance in the parasite.
Keywords: IAP antagonist; Plasmodium; SMAC mimetic; T cells; antibodies; birinapant; cIAP; immunity; inhibitor of apoptosis proteins; protection.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.