Positively-charged polyamines are essential molecules for the replication of eukaryotic cells and are particularly important for the rapid proliferation of parasitic protozoa and cancer cells. Unlike in Trypanosoma brucei, the inhibition of the synthesis of intermediate polyamine Putrescine caused only partial defect in malaria parasite blood-stage growth. In contrast, reducing the intracellular concentrations of Spermidine and Spermine by polyamine analogs caused significant defects in blood-stage growth in Plasmodium yoelii and P. falciparum. However, little is known about the synthesizing enzyme of Spermidine and Spermine in the malaria parasite. Herein, malaria parasite conserved Spermidine Synthase (SpdS) gene was targeted for deletion/complementation analyses by knockout/knock-in constructs in P. yoelii. SpdS was found to be essential for blood-stage growth. Live fluorescence imaging in blood-stages and sporozoites confirmed a specific mitochondrial localization, which is not known for any polyamine-synthesizing enzyme so far. This study identifies SpdS as an excellent drug targeting candidate against the malaria parasite, which is localized to the parasite mitochondrion.
Keywords: Drug target; Mitochondria; Plasmodium yoelii; Polyamine; Spermidine synthase.
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