Plasmodium falciparum heat shock proteins as antimalarial drug targets: An update

Cell Stress Chaperones. 2024 Mar 20;29(2):326-337. doi: 10.1016/j.cstres.2024.03.007. Online ahead of print.


Global efforts to eradicate malaria are threatened by multiple factors, particularly the emergence of antimalarial drug resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum. Heat shock proteins (HSPs), particularly P. falciparum HSPs (PfHSPs), represent promising drug targets due to their essential roles in parasite survival and virulence across the various life cycle stages. Despite structural similarities between human and malarial HSPs posing challenges, there is substantial evidence for subtle differences that could be exploited for selective drug targeting. This review provides an update on the potential of targeting various PfHSP families (particularly PfHSP40, PfHSP70, and PfHSP90) and their interactions within PfHSP complexes as a strategy to develop new antimalarial drugs. In addition, the need for a deeper understanding of the role of HSP complexes at the host-parasite interface is highlighted, especially heterologous partnerships between human and malarial HSPs, as this opens novel opportunities for targeting protein-protein interactions crucial for malaria parasite survival and pathogenesis.

Keywords: Antimalarial drugs; Heat shock proteins; Malaria; Molecular chaperones; Plasmodium falciparum; Protein folding.

Publication types

  • Review