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Dihydroartemisinin–Ferriprotoporphyrin IX Adduct Abundance in Plasmodium falciparum Malarial Parasites and the Relationship to Emerging Artemisinin Resistance

Heller, Laura E., Goggins, Eibhlin, Roepe, Paul D.
Biochemistry 2018 v.57 no.51 pp. 6935-6945
Plasmodium falciparum, artemisinin, drugs, heme, models, mutants, parasites, pharmacology, phenotype, prediction
Previously (Heller, L. E., and Roepe, P. D. Quantification of Free Ferriprotoporphyrin IX Heme and Hemozoin for Artemisinin Sensitive versus Delayed Clearance Phenotype Plasmodium falciparum Malarial Parasites. Biochemistry, DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00959, preceding paper in this issue), we quantified free ferriprotoporphyrin IX (FPIX) heme abundance for control versus delayed clearance phenotype (DCP) intraerythrocytic Plasmodium falciparum malarial parasites. Because artemisinin drugs are activated by free FPIX, these data predict that the abundance of long-hypothesized toxic artemisinin drug–FPIX covalent adducts might differ for control versus DCP parasites. If so, this would have important repercussions for understanding the mechanism of the DCP, also known as emerging artemisinin resistance. To test these predictions, we studied in vitro formation of FPIX–dihydroartemisinin (DHA) adducts and then for the first time quantified the abundance of FPIX–DHA adducts formed within live P. falciparum versus the stage of intraerythrocytic development. Using matched isogenic parasite strains, we quantified the adduct for DCP versus control parasite strains and found that mutant PfK13 mediates lower adduct abundance for DCP parasites. The results suggest improved models for the molecular pharmacology of artemisinin-based antimalarial drugs and the molecular mechanism of the DCP.