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Chemogenomic Profiling of a Plasmodium falciparum Transposon Mutant Library Reveals Shared Effects of Dihydroartemisinin and Bortezomib on Lipid Metabolism and Exported Proteins.

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Pires, Camilla Valente  ORCID logo
Oberstaller, Jenna 
Wang, Chengqi 
Casandra, Debora 
Zhang, Min 


The antimalarial activity of the frontline drug artemisinin involves generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) leading to oxidative damage of parasite proteins. To achieve homeostasis and maintain protein quality control in the overwhelmed parasite, the ubiquitin-proteasome system kicks in. Even though molecular markers for artemisinin resistance like pfkelch13 have been identified, the intricate network of mechanisms driving resistance remains to be elucidated. Here, we report a forward genetic screening strategy that enables a broader identification of genetic factors responsible for altering sensitivity to dihydroartemisinin (DHA) and a proteasome inhibitor, bortezomib (BTZ). Using a library of isogenic piggyBac mutants in P. falciparum, we defined phenotype-genotype associations influencing drug responses and highlighted shared mechanisms between the two processes, which mainly included proteasome-mediated degradation and the lipid metabolism genes. Additional transcriptomic analysis of a DHA/BTZ-sensitive piggyBac mutant showed it is possible to find differences between the two response mechanisms on the specific components for regulation of the exportome. Our results provide further insight into the molecular mechanisms of antimalarial drug resistance. IMPORTANCE Malaria control is seriously threatened by the emergence and spread of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to the leading antimalarial, artemisinin. The potent killing activity of artemisinin results from oxidative damage unleashed by free heme activation released by hemoglobin digestion. Although the ubiquitin-proteasome system is considered critical for parasite survival of this toxicity, the diverse genetic changes linked to artemisinin resistance are complex and, so far, have not included the ubiquitin-proteasome system. In this study, we use a systematic forward genetic approach by screening a library of P. falciparum random piggyBac mutants to decipher the genetic factors driving malaria parasite responses to the oxidative stress caused by antimalarial drugs. This study compares phenotype-genotype associations influencing dihydroartemisinin responses with the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib to delineate the role of ubiquitin-proteasome system. Our study highlights shared and unique pathways from the complex array of molecular processes critical for P. falciparum survival resulting from the oxidative damage of artemisinin.



Plasmodium falciparum, chemogenomics, drug profiles, malaria, Humans, Plasmodium falciparum, Antimalarials, Bortezomib, Lipid Metabolism, Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex, Proteasome Inhibitors, Protozoan Proteins, Artemisinins, Malaria, Falciparum, Malaria, Drug Resistance, Ubiquitin

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Microbiol Spectr

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American Society for Microbiology
NIH (via University Of South Florida) (PTE Subaward No:6408-1145-00-B)