Validation of the proteasome as a therapeutic target in plasmodium using an epoxyketone inhibitor with parasite-specific toxicity

Hao Li, Elizabeth L. Ponder, Martijn Verdoes, Kristijana H. Asbjornsdottir, Edgar Deu, Laura Edgington-Mitchell, Jeong Tae Lee, Christopher J. Kirk, Susan D. Demo, Kim C. Williamson, Matthew Bogyo

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55 Citations (Scopus)


The Plasmodium proteasome has been suggested to be a potential antimalarial drug target; however, toxicity of inhibitors has prevented validation of this enzyme in vivo. We report a screen of a library of 670 analogs of the recent US Food and Drug Administration-approved inhibitor, carfilzomib, to identify compounds that selectively kill parasites. We identified one compound, PR3, that has significant parasite killing activity in vitro but dramatically reduced toxicity in host cells. We found that this parasite-specific toxicity is not due to selective targeting of the Plasmodium proteasome over the host proteasome, but instead is due to a lack of activity against one of the human proteasome subunits. Subsequently, we used PR3 to significantly reduce parasite load in Plasmodium berghei infected mice without host toxicity, thus validating the proteasome as a viable antimalarial drug target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1535-1545
Number of pages11
JournalChemistry and Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

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