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Exploring the folate pathway in Plasmodium falciparum



Exploring the folate pathway in Plasmodium falciparum



Acta Tropica 94(3): 191-206



As in centuries past, the main weapon against human malaria infections continues to be intervention with drugs, despite the widespread and increasing frequency of parasite populations that are resistant to one or more of the available compounds. This is a particular problem with the lethal species of parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which claims some two million lives per year as well as causing enormous social and economic problems. Amongst the antimalarial drugs currently in clinical use, the antifolates have the best defined molecular targets, namely the enzymes dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) and dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS), which function in the folate metabolic pathway. The products of this pathway, reduced folate cofactors, are essential for DNA synthesis and the metabolism of certain amino acids. Moreover, their formation and interconversions involve a number of other enzymes that have not as yet been exploited as drug targets. Antifolates are of major importance as they currently represent the only inexpensive regime for combating chloroquine-resistant malaria, and are now first-line drugs in a number of African countries. Aspects of our understanding of this pathway and antifolate drug resistance are reviewed here, with a particular emphasis on approaches to analysing the details of, and balance between, folate biosynthesis by the parasite and salvage of pre-formed folate from exogenous sources.

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Accession: 004156779

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 15845349

DOI: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2005.04.002


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