The Pathogen Box

Catalysing neglected disease drug discovery

Diverse antimalarials from whole-cell phenotypic screens disrupt malaria parasite ion and volume homeostasis

11 June 2018

Adelaide S. M. Dennis, James E. O. Rosling, Adele M. Lehane & Kiaran Kirk 

Scientific Reports

doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-26819-1


Four hundred structurally diverse drug-like compounds comprising the Medicines for Malaria Venture's 'Pathogen Box' were screened for their effect on a range of physiological parameters in asexual blood-stage malaria (Plasmodium falciparum) parasites. Eleven of these compounds were found to perturb parasite Na+, pH and volume in a manner consistent with inhibition of the putative Na+ efflux P-type ATPase PfATP4. All eleven compounds fell within the subset of 125 compounds included in the Pathogen Box on the basis of their having been identified as potent inhibitors of the growth of asexual blood-stage P. falciparum parasites. All eleven compounds inhibited the Na+-dependent ATPase activity of parasite membranes and showed reduced efficacy against parasites carrying mutations in PfATP4. This study increases the number of chemically diverse structures known to show a 'PfATP4-associated' phenotype, and adds to emerging evidence that a high proportion (7-9%) of the structurally diverse antimalarial compounds identified in whole cell phenotypic screens share the same mechanism of action, exerting their antimalarial effect via an interaction with PfATP4.

View the full article on Nature's website.