Author(s): Moneriz C, Mestres J, Bautista JM, Diez A, Puyet A
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Abstract Most drugs against malaria that are available or under development target a single process of the parasite infective cycle, favouring the appearance of resistant mutants which are easily spread in areas under chemotherapeutic treatments. Maslinic acid (MA) is a low toxic natural pentacyclic triterpene for which a wide variety of biological and therapeutic activities have been reported. Previous work revealed that Plasmodium falciparum erythrocytic cultures were inhibited by MA, which was able to hinder the maturation from ring to schizont stage and, as a consequence, prevent the release of merozoites and the subsequent invasion. We show here that MA effectively inhibits the proteolytic processing of the merozoite surface protein complex, probably by inhibition of PfSUB1. In addition, MA was also found to inhibit metalloproteases of the M16 family by a non-chelating mechanism, suggesting the possible hindrance of plasmodial metalloproteases belonging to that family, such as falcilysin and apicoplast peptide-processing proteases. Finally, in silico target screening was used to search for other potential binding targets that may have remained undetected. Among the targets identified, the method recovered two for which experimental activity could be confirmed, and suggested several putative new targets to which MA could have affinity. One of these unreported targets, phospholipase A2, was shown to be partially inhibited by MA. These results suggest that MA may behave as a multi-targeted drug against the intra-erythrocytic cycle of Plasmodium, providing a new tool to investigate the synergistic effect of inhibiting several unrelated processes with a single compound, a new concept in antimalarial research. © 2011 The Authors Journal compilation © 2011 FEBS.
This article was published in FEBS J
and referenced in Malaria Control & Elimination