Author(s): Sigala PA, Goldberg DE
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Abstract For over a century, heme metabolism has been recognized to play a central role during intraerythrocytic infection by Plasmodium parasites, the causative agent of malaria. Parasites liberate vast quantities of potentially cytotoxic heme as a by-product of hemoglobin catabolism within the digestive vacuole, where heme is predominantly sequestered as inert crystalline hemozoin. Plasmodium spp. also utilize heme as a metabolic cofactor. Despite access to abundant host-derived heme, parasites paradoxically maintain a biosynthetic pathway. This pathway has been assumed to produce the heme incorporated into mitochondrial cytochromes that support electron transport. In this review, we assess our current understanding of the love-hate relationship between Plasmodium parasites and heme, we discuss recent studies that clarify several long-standing riddles about heme production and utilization by parasites, and we consider remaining challenges and opportunities for understanding and targeting heme metabolism within parasites.
This article was published in Annu Rev Microbiol
and referenced in Malaria Control & Elimination