Quantitative proteomics of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and its application to studies of development and inhibition

Niroshini Nirmalan, P. F G Sims, John E. Hyde

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The ability to measure accurately comparative levels of protein expression after drug challenge, metabolic stress, developmental programming or other perturbation represents one of the most important goals in post-genomics malaria research. We describe here a simple and robust quantitative methodology that is ideally suited to in vitro experiments designed to study changes in the proteome of the most important of the human parasites, the lethal species Plasmodium falciparum. The metabolic labelling technique we have developed uses parasite uptake of heavy isotope-containing isoleucine during normal growth followed by two-dimensional separation of individual proteins and mass spectrometry. The method is applicable to essentially each of the ≈5300 proteins of P. falciparum predicted from the completed genome sequence, permitting facile identification and accurate comparative quantification of labelled peptides from any of these proteins synthesized by in vitro cultures subjected to different stimuli. We demonstrate its application to the study of cell cycle changes, where we observe divergent patterns of protein and reported transcript levels indicative of modulation at the translational level. Our data also provide evidence for significant levels of post-translational modification in the parasite, and we measure differences among variants of phosphoethanolamine N-methyltransferase and actin-I across the cell cycle. We have also monitored parasite responses to equipotent doses of the clinical antimalarial inhibitors pyrimethamine and tetracycline and observed differential effects for a number of proteins unrelated to likely targets of these drugs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1187-1199
    Number of pages12
    JournalMolecular Microbiology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - May 2004


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