Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.336, No.4, 1062-1068, 2005
A role of falcipain-2, principal cysteine proteases of Plasmodium falciparum in merozoite egression
The process of merozoite release in Plasmodium falciparum involves rupture of the parasitophorous vacuole membrane and erythrocyte plasma membrane. Through the use of protease inhibitors that halt the merozoite release, a number of parasite proteases, especially serine, aspartic, and cysteine proteases, have been implicated in the schizont rupture. To understand the precise role of cysteine proteases in the merozoite release, in the present study, we treated P. falciparian cultures with siRNAs corresponding to falcipain-1, falcipain-2, and falcipain-3, the three papain-family proteases of the parasite. Treatment of malaria parasites with either of the falcipain siRNAs considerably reduced parasite growth. Morphological examination of the siRNA treated parasite cultures revealed that most of the parasites in falcipain-2 siRNA treated cultures were arrested at schizont stage. Analysis of a transgenic P. falciparum line expressing chimeric-GFP upon treatment with falcipain-2 siRNA revealed block in the rupture of erythrocyte membrane at the time of merozoite egression. These results suggest that falcipain-2 is an important parasitic protease that participates in hemoglobin degradation and in the merozoite release. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.