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Mol Microbiol. 2004 Jul;53(1):55-63.

Subtilisin-like proteases of the malaria parasite.

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  • 1Division of Parasitology, National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, UK.


Proteases play critical roles in the life cycle of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium spp. Within the asexual erythrocytic cycle, responsible for the clinical manifestations of malaria, substantial interest has focused on the role of parasite serine proteases as a result of indications that they are involved in red blood cell invasion. Over the past 6 years, three Plasmodium genes encoding serine proteases of the subtilisin-like clan, or subtilases, have been identified. All are expressed in the asexual blood stages and, in at least two cases, the gene products localize to secretory organelles of the invasive merozoite. They may have potential as novel drug targets. Here, we review progress in our understanding of the maturation, specificity, structure and function of these Plasmodium subtilases.

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