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PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e20047. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020047. Epub 2011 May 19.

Expression of a malarial Hsp70 improves defects in chaperone-dependent activities in ssa1 mutant yeast.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


Plasmodium falciparum causes the most virulent form of malaria and encodes a large number of molecular chaperones. Because the parasite encounters radically different environments during its lifecycle, many members of this chaperone ensemble may be essential for P. falciparum survival. Therefore, Plasmodium chaperones represent novel therapeutic targets, but to establish the mechanism of action of any developed therapeutics, it is critical to ascertain the functions of these chaperones. To this end, we report the development of a yeast expression system for PfHsp70-1, a P. falciparum cytoplasmic chaperone. We found that PfHsp70-1 repairs mutant growth phenotypes in yeast strains lacking the two primary cytosolic Hsp70s, SSA1 and SSA2, and in strains harboring a temperature sensitive SSA1 allele. PfHsp70-1 also supported chaperone-dependent processes such as protein translocation and ER associated degradation, and ameliorated the toxic effects of oxidative stress. By introducing engineered forms of PfHsp70-1 into the mutant strains, we discovered that rescue requires PfHsp70-1 ATPase activity. Together, we conclude that yeast can be co-opted to rapidly uncover specific cellular activities mediated by malarial chaperones.

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