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Mol Microbiol. 2004 Sep;53(5):1291-305.

Redox and antioxidant systems of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

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School of Life Sciences, Wellcome Trust Biocentre, University of Dundee, UK.


The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is highly adapted to cope with the oxidative stress to which it is exposed during the erythrocytic stages of its life cycle. This includes the defence against oxidative insults arising from the parasite's metabolism of haemoglobin which results in the formation of reactive oxygen species and the release of toxic ferriprotoporphyrin IX. Central to the parasite's defences are superoxide dismutases and thioredoxin-dependent peroxidases; however, they lack catalase and glutathione peroxidases. The vital importance of the thioredoxin redox cycle (comprising NADPH, thioredoxin reductase and thioredoxin) is emphasized by the confirmation that thioredoxin reductase is essential for the survival of intraerythrocytic P. falciparum. The parasites also contain a fully functional glutathione redox system and the low-molecular-weight thiol glutathione is not only an important intracellular thiol redox buffer but also a cofactor for several redox active enzymes such as glutathione S-transferase and glutaredoxin. Recent findings have shown that in addition to these cytosolic redox systems the parasite also has an important mitochondrial antioxidant defence system and it is suggested that lipoic acid plays a pivotal part in defending the organelle from oxidative damage.

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