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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2006 Jul;30(4):596-630.

Metabolic maps and functions of the Plasmodium mitochondrion.

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Plant Cell Biology Research Centre, School of Botany, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


The mitochondrion of Plasmodium species is a validated drug target. However, very little is known about the functions of this organelle. In this review, we utilize data available from the Plasmodium falciparum genome sequencing project to piece together putative metabolic pathways that occur in the parasite, comparing this with the existing biochemical and cell biological knowledge. The Plasmodium mitochondrion contains both conserved and unusual features, including an active electron transport chain and many of the necessary enzymes for coenzyme Q and iron-sulphur cluster biosynthesis. It also plays an important role in pyrimidine metabolism. The mitochondrion participates in an unusual hybrid haem biosynthesis pathway, with enzymes localizing in both the mitochondrion and plastid organelles. The function of the tricarboxylic acid cycle in the mitochondrion is unclear. We discuss directions for future research into this fascinating, yet enigmatic, organelle.

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