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Trends Parasitol. 2007 Mar;23(3):112-21. Epub 2007 Feb 2.

Vitamin and cofactor biosynthesis pathways in Plasmodium and other apicomplexan parasites.

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University of Glasgow, Glasgow Biomedical Research Centre, Division of Infection and Immunity, Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology, 120 University Place, Glasgow G12 8TA, UK.


Vitamins are essential components of the human diet. By contrast, the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and related apicomplexan parasites synthesize certain vitamins de novo, either completely or in parts. The various biosynthesis pathways are specific to different apicomplexan parasites and emphasize the distinct requirements of these parasites for nutrients and growth factors. The absence of vitamin biosynthesis in humans implies that inhibition of the parasite pathways might be a way to interfere specifically with parasite development. However, the roles of biosynthesis and uptake of vitamins in the regulation of vitamin homeostasis in parasites needs to be established first. In this article, the procurement of vitamins B(1), B(5) and B(6) by Plasmodium and other apicomplexan parasites is discussed.

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