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J Med Chem. 1991 Oct;34(10):3029-35.

Peptide derivatives specific for a Plasmodium falciparum proteinase inhibit the human erythrocyte invasion by merozoites.

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Département de Biochimie, C.N.R.S., Orléans, France.


A specific proteinase of P. falciparum merozoites has been detected by using hydrosoluble fluorogenic peptidic substrates synthesized by classical peptide chemistry; their N-terminal end was acylated by a gluconoyl group that protects them from aminopeptidase degradation and increases their hydrosolubility, and their carboxylic end was substituted by a 3-amino-9-ethylcarbazole group. The sequence Val-Leu-Gly-Lys was found to be the most specific substrate. On this basis, reversible peptidic inhibitors were synthesized by substituting the C-terminal lysyl residue, at the proteolytic site, by different alkylamines and amino alcohols. The activity of these compounds, studied on the P. falciparum proteinase and in in vitro cultures, strongly suggests a specific effect of this peptidic sequence on the reinvasion process. The peptidic inhibitors do not impair the release of merozoites from schizonts, but selectively inhibit the invasion step leading to the formation of rings. Although the natural target of this enzyme is not yet known, these specific peptide inhibitors could lead to a new antimalarial approach.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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