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FEBS Lett. 2011 Dec 15;585(24):3985-91. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2011.11.005. Epub 2011 Nov 12.

Intraerythrocytic stages of Plasmodium falciparum biosynthesize vitamin E.

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Department of Parasitology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.


The 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphate and shikimate pathways were found to be active in Plasmodium falciparum and both can result in vitamin E biosynthesis in plants and algae. This study biochemically confirmed vitamin E biosynthesis in the malaria parasite, which can be inhibited by usnic acid. Furthermore, we found evidence pointing to a role of this vitamin in infected erythrocytes. These findings not only contribute to current understanding of P. falciparum biology but also reveal a pathway that could serve as a chemotherapeutic target.

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