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Free Radic Biol Med. 2012 Jan 15;52(2):527-36. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.11.008. Epub 2011 Nov 15.

New antimalarial indolone-N-oxides, generating radical species, destabilize the host cell membrane at early stages of Plasmodium falciparum growth: role of band 3 tyrosine phosphorylation.

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Department of Physiological, Biochemical, and Cell Sciences, University of Sassari, Sassari 07100, Italy.


Although indolone-N-oxide (INODs) genereting long-lived radicals possess antiplasmodial activity in the low-nanomolar range, little is known about their mechanism of action. To explore the molecular basis of INOD activity, we screened for changes in INOD-treated malaria-infected erythrocytes (Pf-RBCs) using a proteomics approach. At early parasite maturation stages, treatment with INODs at their IC(50) concentrations induced a marked tyrosine phosphorylation of the erythrocyte membrane protein band 3, whereas no effect was observed in control RBCs. After INOD treatment of Pf-RBCs we also observed: (i) accelerated formation of membrane aggregates containing hyperphosphorylated band 3, Syk kinase, and denatured hemoglobin; (ii) dose-dependent release of microvesicles containing the membrane aggregates; (iii) reduction in band 3 phosphorylation, Pf-RBC vesiculation, and antimalarial effect of INODs upon addition of Syk kinase inhibitors; and (iv) correlation between the IC(50) and the INOD concentrations required to induce band 3 phosphorylation and vesiculation. Together with previous data demonstrating that tyrosine phosphorylation of oxidized band 3 promotes its dissociation from the cytoskeleton, these results suggest that INODs cause a profound destabilization of the Pf-RBC membrane through a mechanism apparently triggered by the activation of a redox signaling pathway rather than direct oxidative damage.

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