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Sci Rep. 2015 Oct 6;5:14694. doi: 10.1038/srep14694.

Targeting mosquito FREP1 with a fungal metabolite blocks malaria transmission.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Oklahoma, 101 Stephenson Parkway, Norman, OK 73019, USA.


Inhibiting Plasmodium development in mosquitoes will block malaria transmission. Fibrinogen-related protein 1 (FREP1) is critical for parasite infection in Anopheles gambiae and facilitates Plasmodium invasion in mosquitoes through interacting with gametocytes and ookinetes. To test the hypothesis that small molecules that disrupt this interaction will prevent parasites from infecting mosquitoes, we developed an ELISA-based method to screen a fungal extract library. We obtained a candidate fungal extract of Aspergillus niger that inhibited the interaction between FREP1 and P. falciparum infected cells by about 92%. The inhibition specificity was confirmed by immunofluorescence assays. Notably, feeding mosquitoes with the candidate fungal extract significantly inhibited P. falciparum infection in the midgut without cytotoxicity or inhibition of the development of P. falciparum gametocytes or ookinetes. A bioactive natural product that prevents FREP1 from binding to gametocytes or ookinetes was isolated and identified as P-orlandin. Importantly, the nontoxic orlandin significantly reduced P. falciparum infection intensity in mosquitoes. Therefore, disruption of the interaction between FREP1 and parasites effectively reduces Plasmodium infection in mosquitoes. Targeting FREP1 with small molecules is thus an effective novel approach to block malaria transmission.

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