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J Biol Chem. 2013 Jul 12;288(28):20558-67. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.482992. Epub 2013 May 31.

Identification and functional analysis of the primary pantothenate transporter, PfPAT, of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

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Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is absolutely dependent on the acquisition of host pantothenate for its development within human erythrocytes. Although the biochemical properties of this transport have been characterized, the molecular identity of the parasite-encoded pantothenate transporter remains unknown. Here we report the identification and functional characterization of the first protozoan pantothenate transporter, PfPAT, from P. falciparum. We show using cell biological, biochemical, and genetic analyses that this transporter is localized to the parasite plasma membrane and plays an essential role in parasite intraerythrocytic development. We have targeted PfPAT to the yeast plasma membrane and showed that the transporter complements the growth defect of the yeast fen2Δ pantothenate transporter-deficient mutant and mediates the entry of the fungicide drug, fenpropimorph. Our studies in P. falciparum revealed that fenpropimorph inhibits the intraerythrocytic development of both chloroquine- and pyrimethamine-resistant P. falciparum strains with potency equal or better than that of currently available pantothenate analogs. The essential function of PfPAT and its ability to deliver both pantothenate and fenpropimorph makes it an attractive target for the development and delivery of new classes of antimalarial drugs.


Drug Delivery; Malaria; Plasmodium; Transport; Yeast

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