Publications & Reports

The Medicines for Malaria Venture Malaria Box contains inhibitors of protein secretion in Plasmodium falciparum blood stage parasites.

Looker O, Dans MG, Bullen HE, Sleebs BE, Crabb BS, Gilson PR
Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia.


Plasmodium falciparum parasites which cause malaria, traffic hundreds of proteins into the red blood cells (RBCs) they infect. These exported proteins remodel their RBCs enabling host immune evasion through processes such as cytoadherence that greatly assist parasite survival. As resistance to all current antimalarial compounds is rising new compounds need to be identified and those that could inhibit parasite protein secretion and export would both rapidly reduce parasite virulence and ultimately lead to parasite death. To identify compounds that inhibit protein export we used transgenic parasites expressing an exported nanoluciferase reporter to screen the Medicines for Malaria Venture Malaria Box of 400 antimalarial compounds with mostly unknown targets. The most potent inhibitor identified in this screen was MMV396797 whose application led to export inhibition of both the reporter and endogenous exported proteins. MMV396797 mediated blockage of protein export and slowed the rigidification and cytoadherence of infected RBCs-modifications which are both mediated by parasite-derived exported proteins. Overall, we have identified a new protein export inhibitor in P. falciparum whose target though unknown, could be developed into a future antimalarial that rapidly inhibits parasite virulence before eliminating parasites from the host.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: Traffic
  • Published: 01/09/2022
  • Volume: 23
  • Issue: 9
  • Pagination: 442-461