Macromolecular inhibitors of malarial cysteine proteases —An invited review


There are evidences indicating that cysteine proteases play an essential role in malaria parasites; therefore, an obvious area of investigation is the inhibition of these enzymes to treat malaria. Small cysteine protease inhibitors of malaria are well studied, but macromolecular nature of inhibitor is a new field to explore. In malarial cysteine proteases, there are macromolecular endogenous inhibitors playing important roles in regulation of the cysteine protease activity of parasite and host. Recent studies suggested that there are known and characterized endogenous inhibitors like falstatin present in P. falciparum, PbICP (inhibitor of cysteine protease in P. berghei), PyICP (inhibitor of cysteine protease in P. yoelli), and other macromolecular inhibitors which are the prodomain of enzyme itself regulating the activity of the mature enzyme. All the known macromolecular endogenous inhibitors are using specific loop-like structure to interact with malarial cysteine proteases. The majority of macromolecular inhibitors are competitive in nature, and block access to the active site of their target protease, but do not bind in a strictly substrate-like manner. They rather interact with the protease subsites and catalytic residues in a non-catalytically competent manner. In future, designing inhibitors based on these protein-protein interactions will be a new approach in the field of malaria. Since macromolecular inhibitors can gain potency through the burial of a large surface area and specificity through contacts with secondary binding sites critical for inhibition, and could be less prone to drug resistant mutation.

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Pandey, K. (2013) Macromolecular inhibitors of malarial cysteine proteases —An invited review. Journal of Biomedical Science and Engineering, 6, 885-895. doi: 10.4236/jbise.2013.69108.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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