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Open Access Research

Chaperone expression profiles correlate with distinct physiological states of Plasmodium falciparum in malaria patients

Rani Pallavi1, Pragyan Acharya1, Syama Chandran1, Johanna P Daily2 and Utpal Tatu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, 560012, Karnataka, India

2 Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1301 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, New York 10461, USA

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Malaria Journal 2010, 9:236  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-236

Published: 19 August 2010

Abstract

Background

Molecular chaperones have been shown to be important in the growth of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and inhibition of chaperone function by pharmacological agents has been shown to abrogate parasite growth. A recent study has demonstrated that clinical isolates of the parasite have distinct physiological states, one of which resembles environmental stress response showing up-regulation of specific molecular chaperones.

Methods

Chaperone networks operational in the distinct physiological clusters in clinical malaria parasites were constructed using cytoscape by utilizing their clinical expression profiles.

Results

Molecular chaperones show distinct profiles in the previously defined physiologically distinct states. Further, expression profiles of the chaperones from different cellular compartments correlate with specific patient clusters. While cluster 1 parasites, representing a starvation response, show up-regulation of organellar chaperones, cluster 2 parasites, which resemble active growth based on glycolysis, show up-regulation of cytoplasmic chaperones. Interestingly, cytoplasmic Hsp90 and its co-chaperones, previously implicated as drug targets in malaria, cluster in the same group. Detailed analysis of chaperone expression in the patient cluster 2 reveals up-regulation of the entire Hsp90-dependent pro-survival circuitries. In addition, cluster 2 also shows up-regulation of Plasmodium export element (PEXEL)-containing Hsp40s thought to have regulatory and host remodeling roles in the infected erythrocyte.

Conclusion

In all, this study demonstrates an intimate involvement of parasite-encoded chaperones, PfHsp90 in particular, in defining pathogenesis of malaria.