An iron-carboxylate bond links the heme units of malaria pigment

Andrew F.G. Slater, William J. Swiggard, Brian R. Orton, William D. Flitter, Daniel E. Goldberg, Anthony Cerami, Graeme B. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

477 Scopus citations


The intraerythrocytic malaria parasite uses homoglobin as a major nutrient source. Digestion of hemoglobin releases heme, which the parasite converts into an insoluble ocrystalline material called hemozoin or malaria pigment. We have purified hemozoin from the human malaria organism falciparum and have used infrared spectroscopy, absorption spectroscopy, and chemical synthesis to determine its structure. The molecule consists of an unusual of hemes linked between the central ferric ion of one and a carboxylate side-group oxygen of another. The are sequestered via this linkage into an insoluble product, providing a unique way for the malaria parasite to avoid the toxicity associated with soluble heme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-329
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991


  • Extended x-ray absorption fine structure
  • Hemoglobin
  • Hemozoin
  • Plasmodium


Dive into the research topics of 'An iron-carboxylate bond links the heme units of malaria pigment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this