Isoprenoid biosynthesis in Plasmodium falciparum

Ann M. Guggisberg, Rachel E. Amthor, Audrey R. Odom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Malaria kills nearly 1 million people each year, and the protozoan parasite Plasmodium falciparum has become increasingly resistant to current therapies. Isoprenoid synthesis via the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway represents an attractive target for the development of new antimalarials. The phosphonic acid antibiotic fosmidomycin is a specific inhibitor of iso-prenoid synthesis and has been a helpful tool to outline the essential functions of isoprenoid biosynthesis in P. falciparum. Iso-prenoids are a large, diverse class of hydrocarbons that function in a variety of essential cellular processes in eukaryotes. In P. falciparum, isoprenoids are used for tRNA isopentenylation and protein prenylation, as well as the synthesis of vitamin E, caro-tenoids, ubiquinone, and dolichols. Recently, isoprenoid synthesis in P. falciparum has been shown to be regulated by a sugar phosphatase. We outline what is known about isoprenoid function and the regulation of isoprenoid synthesis in P. falciparum, in order to identify valuable directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1348-1359
Number of pages12
JournalEukaryotic Cell
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


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