Biomedical Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
The Aspartic Proteinases from
the Malaria Parasite: Structure
and Function of the Plasmepsins
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Florida
College of Medicine, PO 100245, Gainesville, FL 32610-0245, USA
11.1 Introduction
This chapter will describe features of a group of aspartic proteinase enzymes
encoded by the genome of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. The
known enzymes will be described in as much detail as currently available. The
emphasis will be on structure and the binding of inhibitors. Many topics will
not be covered in this chapter, including the synthesis of the compounds that
have been developed and tested against the parasite itself and/or against the
enzymes in biochemical assays. Overall, this field is still emerging as of mid-
2011, and requires more scientists and funding to develop faster.
11.1.1 Tropical Diseases and the Need for Drug Discovery
The tropical regions of the world are bounded by the Tropic of Cancer in the
northern hemisphere and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere
(approximately 24 degrees of latitude). This area is known for hot climates
and alternating periods of wet and dry weather. It is also known for a variety of
diseases that affect mankind, including malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV, espe-
cially in recent years. Because millions of people live in the tropical regions, the
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