The H89 cAMP-dependent protein kinase inhibitor blocks Plasmodium falciparum development in infected erythrocytes.
In Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of human malaria, the catalytic subunit gene of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (Pfpka-c) exists as a single copy. Interestingly, its expression appears developmentally regulated, being at higher levels in the pathogenic asexual stages than in the sexual forms of parasite that are responsible for transmission to the mosquito vector. Within asexual parasites, PfPKA activity can be readily detected in schizonts. Similar to endogenous PKA activity of noninfected red blood cells, the parasite enzyme can be stimulated by cAMP and inhibited by protein kinase inhibitor.Importantly, ex vivo treatment of infected erythrocytes with the classical PKA-C inhibitor H89 leads to a block in parasite growth. This suggests that the PKA activities of infected red blood cells are essential for parasite multiplication. Finally, structural considerations suggest that drugs targeting the parasite, rather than the erythrocyte enzyme, might be developed that could help in the fight against malaria.