Regulation of Plasmodium falciparum Development by Calcium-dependent Protein Kinase 7 (PfCDPK7)
Second messengers such as phosphoinositides and calcium are known to control diverse processes involved in the development of malaria parasites. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms and pathways need to be unraveled, which may be achieved by understanding the regulation of effectors of these second messengers. Calcium-dependent protein kinase (CDPK) family members regulate diverse parasitic processes. Because CDPKs are absent from the host, these kinases are considered as potential drug targets. We have dissected the function of an atypical CDPK from Plasmodium falciparum, PfCDPK7. The domain architecture of PfCDPK7 is very different from that of other CDPKs; it has a pleckstrin homology domain adjacent to the kinase domain and two calcium-binding EF-hands at its N terminus. We demonstrate that PfCDPK7 interacts with PI(4,5)P-2 via its pleckstrin homology domain, which may guide its subcellular localization. Disruption of PfCDPK7 caused a marked reduction in the growth of the blood stage parasites, as maturation of rings to trophozoites was markedly stalled. In addition, parasite proliferation was significantly attenuated. These findings shed light on an important role for PfCDPK7 in the erythrocytic asexual cycle of malaria parasites.