Band 3 (also known as the anion exchanger, SLCA1, AE1) constitutes the major attachment site of the spectrin-based cytoskeleton to the erythrocyte's lipid bilayer and thereby contributes critically to the stability of the red cell membrane. During the intraerythrocytic stage of Plasmodium falciparum's lifecycle, band 3 becomes tyrosine phosphorylated in response to oxidative stress, leading to a decrease in its affinity for the spectrin/actin cytoskeleton and causing global membrane destabilization. Because this membrane weakening is hypothesized to facilitate parasite egress and the consequent dissemination of released merozoites throughout the bloodstream,wedecided to explore which tyrosine kinase inhibitors might block the kinase-induced membrane destabilization. We demonstrate here that multiple Syk kinase inhibitors both prevent parasiteinduced band 3 tyrosine phosphorylation and inhibit parasite-promoted membrane destabilization. We also show that the same Syk kinase inhibitors suppress merozoite egress near the end of the parasite's intraerythrocytic lifecycle. Because the entrapped merozoites die when prevented from escaping their host erythrocytes and because some Syk inhibitors have displayed long-term safety in human clinical trials, we suggest Syk kinase inhibitors constitute a promising class of antimalarial drugs that can suppress parasitemia by inhibiting a host target that cannot be mutated by the parasite to evolve drug resistance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology