Imperial College London

Professor Jake Baum

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Professor of Cell Biology and Infectious Diseases
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 5420jake.baum Website

 
 
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Location

 

609Sir Alexander Fleming BuildingSouth Kensington Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
to

91 results found

Knuepfer E, Wright KE, Kumar Prajapati S, Rawlinson TA, Mohring F, Koch M, Lyth OR, Howell SA, Villasis E, Snijders AP, Moon RW, Draper SJ, Rosanas-Urgell A, Higgins MK, Baum J, Holder AAet al., 2019, Divergent roles for the RH5 complex components, CyRPA and RIPR in human-infective malaria parasites., PLoS Pathog, Vol: 15

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites, which invade and replicate in erythrocytes. For Plasmodium falciparum, the major cause of severe malaria in humans, a heterotrimeric complex comprised of the secreted parasite proteins, PfCyRPA, PfRIPR and PfRH5 is essential for erythrocyte invasion, mediated by the interaction between PfRH5 and erythrocyte receptor basigin (BSG). However, whilst CyRPA and RIPR are present in most Plasmodium species, RH5 is found only in the small Laverania subgenus. Existence of a complex analogous to PfRH5-PfCyRPA-PfRIPR targeting BSG, and involvement of CyRPA and RIPR in invasion, however, has not been addressed in non-Laverania parasites. Here, we establish that unlike P. falciparum, P. knowlesi and P. vivax do not universally require BSG as a host cell invasion receptor. Although we show that both PkCyRPA and PkRIPR are essential for successful invasion of erythrocytes by P. knowlesi parasites in vitro, neither protein forms a complex with each other or with an RH5-like molecule. Instead, PkRIPR is part of a different trimeric protein complex whereas PkCyRPA appears to function without other parasite binding partners. It therefore appears that in the absence of RH5, outside of the Laverania subgenus, RIPR and CyRPA have different, independent functions crucial for parasite survival.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Malpartida-Cardenas K, Miscourides N, Rodriguez-Manzano J, Yu LS, Baum J, Georgiou Pet al., 2019, Quantitative and rapid Plasmodium falciparum malaria diagnosis and artemisinin-resistance detection using a CMOS Lab-on-Chip platform

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Early and accurate diagnosis of malaria and drug-resistance is essential to effective disease management. Available rapid malaria diagnostic tests present limitations in analytical sensitivity, drug-resistant testing and/or quantification. Conversely, diagnostic methods based on nucleic acid amplification stepped forwards owing to their high sensitivity, specificity and robustness. Nevertheless, these methods commonly rely on optical measurements and complex instrumentation which limit their applicability in resource-poor, point-of-care settings. This paper reports the specific, quantitative and fully-electronic detection of <jats:italic>Plas-modium falciparum</jats:italic>, the predominant malaria-causing parasite worldwide, using a Lab-on-Chip platform developed in-house. Furthermore, we demonstrate on-chip detection of C580Y, the most prevalent single-nucleotide polymorphism associated to artemisinin-resistant malaria. Real-time non-optical DNA sensing is facilitated using Ion-Sensitive Field-Effect Transistors, fabricated in unmodified complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor technology, coupled with loop-mediated isothermal amplification. This work holds significant potential for the development of a fully portable and quantitative malaria diagnostic that can be used as a rapid point-of-care test.</jats:p>

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Baragaña B, Forte B, Choi R, Nakazawa Hewitt S, Bueren-Calabuig JA, Pisco JP, Peet C, Dranow DM, Robinson DA, Jansen C, Norcross NR, Vinayak S, Anderson M, Brooks CF, Cooper CA, Damerow S, Delves M, Dowers K, Duffy J, Edwards TE, Hallyburton I, Horst BG, Hulverson MA, Ferguson L, Jiménez-Díaz MB, Jumani RS, Lorimer DD, Love MS, Maher S, Matthews H, McNamara CW, Miller P, O'Neill S, Ojo KK, Osuna-Cabello M, Pinto E, Post J, Riley J, Rottmann M, Sanz LM, Scullion P, Sharma A, Shepherd SM, Shishikura Y, Simeons FRC, Stebbins EE, Stojanovski L, Straschil U, Tamaki FK, Tamjar J, Torrie LS, Vantaux A, Witkowski B, Wittlin S, Yogavel M, Zuccotto F, Angulo-Barturen I, Sinden R, Baum J, Gamo F-J, Mäser P, Kyle DE, Winzeler EA, Myler PJ, Wyatt PG, Floyd D, Matthews D, Sharma A, Striepen B, Huston CD, Gray DW, Fairlamb AH, Pisliakov AV, Walpole C, Read KD, Van Voorhis WC, Gilbert IHet al., 2019, Lysyl-tRNA synthetase as a drug target in malaria and cryptosporidiosis., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Malaria and cryptosporidiosis, caused by apicomplexan parasites, remain major drivers of global child mortality. New drugs for the treatment of malaria and cryptosporidiosis, in particular, are of high priority; however, there are few chemically validated targets. The natural product cladosporin is active against blood- and liver-stage Plasmodium falciparum and Cryptosporidium parvum in cell-culture studies. Target deconvolution in P. falciparum has shown that cladosporin inhibits lysyl-tRNA synthetase (PfKRS1). Here, we report the identification of a series of selective inhibitors of apicomplexan KRSs. Following a biochemical screen, a small-molecule hit was identified and then optimized by using a structure-based approach, supported by structures of both PfKRS1 and C. parvum KRS (CpKRS). In vivo proof of concept was established in an SCID mouse model of malaria, after oral administration (ED90 = 1.5 mg/kg, once a day for 4 d). Furthermore, we successfully identified an opportunity for pathogen hopping based on the structural homology between PfKRS1 and CpKRS. This series of compounds inhibit CpKRS and C. parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis in culture, and our lead compound shows oral efficacy in two cryptosporidiosis mouse models. X-ray crystallography and molecular dynamics simulations have provided a model to rationalize the selectivity of our compounds for PfKRS1 and CpKRS vs. (human) HsKRS. Our work validates apicomplexan KRSs as promising targets for the development of drugs for malaria and cryptosporidiosis.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Yahiya S, Rueda-Zubiaurre A, Delves MJ, Fuchter MJ, Baum Jet al., 2019, The antimalarial screening landscape-looking beyond the asexual blood stage., Curr Opin Chem Biol, Vol: 50, Pages: 1-9

In recent years, the research agenda to tackle global morbidity and mortality from malaria disease has shifted towards innovation, in the hope that efforts at the frontiers of scientific research may re-invigorate gains made towards eradication. Discovery of new antimalarial drugs with novel chemotypes or modes of action lie at the heart of these efforts. There is a particular interest in drug candidates that target stages of the malaria parasite lifecycle beyond the symptomatic asexual blood stages. This is especially important given the spectre of emerging drug resistance to all current frontline antimalarials. One approach gaining increased interest is the potential of designing novel drugs that target parasite passage from infected individual to feeding mosquito and back again. Action of such therapeutics is geared much more at the population level rather than just concerned with the infected individual. The search for novel drugs active against these stages has been helped by improvements to in vitro culture of transmission and pre-erythrocytic parasite lifecycle stages, robotic automation and high content imaging, methodologies that permit the high-throughput screening (HTS) of compound libraries for drug discovery. Here, we review recent advances in the antimalarial screening landscape, focussed on transmission blocking as a key aim for drug-treatment campaigns of the future.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Malpartida-Cardenas K, Rodriguez-Manzano J, Yu L-S, Delves M, Nguon C, Chotivanich K, Baum J, Georgiou Pet al., 2018, Allele-specific isothermal amplification method using novel unmodified self-stabilizing competitive primers, Analytical Chemistry, Vol: 90, Pages: 11972-11980, ISSN: 0003-2700

Rapid and specific detection of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) related to drug resistance in infectious diseases is crucial for accurate prognostics, therapeutics and disease management at point-of-care. Here, we present a novel amplification method and provide universal guidelines for the detection of SNPs at isothermal conditions. This method, called USS-sbLAMP, consists of SNP-based loop-mediated isothermal amplification (sbLAMP) primers and unmodified self-stabilizing (USS) competitive primers that robustly delay or prevent unspecific amplification. Both sets of primers are incorporated into the same reaction mixture, but always targeting different alleles; one set specific to the wild type allele and the other to the mutant allele. The mechanism of action relies on thermodynamically favored hybridization of totally complementary primers, enabling allele-specific amplification. We successfully validate our method by detecting SNPs, C580Y and Y493H, in the Plasmodium falciparum kelch 13 gene that are responsible for resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapies currently used globally in the treatment of malaria. USS-sbLAMP primers can efficiently discriminate between SNPs with high sensitivity (limit of detection of 5 × 101 copies per reaction), efficiency, specificity and rapidness (<35 min) with the capability of quantitative measurements for point-of-care diagnosis, treatment guidance, and epidemiological reporting of drug-resistance.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Fang H, Gomes AR, Klages N, Pino P, Maco B, Walker EM, Zenonos ZA, Angrisano F, Baum J, Doerig C, Baker DA, Billker O, Brochet Met al., 2018, Epistasis studies reveal redundancy among calcium-dependent protein kinases in motility and invasion of malaria parasites, Nature Communications, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2041-1723

In malaria parasites, evolution of parasitism has been linked to functional optimisation. Despite this optimisation, most members of a calcium-dependent protein kinase (CDPK) family show genetic redundancy during erythrocytic proliferation. To identify relationships between phospho-signalling pathways, we here screen 294 genetic interactions among protein kinases in Plasmodium berghei. This reveals a synthetic negative interaction between a hypomorphic allele of the protein kinase G (PKG) and CDPK4 to control erythrocyte invasion which is conserved in P. falciparum. CDPK4 becomes critical when PKG-dependent calcium signals are attenuated to phosphorylate proteins important for the stability of the inner membrane complex, which serves as an anchor for the acto-myosin motor required for motility and invasion. Finally, we show that multiple kinases functionally complement CDPK4 during erythrocytic proliferation and transmission to the mosquito. This study reveals how CDPKs are wired within a stage-transcending signalling network to control motility and host cell invasion in malaria parasites.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Delves M, Miguel-Blanco C, Matthews H, Molina I, Ruecker A, Yahiya S, Straschil U, Abraham M, Leon-Diaz ML, Fischer O, Zubiaurre A, Brandt J, Cortes A, Barnard A, Fuchter M, Calderon F, Winzeler E, Sinden R, Herreros E, Gamo FJ, Baum Jet al., 2018, A high throughput screen for next-generation leads targeting malaria parasite transmission, Nature Communications, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2041-1723

Spread of parasite resistance to artemisinin threatens current frontline antimalarial therapies, highlighting the need for new drugs with alternative modes of action. Since only 0.2–1% of asexual parasites differentiate into sexual, transmission-competent forms, targeting this natural bottleneck provides a tangible route to interrupt disease transmission and mitigate resistance selection. Here we present a high-throughput screen of gametogenesis against a ~70,000 compound diversity library, identifying seventeen drug-like molecules that target transmission. Hit molecules possess varied activity profiles including male-specific, dual acting male–female and dual-asexual-sexual, with one promising N-((4-hydroxychroman-4-yl)methyl)-sulphonamide scaffold found to have sub-micromolar activity in vitro and in vivo efficacy. Development of leads with modes of action focussed on the sexual stages of malaria parasite development provide a previously unexplored base from which future therapeutics can be developed, capable of preventing parasite transmission through the population.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Witmer K, Sherrard-Smith E, Straschil U, Tunnicliff M, Baum J, Delves Met al., 2018, An inexpensive open source 3D printed membrane feeder for human malaria transmission studies, Malaria Journal, Vol: 17, ISSN: 1475-2875

BackgroundThe study of malaria transmission requires the experimental infection of mosquitoes with Plasmodium gametocytes. In the laboratory, this is achieved using artificial membrane feeding apparatus that simulate body temperature and skin of the host, and so permit mosquito feeding on reconstituted gametocyte-containing blood. Membrane feeders either use electric heating elements or complex glass chambers to warm the infected blood; both of which are expensive to purchase and can only be sourced from a handful of specialized companies. Presented and tested here is a membrane feeder that can be inexpensively printed using 3D-printing technology.ResultsUsing the Plasmodium falciparum laboratory strain NF54, three independent standard membrane feeding assays (SMFAs) were performed comparing the 3D-printed feeder against a commercial glass feeder. Exflagellation rates did not differ between the two feeders. Furthermore, no statistically significant difference was found in the oocyst load nor oocyst intensity of Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes (mean oocyst range 1.3–6.2 per mosquito; infection prevalence range 41–79%).ConclusionsOpen source provision of the design files of the 3D-printed feeder will facilitate a wider range of laboratories to perform SMFAs in laboratory and field settings, and enable them to freely customize the design to their own requirements.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Lyth O, Vizcay-Barrena G, Wright K, Haase S, Mohring F, Najer A, Henshall I, Ashdown G, Bannister L, Drew D, Beeson J, Fleck R, Moon R, Wilson D, Baum Jet al., 2018, Cellular dissection of malaria parasite invasion of human erythrocytes using viable Plasmodium knowlesi merozoites, Scientific Reports, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2045-2322

Plasmodium knowlesi, a zoonotic parasite causing severe-to-lethal malaria disease in humans, has only recently been adapted to continuous culture with human red blood cells (RBCs). In comparison with the most virulent human malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, there are, however, few cellular tools available to study its biology, in particular direct investigation of RBC invasion by blood-stage P. knowlesi merozoites. This leaves our current understanding of biological differences across pathogenic Plasmodium spp. incomplete. Here, we report a robust method for isolating viable and invasive P. knowlesi merozoites to high purity and yield. Using this approach, we present detailed comparative dissection of merozoite invasion (using a variety of microscopy platforms) and direct assessment of kinetic differences between knowlesi and falciparum merozoites. We go on to assess the inhibitory potential of molecules targeting discrete steps of invasion in either species via a quantitative invasion inhibition assay, identifying a class of polysulfonate polymer able to efficiently inhibit invasion in both, providing a foundation for pan-Plasmodium merozoite inhibitor development. Given the close evolutionary relationship between P. knowlesi and P. vivax, the second leading cause of malaria-related morbidity, this study paves the way for inter-specific dissection of invasion by all three major pathogenic malaria species.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Lubin AS, Zubiaurre AR, Matthews H, Baumann H, Fisher FR, Morales-Sanfrutos J, Hadavizadeh KS, Nardella F, Tate EW, Baum J, Scherf A, Fuchter MJet al., 2018, Development of a photo-crosslinkable diaminoquinazoline inhibitor for target identification in plasmodium falciparum, ACS Infectious Diseases, Vol: 4, Pages: 523-530, ISSN: 2373-8227

Diaminoquinazolines represent a privileged scaffold for antimalarial discovery, including use as putative Plasmodium histone lysine methyltransferase inhibitors. Despite this, robust evidence for their molecular targets is lacking. Here we report the design and development of a small-molecule photo-crosslinkable probe to investigate the targets of our diaminoquinazoline series. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our designed probe for photoaffinity labelling of Plasmodium lysates and identify similarities between the target profiles of the probe and the representative diaminoquinazoline BIX-01294. Initial pull-down proteomics experiments identified 104 proteins from different classes, many of which are essential, highlighting the suitability of the developed probe as a valuable tool for target identification in Plasmodium falciparum.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Baumann H, Matthews H, Li M, Hu JJ, Willison K, Baum Jet al., 2018, A high-throughput in vitro translation screen towards discovery of novel antimalarial protein translation inhibitors, Publisher: BioRxiv

Drugs that target protein synthesis are well-validated for use as antimicrobials, yet specific high throughput (HTP) methods to screen for those targeting malaria are lacking. Here, we have developed a cell free in vitro translation (IVT) assay for the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which reconstitutes the native parasite protein translation machinery. Combining clarified IVT lysate with a click beetle luciferase reporter gene fused to untranslated regions of Pf histidine-rich proteins (hrp)-2 and 3, the HTP IVT assay accurately reports protein translation in a 384-well plate format using a standard spectrofluorometer. We validate the assay as effective in detecting compounds targeting the ribosome, ribosome co-factors (elongation factor 2) and cytosolic tRNA synthetases as well as its ability to find translation inhibitors in a blind screen using a high-density assay format amenable for high throughput. This demonstrates an ability to reconstitute the breadth of the parasite eukaryotic protein translation machinery in vitro and use it as a powerful platform for antimalarial drug discovery.

WORKING PAPER

Wirth DF, Winzeler EA, Fenton B, Adams JH, Ariey F, Barillas-Mury CV, Baum J, Bhatia SN, Billker O, Bopp SE, Catteruccia F, Cowman AF, Chitnis CE, Crabb BS, Deitsch KW, Del Portillo HA, Djimde AA, Dobano C, Duffy PE, Duraisingh MT, Happi C, James AA, LaMonte G, Lukens AK, Llinas M, Mali P, Marti M, Martinez-Barnetche J, McGovern V, Mota MM, Mueller I, Ndiaye D, Neafsey DE, Ntoumi F, Prachumsri J, Sharma P, Shaw WR, Sinnis P, Tolia NH, Volkman SK, Wenger EA, Williamson Ket al., 2017, malERA: An updated research agenda for basic science and enabling technologies in malaria elimination and eradication, PLoS Medicine, Vol: 14, ISSN: 1549-1277

Basic science holds enormous power for revealing the biological mechanisms of disease and, in turn, paving the way toward new, effective interventions. Recognizing this power, the 2011 Research Agenda for Malaria Eradication included key priorities in fundamental research that, if attained, could help accelerate progress toward disease elimination and eradication. The Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA) Consultative Panel on Basic Science and Enabling Technologies reviewed the progress, continuing challenges, and major opportunities for future research. The recommendations come from a literature of published and unpublished materials and the deliberations of the malERA Refresh Consultative Panel. These areas span multiple aspects of the Plasmodium life cycle in both the human host and the Anopheles vector and include critical, unanswered questions about parasite transmission, human infection in the liver, asexual-stage biology, and malaria persistence. We believe an integrated approach encompassing human immunology, parasitology, and entomology, and harnessing new and emerging biomedical technologies offers the best path toward addressing these questions and, ultimately, lowering the worldwide burden of malaria.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Venkatraman N, Bowyer G, Edwards NJ, Griffiths O, Powlson J, Silman D, Morter R, Folegatti PM, Minassian A, Poulton I, Collins K, Brod F, Angell-Manning P, Berrie E, Brendish N, Glenn G, Fries L, Baum J, Blagborough AM, Roberts R, Lawrie AM, Lewis DJ, Faust SN, Gilbert S, Ewer KJ, Hill AVet al., 2017, HIGH LEVEL EFFICACY IN HUMANS OF A NEXT-GENERATION PLASMODIUM FALCIPARUM ANTI-SPOROZOITE VACCINE: R21 IN MATRIX-M (TM) ADJUVANT, 66th Annual Meeting of the American-Society-of-Tropical-Medicine-and-Hygiene (ASTMH), Publisher: AMER SOC TROP MED & HYGIENE, Pages: 594-594, ISSN: 0002-9637

CONFERENCE PAPER

Delves M, Marques S, Ruecker A, Straschil U, Miguel-Blance C, Lopez-Barragan M, Lelievre J, Molina I, Wree M, Okitsu S, Winzeler E, Li F, Vinetz J, Sheppard S, Guedes J, Guerra N, Herreros E, Sinden R, Baum Jet al., 2017, Failure of in vitro differentiation of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes into ookinetes arises because of poor gamete fertilisation, BioRxiv

A critical step towards malaria elimination will be the interruption of Plasmodium transmission from the human host to the mosquito. At the core of the transmission cycle lies Plasmodium sexual reproduction leading to zygote formation and mosquito midgut colonisation by ookinetes. Whilst in vitro ookinete culture from the murine and avian malaria parasites, Plasmodium berghei and P. gallinaceum, has greatly increased our knowledge of transmission biology; efforts to mimic the process in the human parasite P. falciparum have, to date, had only limited success. Using fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry with antibodies specific to the male gametocyte and developing ookinetes, we sought to evaluate P. falciparum ookinete production using previously published in vitro protocols. We then compared in vitro versus in vivo ookinete production in both P. falciparum and P. berghei parasites, exploring potential barriers to complete development. Finally, we sought to test a wide range of literature-led culture conditions towards further optimisation of in vitro P. falciparum ookinete production. Despite extensive testing, our efforts to replicate published methods did not produce appreciable quantities of fully formed P. falciparum ookinetes in vitro. In parallel, however, gametocyte cultures that failed to differentiate fully in vitro successfully developed into ookinetes in vivo with an efficiency approximating that of P. berghei. Flow cytometry analysis showed that this disparity likely lies with the poor fertilization of P. falciparum gametes in vitro. Attempts to improve gametocyte fertility or define conditions more permissive to fertilisation/ookinete survival in vitro were also unsuccessful. Current in vitro conditions for P. falciparum ookinete production are not optimal for gamete fertilisation either due to the lack of parasite-species-specific mosquito factors missing from in vitro culture, or non-permissive cues contaminating culture preparations.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Bargieri DY, Thiberge S, Tay C, Carey AF, Straschil U, Rantz A, Lorthois A, Hischen F, Tsuboi T, Triglia T, Alano P, Cowman A, Baum J, Pradel G, Lavazec C, Menard Ret al., 2017, PLASMODIUM MTRAP IS ESSENTIAL FOR GAMETE EGRESS AND PARASITE TRANSMISSION TO MOSQUITOES, 65th Annual Meeting of the American-Society-of-Tropical-Medicine-and-Hygiene (ASTMH), Publisher: AMER SOC TROP MED & HYGIENE, Pages: 588-588, ISSN: 0002-9637

CONFERENCE PAPER

Delves MJ, Miguel-Blanco C, Matthews H, Ruecker A, Molina I, Straschil U, Herreros-Aviles E, Gamo FJ, Baum Jet al., 2017, HIGH THROUGHPUT DISCOVERY OF NEW DRUGS TARGETING MALARIA PARASITE TRANSMISSION - TOWARDS THE ALTRUISTIC ANTIMALARIAL, 66th Annual Meeting of the American-Society-of-Tropical-Medicine-and-Hygiene (ASTMH), Publisher: AMER SOC TROP MED & HYGIENE, Pages: 305-305, ISSN: 0002-9637

CONFERENCE PAPER

Miguel-Blanco C, Molina I, Bardera AI, Diaz B, Heras LDL, Gonzalez C, Colmenarejo G, Lozano S, Ruecker A, Delves M, Marques S, Calvo D, Sanchez J, Rodrigues J, Baum J, Sinden R, Herreros Eet al., 2017, ACCELERATING THE DISCOVERY OF TRANSMISSION-BLOCKING DRUGS: HT SCREENING WITH A NOVEL PLASMODIUM FALCIPARUM FUNCTIONAL GAMETOCYTE ASSAY, 65th Annual Meeting of the American-Society-of-Tropical-Medicine-and-Hygiene (ASTMH), Publisher: AMER SOC TROP MED & HYGIENE, Pages: 82-82, ISSN: 0002-9637

CONFERENCE PAPER

Bookwalter CS, Tay CL, McCrorie R, Previs MJ, Lu H, Krementsova EB, Fagnant PM, Baum J, Trybus KMet al., 2017, Reconstitution of the core of the malaria parasite glideosome with recombinant Plasmodium class XIV myosin A and Plasmodium actin., Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol: 292, Pages: 19290-19303, ISSN: 0021-9258

Motility of the apicomplexan malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is enabled by a multi-protein glideosome complex, whose core is the class XIV myosin motor, PfMyoA and a divergent Plasmodium actin (PfACT1). Parasite motility is necessary for host cell invasion and virulence, but studying its molecular basis has been hampered by unavailability of sufficient amounts of PfMyoA. Here, we expressed milligram quantities of functional full-length PfMyoA with the baculovirus/Sf9 cell expression system, which required a UCS (UNC-45/CRO1/She4p) family myosin chaperone from Plasmodium spp. In addition to the known light chain MTIP, we identified an essential light chain (PfELC) that co-purified with PfMyoA isolated from parasite lysates. The speed at which PfMyoA moved actin was fastest with both light chains bound, consistent with the light chain-binding domain acting as a lever arm to amplify nucleotide-dependent motions in the motor domain. Surprisingly, PfELC binding to the heavy chain required that MTIP also be bound to the heavy chain, unlike MTIP that bound the heavy chain independently of PfELC. Neither the presence of calcium nor deletion of the MTIP N-terminal extension changed the speed of actin movement. Of note, PfMyoA moved filaments formed from Sf9 cell-expressed PfACT1 at the same speed as skeletal muscle actin. Duty ratio estimates suggested that as few as nine motors can power actin movement at maximal speed, a feature that may be necessitated by the dynamic nature of Plasmodium actin filaments in the parasite. In summary, we have reconstituted the essential core of the glideosome, enabling drug targeting of both of its core components to inhibit parasite invasion.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Das S, Lemgruber L, Tay CL, Baum J, Meissner Met al., 2017, Multiple essential functions of Plasmodium falciparum actin-1 during malaria blood-stage development, BMC Biology, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1741-7007

Background: The phylum Apicomplexa includes intracellular parasites causing immense global disease burden, thedeadliest of them being the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which invades and replicates withinerythrocytes. The cytoskeletal protein actin is well conserved within apicomplexans but divergent from mammalian actins,and was primarily reported to function during host cell invasion. However, novel invasion mechanisms have been describedfor several apicomplexans, and specific functions of the acto-myosin system are being reinvestigated. Of the two actingenes in P. falciparum, actin-1 (pfact1) is ubiquitously expressed in all life-cycle stages and is thought to be required forerythrocyte invasion, although its functions during parasite development are unknown, and definitive in vivocharacterisation during invasion is lacking.Results: Here we have used a conditional Cre-lox system to investigate the functions of PfACT1 during P. falciparum bloodstagedevelopment and host cell invasion. We demonstrate that PfACT1 is crucially required for segregation of the plastid-likeorganelle, the apicoplast, and for efficient daughter cell separation during the final stages of cytokinesis. Surprisingly, we observethat egress from the host cell is not an actin-dependent process. Finally, we show that parasites lacking PfACT1 are capable ofmicroneme secretion, attachment and formation of a junction with the erythrocyte, but are incapable of host cell invasion.Conclusions: This study provides important mechanistic insights into the definitive essential functions of PfACT1 inP. falciparum, which are not only of biological interest, but owing to functional divergence from mammalian actins,could also form the basis for the development of novel therapeutics against apicomplexans.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Miguel-Blanco C, Molina I, Bardera AI, Diaz B, de las Heras L, Lozano S, Gonzalez C, Rodrigues J, Delves MJ, Ruecker A, Colmenarejo G, Viera S, Martinez-Martinez MS, Fernandez E, Baum J, Sinden RE, Herreros Eet al., 2017, Hundreds of dual-stage antimalarial molecules discovered by a functional gametocyte screen, Nature Communications, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2041-1723

Plasmodium falciparum stage V gametocytes are responsible for parasite transmission, and drugs targeting this stage are needed to support malaria elimination. We here screen the Tres Cantos Antimalarial Set (TCAMS) using the previously developed P. falciparum female gametocyte activation assay (Pf FGAA), which assesses stage V female gametocyte viability and functionality using Pfs25 expression. We identify over 400 compounds with activities <2 μM, chemically classified into 57 clusters and 33 singletons. Up to 68% of the hits are chemotypes described for the first time as late-stage gametocyte-targeting molecules. In addition, the biological profile of 90 compounds representing the chemical diversity is assessed. We confirm in vitro transmission-blocking activity of four of the six selected molecules belonging to three distinct scaffold clusters. Overall, this TCAMS gametocyte screen provides 276 promising antimalarial molecules with dual asexual/sexual activity, representing starting points for target identification and candidate selection.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Koch M, Wright KE, Otti O, Herbig M, Salinas ND, Tolia NH, Satchwell TJ, Guck J, Brooks N, Baum Jet al., 2017, Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte binding antigen-175 triggers a biophysical change in the red blood cell that facilitates invasion, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol: 114, Pages: 4225-4230, ISSN: 1091-6490

Invasion of the red blood cell (RBC) by the Plasmodium parasite defines the start of malaria disease pathogenesis. To date, experimental investigations into invasion have focused predominantly on the role of parasite adhesins or signaling pathways and the identity of binding receptors on the red cell surface. A potential role for signaling pathways within the erythrocyte, which might alter red cell biophysical properties to facilitate invasion, has largely been ignored. The parasite erythrocyte-binding antigen 175 (EBA175), a protein required for entry in most parasite strains, plays a key role by binding to glycophorin A (GPA) on the red cell surface, although the function of this binding interaction is unknown. Here, using real-time deformability cytometry and flicker spectroscopy to define biophysical properties of the erythrocyte, we show that EBA175 binding to GPA leads to an increase in the cytoskeletal tension of the red cell and a reduction in the bending modulus of the cell’s membrane. We isolate the changes in the cytoskeleton and membrane and show that reduction in the bending modulus is directly correlated with parasite invasion efficiency. These data strongly imply that the malaria parasite primes the erythrocyte surface through its binding antigens, altering the biophysical nature of the target cell and thus reducing a critical energy barrier to invasion. This finding would constitute a major change in our concept of malaria parasite invasion, suggesting it is, in fact, a balance between parasite and host cell physical forces working together to facilitate entry.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Wong W, Bai XC, Sleebs B, Triglia T, Brown A, Thompson JK, Jackson KE, Hanssen E, Marapana DS, Fernandez I, Ralph SA, Cowman AF, Scheres SHW, Baum Jet al., 2017, Mefloquine targets the Plasmodium falciparum 80S ribosome to inhibit protein synthesis, Nature Microbiology, Vol: 2, ISSN: 2058-5276

Malaria control is heavily dependent on chemotherapeutic agents for disease prevention and drug treatment. Defining the mechanism of action for licensed drugs, for which no target is characterized, is critical to the development of their second-generation derivatives to improve drug potency towards inhibition of their molecular targets. Mefloquine is a widely used antimalarial without a known mode of action. Here, we demonstrate that mefloquine is a protein synthesis inhibitor. We solved a 3.2 Å electron cryo-microscopy structure of the Plasmodium falciparum 80S-ribosome with the (+)-mefloquine enantiomer bound to the ribosome GTPase-associated center. Mutagenesis of mefloquine-binding residues generates parasites with increased resistance, confirming the parasite-killing mechanism. Furthermore, structure-guided derivatives with an altered piperidine group, predicted to improve binding, show enhanced parasiticidal effect. These data reveal one possible mode of action for mefloquine and demonstrate the vast potential of cryo-EM to guide the development of mefloquine derivatives to inhibit parasite protein synthesis.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Baum J, Richard D, Riglar DT, 2017, Malaria parasite invasion: achieving superb resolution., Cell Host and Microbe, Vol: 21, Pages: 294-296, ISSN: 1931-3128

It is only in the last decade that sub-cellular resolution of red cell invasion by the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum has been possible. Here we look back on the development of methodologies that led to this possibility and the subsequent advancements made in understanding this key event in malaria disease.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Bargieri DY, Thiberge S, Tay CL, Carey AF, Rantz A, Hischen F, Lorthiois A, Straschil U, Singh P, Singh S, Triglia T, Tsuboi T, Cowman A, Chitnis C, Alano P, Baum J, Pradel G, Lavazec C, Ménard Ret al., 2016, Plasmodium merozoite TRAP family protein Is essential for vacuole membrane disruption and gamete egress from erythrocytes, Cell Host & Microbe, Vol: 20, Pages: 618-630, ISSN: 1934-6069

Surface-associated TRAP (thrombospondin-related anonymous protein) family proteins are conserved across the phylum of apicomplexan parasites. TRAP proteins are thought to play an integral role in parasite motility and cell invasion by linking the extracellular environment with the parasite submembrane actomyosin motor. Blood stage forms of the malaria parasite Plasmodium express a TRAP family protein called merozoite-TRAP (MTRAP) that has been implicated in erythrocyte invasion. Using MTRAP-deficient mutants of the rodent-infecting P. berghei and human-infecting P. falciparum parasites, we show that MTRAP is dispensable for erythrocyte invasion. Instead, MTRAP is essential for gamete egress from erythrocytes, where it is necessary for the disruption of the gamete-containing parasitophorous vacuole membrane, and thus for parasite transmission to mosquitoes. This indicates that motor-binding TRAP family members function not just in parasite motility and cell invasion but also in membrane disruption and cell egress.

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Johnson S, Rahmani R, Drew DR, Williams MJ, Huang JX, Tan YH, Wilkinson M, Tonkin CJ, Beeson JG, Baum J, Smith BJ, Baell Jet al., 2016, Truncated latrunculins as actin inhibitors targeting plasmodium falciparum motility and host-cell invasion, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Vol: 59, Pages: 10994-11005, ISSN: 0022-2623

Polymerization of the cytosolic protein actin is critical to cell movement and host-cell invasion by the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. Any disruption to actin polymerization dynamics will render the parasite incapable of invading a host cell and thereby unable to cause infection. Here, we explore the potential of using truncated latrunculins as potential chemotherapeutics for the treatment of malaria. Exploration of the binding interactions of the natural actin inhibitor latrunculins, with actin revealed how a truncated core of the inhibitor could retain its key interaction features with actin. This truncated core was synthesised and subjected to preliminary structure-activity relationship studies to generate a focused set of analogues. Biochemical analyses of these analogues demonstrate their 6-fold increased activity compared with latrunculin B against Plasmodium falciparum and a 16-fold improved selectivity ex vivo. These data establish the latrunculin core as a potential focus for future structure-based drug design of chemotherapeutics against malaria.

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Tardieux I, Baum J, 2016, Reassessing the mechanics of parasite motility and host-cell invasion, Journal of Cell Biology, Vol: 214, Pages: 507-515, ISSN: 1540-8140

The capacity to migrate is fundamental to multicellular and single-celled life. Apicomplexan parasites, an ancient protozoan clade that includes malaria parasites (Plasmodium) and Toxoplasma, achieve remarkable speeds of directional cell movement. This rapidity is achieved via a divergent actomyosin motor system, housed within a narrow compartment that lies underneath the length of the parasite plasma membrane. How this motor functions at a mechanistic level during motility and host cell invasion is a matter of debate. Here, we integrate old and new insights toward refining the current model for the function of this motor with the aim of revitalizing interest in the mechanics of how these deadly pathogens move.

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Lamas Oliveira Marques S, 2016, Routine in vitro culture of P. falciparum gametocytes to evaluate novel transmission-blocking interventions., Nature Protocols, Vol: 11, Pages: 1668-1680, ISSN: 1754-2189

The prevention of parasite transmission from the human host to the mosquito has been recognized as a vital tool for malaria eradication campaigns. However, transmission-blocking antimalarial drug and/or vaccine discovery and development is currently hampered by the expense and difficulty of producing mature Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes in vitro-the parasite stage responsible for mosquito infection. Current protocols for P. falciparum gametocyte culture usually require complex parasite synchronization and addition of stimulating and/or inhibitory factors, and they may not have demonstrated the essential property of mosquito infectivity. This protocol details all the steps required for reliable P. falciparum gametocyte production and highlights common factors that influence culture success. The protocol can be completed in 15 d, and particular emphasis is placed upon operating a gametocyte culture facility on a continuous cycle. In addition, we show how functionally viable gametocytes can be used to evaluate transmission-blocking drugs both in a field setting and at high throughput (HTP) for drug discovery.

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Bane KS, Lepper S, Kehrer J, Sattler JM, Singer M, Reinig M, Klug D, Heiss K, Baum J, Mueller AK, Frischknecht Fet al., 2016, The Actin Filament-Binding Protein Coronin Regulates Motility in Plasmodium Sporozoites, PLOS Pathogens, Vol: 12, ISSN: 1553-7366

Parasites causing malaria need to migrate in order to penetrate tissue barriers and enter host cells. Here we show that the actin filament-binding protein coronin regulates gliding motility in Plasmodium berghei sporozoites, the highly motile forms of a rodent malaria-causing parasite transmitted by mosquitoes. Parasites lacking coronin show motility defects that impair colonization of the mosquito salivary glands but not migration in the skin, yet result in decreased transmission efficiency. In non-motile sporozoites low calcium concentrations mediate actin-independent coronin localization to the periphery. Engagement of extracellular ligands triggers an intracellular calcium release followed by the actin-dependent relocalization of coronin to the rear and initiation of motility. Mutational analysis and imaging suggest that coronin organizes actin filaments for productive motility. Using coronin-mCherry as a marker for the presence of actin filaments we found that protein kinase A contributes to actin filament disassembly. We finally speculate that calcium and cAMP-mediated signaling regulate a switch from rapid parasite motility to host cell invasion by differentially influencing actin dynamics.

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Baum J, Zuccala E, Satchwell T, Angrisano F, Tan YH, Wilson MC, Heesom KJet al., 2016, Quantitative phospho-proteomics reveals the Plasmodium merozoite triggers pre-invasion host kinase modification of the red cell cytoskeleton, Scientific Reports, Vol: 6, ISSN: 2045-2322

The invasive blood-stage malaria parasite – the merozoite – induces rapid morphological changes to the target erythrocyte during entry. However, evidence for active molecular changes in the host cell that accompany merozoite invasion is lacking. Here, we use invasion inhibition assays, erythrocyte resealing and high-definition imaging to explore red cell responses during invasion. We show that although merozoite entry does not involve erythrocyte actin reorganisation, it does require ATP to complete the process. Towards dissecting the ATP requirement, we present an in depth quantitative phospho-proteomic analysis of the erythrocyte during each stage of invasion. Specifically, we demonstrate extensive increased phosphorylation of erythrocyte proteins on merozoite attachment, including modification of the cytoskeletal proteins beta-spectrin and PIEZO1. The association with merozoite contact but not active entry demonstrates that parasite-dependent phosphorylation is mediated by host-cell kinase activity. This provides the first evidence that the erythrocyte is stimulated to respond to early invasion events through molecular changes in its membrane architecture.

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Koch M, Baum J, 2016, The Mechanics of Malaria Parasite Invasion of the Human Erythrocyte - Towards a Reassessment of the Host Cell Contribution, Cellular Microbiology, Vol: 18, Pages: 319-329, ISSN: 1462-5822

Despite decades of research, we still know little about the mechanics of Plasmodium host cell invasion. Fundamentally, while the essential or non-essential nature of different parasite proteins is becoming clearer, their actual function and how each comes together to govern invasion are poorly understood. Furthermore, in recent years an emerging world view is shifting focus away from the parasite actin–myosin motor being the sole force responsible for entry to an appreciation of host cell dynamics and forces and their contribution to the process. In this review, we discuss merozoite invasion of the erythrocyte, focusing on the complex set of pre-invasion events and how these might prime the red cell to facilitate invasion. While traditionally parasite interactions at this stage have been viewed simplistically as mediating adhesion only, recent work makes it apparent that by interacting with a number of host receptors and signalling pathways, combined with secretion of parasite-derived lipid material, that the merozoite may initiate cytoskeletal re-arrangements and biophysical changes in the erythrocyte that greatly reduce energy barriers for entry. Seen in this light Plasmodium invasion may well turn out to be a balance between host and parasite forces, much like that of other pathogen infection mechanisms.

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