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Cryo-EM structure of the Plasmodium falciparum 80S ribosome bound to the anti-protozoan drug emetine.

Wong W., Bai X.C., Brown A., Fernandez I.S., Hanssen E., Condron M., Tan Y.H., Baum J., Scheres S.H.

Malaria inflicts an enormous burden on global human health. The emergence of parasite resistance to front-line drugs has prompted a renewed focus on the repositioning of clinically approved drugs as potential anti-malarial therapies. Antibiotics that inhibit protein translation are promising candidates for repositioning. We have solved the cryo-EM structure of the cytoplasmic ribosome from the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, in complex with emetine at 3.2 Å resolution. Emetine is an anti-protozoan drug used in the treatment of ameobiasis that also displays potent anti-malarial activity. Emetine interacts with the E-site of the ribosomal small subunit and shares a similar binding site with the antibiotic pactamycin, thereby delivering its therapeutic effect by blocking mRNA/tRNA translocation. As the first cryo-EM structure that visualizes an antibiotic bound to any ribosome at atomic resolution, this establishes cryo-EM as a powerful tool for screening and guiding the design of drugs that target parasite translation machinery.

Elife 3:0-0(2014) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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