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Characterization of drug-resistance transporters of the digestive vacuole

Malaria treatment options have become complicated within the last decade through spontaneous mutations in the genome of the parasite involving genes encoding for drug resistance transporters. The digestive vacuole represents an organelle (DV, labelled in green in the picture, parasite in red, nucleus in blue) within the malaria parasite where host hemoglobin of the infected red blood cell (iRBC) is digested and biomineralized to hemozoin, a biocrystal inert to the parasite. Several antimalarial drugs have been suggested to inhibit this biomineralization, resulting in heme accumulation to levels that are toxic to the parasite. However, mutations in membrane transporters localized in the DV membrane affected drug influx or efflux activity, thus protecting the parasite from drug action (Reiling et al., 2018; Friedrich et al., 2014). Together with our collaboration partner Prof. Dr. Petra Rohrbach from the McGill University in Montreal, we determine flux rates and the ability of the transporters to convey new potential drugs in order to predict early upcoming resistances.