Artemisinin-resistant K13 mutations rewire Plasmodium falciparum’s intra-erythrocytic metabolic program to enhance survival

Sachel Mok, Barbara H. Stokes, Nina F. Gnädig, Leila S. Ross, Tomas Yeo, Chanaki Amaratunga, Erik Allman, Lev Solyakov, Andrew R. Bottrill, Jaishree Tripathi, Rick M. Fairhurst, Manuel Llinás, Zbynek Bozdech, Andrew B. Tobin, David A. Fidock

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42 Citations (SciVal)


The emergence and spread of artemisinin resistance, driven by mutations in Plasmodium falciparum K13, has compromised antimalarial efficacy and threatens the global malaria elimination campaign. By applying systems-based quantitative transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics to a panel of isogenic K13 mutant or wild-type P. falciparum lines, we provide evidence that K13 mutations alter multiple aspects of the parasite’s intra-erythrocytic developmental program. These changes impact cell-cycle periodicity, the unfolded protein response, protein degradation, vesicular trafficking, and mitochondrial metabolism. K13-mediated artemisinin resistance in the Cambodian Cam3.II line was reversed by atovaquone, a mitochondrial electron transport chain inhibitor. These results suggest that mitochondrial processes including damage sensing and anti-oxidant properties might augment the ability of mutant K13 to protect P. falciparum against artemisinin action by helping these parasites undergo temporary quiescence and accelerated growth recovery post drug elimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number530
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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