CPP-ZFN: A potential DNA-targeting anti-malarial drug
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Abstract Background Multidrug-resistant Plasmodium is of major concern today. Effective vaccines or successful applications of RNAi-based strategies for the treatment of malaria are currently unavailable. An unexplored area in the field of malaria research is the development of DNA-targeting drugs that can specifically interact with parasitic DNA and introduce deleterious changes, leading to loss of vital genome function and parasite death. Presentation of the hypothesis Advances in the development of zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) with engineered DNA recognition domains allow us to design and develop nuclease of high target sequence specificity with a mega recognition site that typically occurs only once in the genome. Moreover, cell-penetrating peptides (CPP) can cross the cell plasma membrane and deliver conjugated protein, nucleic acid, or any other cargo to the cytoplasm, nucleus, or mitochondria. This article proposes that a drug from the combination of the CPP and ZFN systems can effectively enter the intracellular parasite, introduce deleterious changes in its genome, and eliminate the parasite from the infected cells. Testing the hypothesis Availability of a DNA-binding motif for more than 45 triplets and its modular nature, with freedom to change number of fingers in a ZFN, makes development of customized ZFN against diverse target DNA sequence of any gene feasible. Since the Plasmodium genome is highly AT rich, there is considerable sequence site diversity even for the structurally and functionally conserved enzymes between Plasmodium and humans. CPP can be used to deliver ZFN to the intracellular nucleus of the parasite. Signal-peptide-based heterologous protein translocation to Plasmodium-infected RBCs (iRBCs) and different Plasmodium organelles have been achieved. With successful fusion of CPP with mitochondrial- and nuclear-targeting peptides, fusion of CPP with 1 more Plasmodium cell membrane translocation peptide seems achievable. Implications of the hypothesis Targeting of the Plasmodium genome using ZFN has great potential for the development of anti-malarial drugs. It allows the development of a single drug against all malarial infections, including multidrug-resistant strains. Availability of multiple ZFN target sites in a single gene will provide alternative drug target sites to combat the development of resistance in the future.
Malaria Journal. 2010 Sep 16;9(1):258
Vikrant Nain et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.