Malaria, an infectious disease caused by Plasmodium spp, is one of the world's most dangerous diseases,
accounting for more than half a million deaths yearly. The long years of co-habitation between the parasite
and its hosts (human and mosquito), is a testimony to the parasite's ability to escape the immune system and
develop drug resistance mechanisms. Currently, an important search area for improved pharmacotherapy are
molecular chaperones of the heat shock protein family, abundant in Plasmodium falciparum and contributing to
its continuous survival and development. Thus far, small molecule inhibitor studies on P. falciparum Hsp70s and
Hsp90s have indicated that they are promising antimalarial targets. However, not much attention has been given
to Hsp40s as potential antimalarial drug targets. Hsp40s are known to function as chaperones by preventing protein
aggregation, and as co-chaperones, by regulating the chaperone activities of Hsp70s to ensure proper protein
folding. There are only a limited number of reviews on Hsp40s as drug targets, and the few reviews on plasmodial
Hsp40s tend to focus largely on the intra-erythrocytic stage of the parasite life cycle. Therefore, this review
will summarize what is known about Hsp40s throughout the malaria parasite life cycle, and critically evaluate
their potential to serve as new avenues for antimalarial drug discovery.
Keywords: Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum (Pf), Heat Shock Protein (Hsp), PfHsp40s, Chaperones, Co-chaperones, Pharmacotherapy.
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