Imaging-Based High-Throughput Screening Assay To Identify New Molecules with Transmission-Blocking Potential against Plasmodium falciparum Female Gamete Formation
Miguel-Blanco C., Lelièvre J., Delves MJ., Bardera AI., Presa JL., López-Barragán MJ., Ruecker A., Marques S., Sinden RE., Herreros E.
ABSTRACTIn response to a call for the global eradication of malaria, drug discovery has recently been extended to identify compounds that prevent the onward transmission of the parasite, which is mediated byPlasmodium falciparumstage V gametocytes. Lately, metabolic activity has been usedin vitroas a surrogate for gametocyte viability; however, as gametocytes remain relatively quiescent at this stage, their ability to undergo onward development (gamete formation) may be a better measure of their functional viability. During gamete formation, female gametocytes undergo profound morphological changes and express translationally repressed mRNA. By assessing female gamete cell surface expression of one such repressed protein, Pfs25, as the readout for female gametocyte functional viability, we developed an imaging-based high-throughput screening (HTS) assay to identify transmission-blocking compounds. This assay, designated theP. falciparumfemale gametocyte activation assay (FGAA), was scaled up to a high-throughput format (Z′ factor, 0.7 ± 0.1) and subsequently validated using a selection of 50 known antimalarials from diverse chemical families. Only a few of these agents showed submicromolar 50% inhibitory concentrations in the assay: thiostrepton, methylene blue, and some endoperoxides. To determine the best conditions for HTS, a robustness test was performed with a selection of the GlaxoSmithKline Tres Cantos Antimalarial Set (TCAMS) and the final screening conditions for this library were determined to be a 2 μM concentration and 48 h of incubation with gametocytes. TheP. falciparumFGAA has been proven to be a robust HTS assay faithful toPlasmodiumtransmission-stage cell biology, and it is an innovative useful tool for antimalarial drug discovery which aims to identify new molecules with transmission-blocking potential.