A versatile Plasmodium falciparum reporter line expressing NanoLuc enables highly sensitive multi-stage drug assays

Y. Miyazaki et al., Communications biology (6), 2023


Transgenic luciferase-expressing Plasmodium falciparum parasites have been widely used for the evaluation of anti-malarial compounds. Here, to screen for anti-malarial drugs effective against multiple stages of the parasite, we generate a P. falciparum reporter parasite that constitutively expresses NanoLuciferase (NanoLuc) throughout its whole life cycle. The NanoLuc-expressing P. falciparum reporter parasite shows a quantitative NanoLuc signal in the asexual blood, gametocyte, mosquito, and liver stages. We also establish assay systems to evaluate the anti-malarial activity of compounds at the asexual blood, gametocyte, and liver stages, and then determine the 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) value of several anti-malarial compounds. Through the development of this robust high-throughput screening system, we identify an anti-malarial compound that kills the asexual blood stage parasites. Our study highlights the utility of the NanoLuc reporter line, which may advance anti-malarial drug development through the improved screening of compounds targeting the human malarial parasite at multiple stages.

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