Artemisinins are the cornerstone of anti-malarial drugs. Emergence and spread of resistance to them raises risk of wiping out recent gains achieved in reducing worldwide malaria burden and threatens future malaria control and elimination on a global level. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed parasite genetic loci associated with artemisinin resistance. However, there is no consensus on biochemical targets of artemisinin. Whether and how these targets interact with genes identified by GWAS, remains unknown. Here we provide biochemical and cellular evidence that artemisinins are potent inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PfPI3K), revealing an unexpected mechanism of action.
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