The main post-translational modifications and related regulatory pathways in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum: an update
There are important challenges when investigating individual post-translational modifications (PTMs) or protein interaction network and delineating if PTMs or their changes and cross-talks are involved during infection, disease initiation or as a result of disease progression. Proteomics and in silico approaches now offer the possibility to complement each other to further understand the regulatory involvement of these modifications in parasites and infection biology. Accordingly, the current review highlights key expressed or altered proteins and PTMs are invisible switches that turn on and off the function of most of the proteins. PTMs include phosphorylation, glycosylation, ubiquitylation, palmitoylation, myristoylation, prenylation, acetylation, methylation, and epigenetic PTMs in P. falciparum which have been recently identified. But also other low-abundant or overlooked PTMs that might be important for the parasite's survival, infectivity, antigenicity, immunomodulation and pathogenesis. We here emphasize the PTMs as regulatory pathways playing major roles in the biology, pathogenicity, metabolic pathways, survival, host-parasite interactions and the life cycle of P. falciparum. Further validations and functional characterizations of such proteins might confirm the discovery of therapeutic targets and might most likely provide valuable data for the treatment of P. falciparum, the main cause of severe malaria in human.