Vitamin B1 de novo synthesis in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum depends on external provision of 4-amino-5-hydroxymethyl-2-methylpyrimidine. Academic Article uri icon


  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is an essential cofactor for several key enzymes of carbohydrate metabolism. Mammals have to salvage this crucial nutrient from their diet to complement their deficiency of de novo synthesis. In contrast, bacteria, fungi, plants and, as reported here, Plasmodium falciparum, possess a vitamin B1 biosynthesis pathway. The plasmodial pathway identified consists of the three vitamin B1 biosynthetic enzymes 5-(2-hydroxy-ethyl)-4-methylthiazole (THZ) kinase (ThiM), 4-amino-5-hydroxymethyl-2-methylpyrimidine (HMP)/HMP-P kinase (ThiD) and thiamine phosphate synthase (ThiE). Recombinant PfThiM and PfThiD proteins were biochemically characterised, revealing K(m)app values of 68 microM for THZ and 12 microM for HMP. Furthermore, the ability of PfThiE for generating vitamin B1 was analysed by a complementation assay with thiE-negative E. coli mutants. All three enzymes are expressed throughout the developmental blood stages, as shown by Northern blotting, which indicates the presence of the vitamin B1 biosynthesis enzymes. However, cultivation of the parasite in minimal medium showed a dependency on the provision of HMP or thiamine. These results demonstrate that the human malaria parasite P. falciparum possesses active vitamin B1 biosynthesis, which depends on external provision of thiamine precursors.

published proceedings

  • Biol Chem

author list (cited authors)

  • Wrenger, C., Eschbach, M., Mller, I. B., Laun, N. P., Begley, T. P., & Walter, R. D.

citation count

  • 39

complete list of authors

  • Wrenger, Carsten||Eschbach, Marie-Luise||Müller, Ingrid B||Laun, Nathan P||Begley, Tadhg P||Walter, Rolf D

publication date

  • January 2006