Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Unraveling Heme Metabolism in Malaria Parasites

Prof. Paul Sigala
Prof. Paul Sigala
University of Utah
Chemistry Building, Room 400
Inorganic Seminar
CMS Seminar

Malaria remains a devastating infectious disease, with symptoms caused by Plasmodium parasite invasion of erythrocytes. During blood-stage infection, parasites import and digest up to 80% of host cell hemoglobin. This massive catabolic process liberates vast amounts of heme, which parasites detoxify by sequestering it into crystalline hemozoin within an acidic digestive vacuole. Eukaryotic Plasmodium parasites also require heme as a metabolic cofactor within mitochondrial cytochromes. Despite access to abundant host heme, parasites retain a complete heme biosynthesis pathway, whose essentiality and properties have been the subject of considerable confusion and uncertainty. We have used mass spectrometry, photodynamic and chemical probes, and CRISPR/Cas9-based molecular genetics to dissect and understand parasite pathways for heme acquisition, evaluate heme biosynthesis as a potential antimalarial target, and directly test parasite reliance on respiratory cytochromes during blood-stage infection. These studies provide direct insight into parasite adaptations that equip them to survive and proliferate within human red blood cells and suggest multiple new therapeutic strategies.

Support Us

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.

Got More Questions?

Undergraduate inquiries: 

Registration and credit

AP Credit, Section Changes, Overrides,

Graduate inquiries:

Contact Us!

Assistant to the Department Head: Donna Spotts, 706-542-1919 

Main office phone: 706-542-1919 

Main Email:

Head of Chemistry: Prof. Jason Locklin