Post-translational modifications, especially reversible phosphorylation, are among the most common mechanisms that regulate protein function and biological processes in Plasmodium species. Of the Plasmodium phosphatases, phosphatase of regenerating liver (PfPRL) is secreted and is an essential phosphatase. Here, we expressed PfPRL in a heterologous expression system, and then purified and characterized its phosphatase activity. We found that Novartis_003209, a previously identified inhibitor, inhibited the PfPRL phosphatase activity of recombinant PfPRL and blocked in vitro parasite growth in a dose-dependent manner. Further, in silico docking analysis of Novartis_003209 with all four P. falciparum tyrosine phosphatases (PTP) demonstrated that Novartis_003209 is a Plasmodium PTP inhibitor. Overall, our results identify a scaffold as a potential starting point to design a PTP-specific inhibitor.
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