A Biotinylated cpFIT-PNA Platform for the Facile Detection of Drug Resistance to Artemisinin in Plasmodium falciparum

Odelia Tepper, Daniel H. Appella, Hongchao Zheng, Ron Dzikowski, Eylon Yavin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The evolution of drug resistance to many antimalarial drugs in the lethal strain of malaria (Plasmodium falciparum) has been a great concern over the past 50 years. Among these drugs, artemisinin has become less effective for treating malaria. Indeed, several P. falciparum variants have become resistant to this drug, as elucidated by specific mutations in the pfK13 gene. This study presents the development of a diagnostic kit for the detection of a common point mutation in the pfK13 gene of P. falciparum, namely, the C580Y point mutation. FIT-PNAs (forced-intercalation peptide nucleic acid) are DNA mimics that serve as RNA sensors that fluoresce upon hybridization to their complementary RNA. Herein, FIT-PNAs were designed to sense the C580Y single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and were conjugated to biotin in order to bind these molecules to streptavidin-coated plates. Initial studies with synthetic RNA were conducted to optimize the sensing system. In addition, cyclopentane-modified PNA monomers (cpPNAs) were introduced to improve FIT-PNA sensing. Lastly, total RNA was isolated from red blood cells infected with P. falciparum (WT strain - NF54-WT or mutant strain - NF54-C580Y). Streptavidin plates loaded with either FIT-PNA or cpFIT-PNA were incubated with the total RNA. A significant difference in fluorescence for mutant vs WT total RNA was found only for the cpFIT-PNA probe. In summary, this study paves the way for a simple diagnostic kit for monitoring artemisinin drug resistance that may be easily adapted to malaria endemic regions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1458-1464
Number of pages7
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number3
StatePublished - 22 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society


  • P. falciparum
  • artemisinin
  • drug resistance
  • pfK13


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