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The response of Plasmodium falciparum to isoleucine withdrawal is dependent on the stage of progression through the intraerythrocytic cell cycle

A previous study observed that the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum appeared to stall its growth upon removal of the amino acid isoleucine from cell culture medium. We have re-examined this phenomenon and found that isoleucine-deprived parasites never truly exit the cell cycle but instead continuously grow at a markedly reduced pace. This slow growth occurs only if isoleucine is removed prior to the onset of DNA replication. Once S-phase initiates, the parasite is insensitive to isoleucine removal and progresses through the cell cycle normally. This response is reminiscent of the nutrient-dependent G1 cell cycle checkpoints described in other organisms.

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