Upon Plasmodium falciparum merozoites exposure to low [K+] environment in blood plasma, there is escalation of cytosolic [Ca2+] which activates Ca2+-Dependent Protein Kinase 1 (CDPK1), a signaling hub of intra-erythrocytic proliferative stages of parasite. Given its high abundance and multidimensional attributes in parasite life-cycle, this is a lucrative target for designing antimalarials. Towards this, we have virtually screened MyriaScreenII diversity collection of 10,000 drug-like molecules, which resulted in 18 compounds complementing ATP-binding pocket of CDPK1. In vitro screening for toxicity in mammalian cells revealed that these compounds are non-toxic in nature. Furthermore, SPR analysis demonstrated differential binding affinity of these compounds towards recombinantly purified CDPK1 protein. Selection of lead compound 1 was performed by evaluating their inhibitory effects on phosphorylation and ATP binding activities of CDPK1. Furthermore, in vitro biophysical evaluations by ITC and FS revealed that binding of compound 1 is driven by formation of energetically favorable non-covalent interactions, with different binding constants in presence and absence of Ca2+, and TSA authenticated stability of compound 1 bound CDPK1 complex. Finally, compound 1 strongly inhibited intra-erythrocytic growth of P. falciparum in vitro. Conceivably, we propose a novel CDPK1-selective inhibitor, step towards developing pan-CDPK kinase inhibitors, prerequisite for cross-stage anti-malarial protection.

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