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1.  Heparin Modulates the Endopeptidase Activity of Leishmania mexicana Cysteine Protease Cathepsin L-Like rCPB2.8 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80153.
Background
Cysteine protease B is considered crucial for the survival and infectivity of the Leishmania in its human host. Several microorganism pathogens bind to the heparin-like glycosaminoglycans chains of proteoglycans at host-cell surface to promote their attachment and internalization. Here, we have investigated the influence of heparin upon Leishmania mexicana cysteine protease rCPB2.8 activity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The data analysis revealed that the presence of heparin affects all steps of the enzyme reaction: (i) it decreases 3.5-fold the k1 and 4.0-fold the k−1, (ii) it affects the acyl-enzyme accumulation with pronounced decrease in k2 (2.7-fold), and also decrease in k3 (3.5-fold). The large values of ΔG  =  12 kJ/mol for the association and dissociation steps indicate substantial structural strains linked to the formation/dissociation of the ES complex in the presence of heparin, which underscore a conformational change that prevents the diffusion of substrate in the rCPB2.8 active site. Binding to heparin also significantly decreases the α-helix content of the rCPB2.8 and perturbs the intrinsic fluorescence emission of the enzyme. The data strongly suggest that heparin is altering the ionization of catalytic (Cys25)-S−/(His163)-Im+ H ion pair of the rCPB2.8. Moreover, the interaction of heparin with the N-terminal pro-region of rCPB2.8 significantly decreased its inhibitory activity against the mature enzyme.
Conclusions/Significance
Taken together, depending on their concentration, heparin-like glycosaminoglycans can either stimulate or antagonize the activity of cysteine protease B enzymes during parasite infection, suggesting that this glycoconjugate can anchor parasite cysteine protease at host cell surface.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080153
PMCID: PMC3836952  PMID: 24278253
2.  Structure of Leishmania major cysteine synthase 
A crystallographic and biochemical study of L. major cysteine synthase, which is a pyridoxyl phosphate-dependent enzyme, is reported. The structure was determined to 1.8 Å resolution and revealed that the cofactor has been lost and that a fragment of γ-poly-d-glutamic acid, a crystallization ingredient, was bound in the active site. The enzyme was inhibited by peptides.
Cysteine biosynthesis is a potential target for drug development against parasitic Leishmania species; these protozoa are responsible for a range of serious diseases. To improve understanding of this aspect of Leishmania biology, a crystallographic and biochemical study of L. major cysteine synthase has been undertaken, seeking to understand its structure, enzyme activity and modes of inhibition. Active enzyme was purified, assayed and crystallized in an orthorhombic form with a dimer in the asymmetric unit. Diffraction data extending to 1.8 Å resolution were measured and the structure was solved by molecular replacement. A fragment of γ-poly-d-glutamic acid, a constituent of the crystallization mixture, was bound in the enzyme active site. Although a d-­glutamate tetrapeptide had insignificant inhibitory activity, the enzyme was competitively inhibited (K i = 4 µM) by DYVI, a peptide based on the C-­terminus of the partner serine acetyltransferase with which the enzyme forms a complex. The structure surprisingly revealed that the cofactor pyridoxal phosphate had been lost during crystallization.
doi:10.1107/S1744309112019124
PMCID: PMC3388911  PMID: 22750854
Arabidopsis thaliana; cysteine synthase; Leishmania major
3.  α-Ketoheterocycles as inhibitors of Leishmania mexicana cysteine protease CPB 
ChemMedChem  2010;5(10):1734-1748.
Cysteine proteases of the papain superfamily are present in nearly all eukaryotes and also play pivotal roles in the biology of parasites. Inhibition of cysteine proteases is emerging as an important strategy to combat parasitic diseases such as sleeping sickness, Chagas’ disease and leishmaniasis. Inspired by the in vivo antiparasitic activity of the vinyl sulfone based cysteine protease inhibitors (CPIs), a series of α-ketoheterocycles 1-15 has been developed as reversible inhibitors of a recombinant L. mexicana cysteine protease CPB2.8. The isoxazoles 1-3 and especially the oxadiazole 15 are potent reversible inhibitors of CPB2.8, however, in vitro whole-organism screening against a panel of protozoan parasites did not fully correlate with the observed inhibition of the cysteine protease.
doi:10.1002/cmdc.201000265
PMCID: PMC3245848  PMID: 20799311
cysteine proteases; inhibitors; ketoheterocycle; parasite CPB; Trypanosoma
4.  Cysteine biosynthesis in Trichomonas vaginalis involves cysteine synthase utilizing O-phosphoserine 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2006;281(35):25062-25075.
Trichomonas vaginalis is an early divergent eukaryote with many unusual biochemical features. It is an anaerobic protozoan parasite of humans that is thought to rely heavily on cysteine as a major redox buffer, as it lacks glutathione. We report here that for synthesis of cysteine from sulphide, T. vaginalis relies upon cysteine synthase. The enzyme (TvCS1) can use as substrates either O-acetylserine or O-phosphoserine. The Kms of the enzyme for sulphide is very low (0.02 mM), suggesting that the enzyme may be a means of ensuring that sulphide in the parasite is maintained at a low level. T. vaginalis appears to lack serine acetyltransferase, the source of O-acetylserine in many cells, but has a functional 3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase and an O-phosphoserine aminotransferase that together result in the production of O-phosphoserine, suggesting that this is the physiological substrate. TvCS1 can also use thiosulphate as substrate. Overall, TvCS1 has substrate specificities similar to those reported for cysteine synthases of Aeropyrum pernix and Escherichia coli and this is reflected by sequence similarities around the active site. We suggest that these enzymes are classified together as type B cysteine synthases and we hypothesise that the use of O-phosphoserine is a common characteristic of these cysteine synthases. The level of cysteine synthase in T. vaginalis is regulated according to need, such that parasites growing in an environment rich in cysteine have low activity, whereas exposure to propargylglycine results in elevated cysteine synthase activity. Humans lack cysteine synthase, thus this parasite enzyme could be an exploitable drug target.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M600688200
PMCID: PMC2645516  PMID: 16735516
Trichomonas; parasite; antioxidant; cysteine synthase; desulphurase
6.  THE STRUCTURE OF LEISHMANIA MEXICANA ICP PROVIDES EVIDENCE FOR CONVERGENT EVOLUTION OF CYSTEINE PEPTIDASE INHIBITORS* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2005;281(9):5821-5828.
Clan CA, family C1 cysteine peptidases (CPs) are important virulence factors and drug targets in parasites that cause neglected diseases. Natural CP inhibitors of the I42 family, known as ICP, occur in some protozoa and bacterial pathogens, but are absent from metazoa. They are active against both parasite and mammalian CPs, despite having no sequence similarity with other classes of CP inhibitor. Recent data suggest that L. mexicana ICP plays an important role in host-parasite interactions. We have now solved the structure of ICP from L. mexicanaby NMR and shown that it adopts a type of immunoglobulin-like fold not previously reported in lower eukaryotes or bacteria. The structure places three loops containing highly conserved residues at one end of the molecule, one loop being highly mobile. Interaction studies with CPs confirm the importance of these loops for the interaction between ICP and CPs and suggest the mechanism of inhibition. Structure-guided mutagenesis of ICP has revealed that residues in the mobile loop are critical for CP inhibition. Data-driven docking models support the importance of the loops in the ICP-CP interaction. This study provides structural evidence for the convergent evolution from an immunoglobulin fold of CP inhibitors with a cystatin-like mechanism.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M510868200
PMCID: PMC1473161  PMID: 16407198
7.  Ecotin-like serine peptidase inhibitor ISP1 of Leishmania major plays a role in flagellar pocket dynamics and promastigote differentiation 
Cellular Microbiology  2012;14(8):1271-1286.
Leishmania ISPs are ecotin-like natural peptide inhibitors of trypsin-family serine peptidases, enzymes that are absent from the Leishmania genome. This led to the proposal that ISPs inhibit host serine peptidases and we have recently shown that ISP2 inhibits neutrophil elastase, thereby enhancing parasite survival in murine macrophages. In this study we show that ISP1 has less serine peptidase inhibitory activity than ISP2, and in promastigotes both are generally located in the cytosol and along the flagellum. However, in haptomonad promastigotes there is a prominent accumulation of ISP1 and ISP2 in the hemidesmosome and for ISP2 on the cell surface. An L. major mutant deficient in all three ISP genes (Δisp1/2/3) was generated and compared with Δisp2/3 mutants to elucidate the physiological role of ISP1. In in vitro cultures, the Δisp1/2/3 mutant contained more haptomonad, nectomonad and leptomonad promastigotes with elongated flagella and reduced motility compared with Δisp2/3 populations, moreover it was characterized by very high levels of release of exosome-like vesicles from the flagellar pocket. These data suggest that ISP1 has a primary role in flagellar homeostasis, disruption of which affects differentiation and flagellar pocket dynamics.
doi:10.1111/j.1462-5822.2012.01798.x
PMCID: PMC3440592  PMID: 22486816
8.  Draft Genome Sequence of the Sexually Transmitted Pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;315(5809):207-212.
We describe the genome sequence of the protist Trichomonas vaginalis, a sexually transmitted human pathogen. Repeats and transposable elements comprise about two-thirds of the ~160-megabase genome, reflecting a recent massive expansion of genetic material. This expansion, in conjunction with the shaping of metabolic pathways that likely transpired through lateral gene transfer from bacteria, and amplification of specific gene families implicated in pathogenesis and phagocytosis of host proteins may exemplify adaptations of the parasite during its transition to a urogenital environment. The genome sequence predicts previously unknown functions for the hydrogenosome, which support a common evolutionary origin of this unusual organelle with mitochondria.
doi:10.1126/science.1132894
PMCID: PMC2080659  PMID: 17218520

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