In Leishmania major, the core of the abundant surface lipophosphoglycan (LPG) is structurally related to that of the smaller glycosylinositolphospholipids (GIPLs) in containing galactosylfuranose (Galf ) residues in a Galf (β1, 3)Man motif. However, deletion of the putative Galf-transferase (Galf T) LPG1 affected Galf incorporation in LPG but not GIPLs. We hypothesized that the presumptive GIPL Galf-transferases could be homologous to LPG1, and identified three related genes in the L. major genome. These were termed LPG1L, LPG1R, and LPG1G, the latter of which was found in three identical copies located at the telomeres of chromosomes 5, 19, and 32 based on Leishmania genome project data. Neither LPG1 nor its homologues LPG1L and LPG1R were involved in the biosynthesis of GIPLs, as an lpg1−/lpg1l−/lpg1r− triple knockout (the first such in Leishmania) grew normally and made wild-type levels of Galf-containing GIPLs. In contrast, overexpression of these three led to elevated galactose incorporation in glycoproteins. Galf-containing glycoproteins had not been described in Leishmania but occur at high levels in other closely related trypanosomatids including Trypanosoma cruzi, Crithidia, Leptomonas, and Endotrypanum, and LPG1L and LPG1R homologs were detected in these species. These data suggest that the glyco-synthetic capabilities of Leishmania and perhaps other trypanosomatids may be larger than previously thought, with some activities being ‘cryptic’ in different lineages and potentially serving as reservoirs for glycoconjugate variation during evolution. Future tests will address whether the LPG1G family encodes the hypothesized GIPL-specific Galf T.
Glycosylinositolphospholipids; Lipophosphoglycan; Galactosylfuranose; Galactosylfuranose transferase
Malaria parasites export ‘a secretome’ of hundreds of proteins, including major virulence determinants, from their endoplasmic reticulum (ER), past the parasite plasma and vacuolar membranes to the host erythrocyte. The export mechanism is high affinity (nanomolar) binding of a host (cell) targeting (HT) motif RxLxE/D/Q to the lipid phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PI(3)P) in the ER. Cleavage of the HT motif releases the secretory protein from the ER membrane. The HT motif is thought to be the only export signal resident in an N-terminal vacuolar translocation sequence (VTS) that quantitatively targets green fluorescent protein to the erythrocyte. We have previously shown that the R to A mutation in the HT motif, abrogates VTS binding to PI(3)P (Kd > 5 μM). We now show that remarkably, the R to A mutant is exported to the host erythrocyte, for both membrane and soluble reporters, although the efficiency of export is reduced to ~ 30% of that seen with a complete VTS. Mass spectrometry indicates that the R to A mutant is cleaved at sites upstream of the HT motif. Antibodies to upstream sequences confirm that aberrantly cleaved R to A protein mutant is exported to the erythrocyte. These data suggest that export mechanisms, independent of PI(3)P as well as those dependent on PI(3)P, function together in a VTS to target parasite proteins to the host erythrocyte.
Plasmodium falciparum; pathogenic protein secretion; PI(3)P-independent export
The life cycle of the nematode Angiostrongylus cantonensis involves rats as the definitive host and slugs and snails as intermediate hosts. Humans can become infected upon ingestion of intermediate or paratenic (passive carrier) hosts containing stage L3 A. cantonensis larvae. Here, we report a quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay that provides a reliable, relative measure of parasite load in intermediate hosts. Quantification of the levels of infection of intermediate hosts is critical for determining A. cantonensis intensity on the Island of Hawaii. The identification of high intensity infection ‘hotspots’ will allow for more effective targeted rat and slug control measures. qPCR appears more efficient and sensitive than microscopy and provides a new tool for quantification of larvae from intermediate hosts, and potentially from other sources as well.
Rat lungworm; Angiostrongylus cantonensis; qPCR; Parmarion martensi; Semi-slug
Schistosoma mansoni; Nitric oxide (NO); Serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE); Extracellular superoxide dismutase (EC-SOD)
Apicomplexa parasites use complex cell cycles to replicate that are not well understood mechanistically. We have established a robust forward genetic strategy to identify the essential components of parasite cell division. Here we describe a novel temperature sensitive Toxoplasma strain, mutant 13-20C2, which growth arrests due to a defect in mitosis. The primary phenotype is the mis-segregation of duplicated chromosomes with chromosome loss during nuclear division. This defect is conditional-lethal with respect to temperature, although relatively mild in regard to the preservation of the major microtubule organizing centers. Despite severe DNA loss many of the physical structures associated with daughter budding and the assembly of invasion structures formed and operated normally at the non-permissive temperature before completely arresting. These results suggest there are coordinating mechanisms that govern the timing of these events in the parasite cell cycle. The defect in mutant 13-20C2 was mapped by genetic complementation to Toxoplasma chromosome III and to a specific mutation in the gene encoding an ortholog of nuclear actin-related protein 4. A change in a conserved isoleucine to threonine in the helical structure of this nuclear actin related protein leads to protein instability and cellular mis-localization at the higher temperature. Given the age of this protist family, the results indicate a key role for nuclear actin-related proteins in chromosome segregation was established very early in the evolution of eukaryotes.
Apicomplexa; Toxoplasma gondii; cell cycle; mitosis; chromosome segregation; actin-related protein 4a
We have shown that transgenic Plasmodium falciparum parasites expressing the yeast DHODH (dihydroorotate dehydrogenase) are independent of the mtETC (mitochondrial electron transport chain), suggesting that they might not need the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA), since it only encodes three protein subunits belonging to the mtETC and fragmentary ribosomal RNA molecules. Disrupting the mitochondrial RNA polymerase (mtRNAP), which is critical for mtDNA replication and transcription, might then cause the generation of a ρ0 parasite line lacking mtDNA. We made multiple attempts to disrupt the mtRNAP gene by double crossover recombination methods in parasite lines expressing yDHODH either episomally or integrated in the genome, but were unable to produce the desired knockout. We verified that the mtRNAP gene was accessible to recombination by successfully integrating a triple HA tag at the 3’ end via single cross-over recombination. These studies suggest that mtRNAP is essential even in mtETC-independent P. falciparum parasites.
malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; ρ0; mitochondrial RNA polymerase; gene knockout
Trypanosoma brucei membranes consist of all major eukaryotic glycerophospholipid and sphingolipid classes. These are de novo synthesized from precursors obtained either from the host or from catabolised endocytosed lipids. In recent years, substantial progress has been made in the molecular and biochemical characterisation of several of these lipid biosynthetic pathways, using gene knockout or RNA interference strategies or by enzymatic characterization of individual reactions. Together with the completed genome, these studies have highlighted several possible differences between mammalian and trypanosome lipid biosynthesis that could be exploited for the development of drugs against the diseases caused by these parasites.
Trypanosoma; Phospholipids; Sphingolipids; Fatty acids; Biosynthesis; Metabolism; Gene IDs
The ability of Giardia to differentiate into cysts which survive in the environment and release the virulent trophozoites after ingestion in the small intestine is essential for transmission and disease. We examined the role of enolase, a glycolytic enzyme, in Giardia differentiation. The sequence of Giardia lamblia enolase (gEno) is most similar to enolases in Homo sapiens and Leishmania mexicana, and shows the conserved catalytic and metal-binding residues. We used an integration vector to stably express wild type and mutant gEno. In trophozoites, wild type gEno localized to the cell membrane, caudal flagella and cytosol. gEno is present on the wall of mature cysts, but not in encystation secretory vesicles (ESV). The expression of gEno with a deletion of residues G167-K169, or mutations H389Q/R390S significantly inhibited excystation while mutation of residue D257K had no effect. These results suggest a role for enolase in regulation of Giardia excystation.
Giardia lamblia; enolase; excystation; differentiation
Metallocarboxypeptidases (MCP) of the M32 family of peptidases have been identified in a number of prokaryotic organisms but they are absent from eukaryotic genomes with the remarkable exception of those of trypanosomatids. The genome of Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of Sleeping Sickness, encodes one such MCP which displays 72% identity to the characterized TcMCP-1 from Trypanosoma cruzi. As its orthologue, TcMCP-1, Trypanosoma brucei MCP is a cytosolic enzyme expressed in both major stages of the parasite. Purified recombinant TbMCP-1 exhibits a significant hydrolytic activity against the carboxypeptidase B substrate FA (furylacryloil)-Ala-Lys at pH 7.0–7.8 resembling the T. cruzi enzyme. S everal divalent cations had little effect on TbMCP-1 activity but increasing amounts of Co2+ inhibited the enzyme. Despite having similar tertiary structure, both protozoan MCPs display different substrate specificity with respect to P1 position. Thus, TcMCP-1 enzyme cleaved Abz-FVK-(Dnp)-OH substrate (where Abz: o-aminobenzoic acid and Dnp: 2,4-dinitrophenyl) whereas TbMCP-1 had no activity on this substrate. Comparative homology models and sequence alignments using TcMCP-1 as a template led us to map several residues that could explain this difference. To verify this hypothesis, site-directed mutagenesis was undertaken replacing the TbMCP-1 residues by those present in TcMCP-1. We found that the substitution A414M led TbMCP-1 to gain activity on Abz-FVK-(Dnp)-OH, thus showing that this residue is involved in specificity determination, probably being part of the S1 sub-site. Moreover, the activity of both protozoan MCPs was explored on two vasoactive compounds such as bradykinin and angiotensin I resulting in two different hydrolysis patterns.
Trypanosoma brucei; carboxypeptidase; M32 family; FRET peptides; Trypanosoma cruzi; peptidase
Apicomplexan parasites utilize a peripheral membrane system called the inner membrane complex (IMC) to facilitate host cell invasion and parasite replication. We recently identified a novel family of Toxoplasma IMC Sub-compartment Proteins (ISP1/2/3) that localize to sub-domains of the IMC using a targeting mechanism that is dependent on coordinated myristoylation and palmitoylation of a series of residues in the N-terminus of the protein. While the precise functions of the ISPs are unknown, deletion of ISP2 results in replication defects, suggesting that this family of proteins plays a role in daughter cell formation. Here we have characterized a fourth ISP family member (ISP4) and discovered that this protein localizes to the central IMC sub-compartment, similar to ISP2. Like ISP1/3, ISP4 is dispensable for the tachyzoite lytic cycle as the disruption of ISP4 does not produce any gross replication or growth defects. Surprisingly, targeting of ISP4 to the IMC membranes is dependent on residues predicted for palmitoylation but not myristoylation, setting its trafficking apart from the other ISP proteins and demonstrating distinct mechanisms of protein localization to the IMC membranes, even within a family of highly-related proteins.
Toxoplasma; Inner Membrane Complex; ISP; palmitoylation; myristoylation; endodyogeny
Mitochondrial (mt) genome sequences have enabled comparison of population genetics and evolution for numerous free-living and parasitic nematodes. Here we define the complete mt genome of Wuchereria bancrofti through analysis of isolates from Papua New Guinea, India and West Africa. Sequences were assembled for each isolate and annotated with reference to the mt genome sequence for Brugia malayi. The length of the W. bancrofti mt genome is approximately 13,637 nucleotides, contains 2 ribosomal RNAs (rrns), 22 transfer RNAs (trns), 12 protein-coding genes, and is characterized by a 74.6% AT content. The W. bancrofti mt gene order is identical to that reported for Onchocerca volvulus, Dirofilaria immitis, Setaria digitata and B. malayi. In addition to using translational start codons identified previously in the mt protein-coding genes of other filarial nematodes, W. bancrofti appears to be unique in using TGT as a translational start codon. Similarly, use of incomplete stop codons in mt protein-coding genes appears to be more common in W. bancrofti than in other human filarial parasites. The complete mt genome sequence reported here provides new genetic markers for investigating phylogenetic and geographic relationships between isolates, and assessing population diversity within endemic regions. The sequence polymorphism enables new strategies to monitor the progress of public health interventions to control and eliminate this important human parasite. We illustrate the utility of this sequence and single nucleotide polymorphisms by inferring the divergence times between the three W. bancrofti isolates, suggesting predictions into their origin and migration.
The human liver fluke, Opisthorchis viverrini, induces inflammation of the hepatobiliary system. Despite being constantly exposed to inimical oxygen radicals released from inflammatory cells, the parasite survives for many years. The mechanisms by which it avoids oxidative damage are unknown. In this study, thioredoxin peroxidase (TPx), a member of the peroxiredoxin superfamily, was cloned from an O. viverrini cDNA library. O. viverrini TPx cDNA encoded a polypeptide of 212 amino acid residues, of molecular mass 23.57 kDa. The putative amino acid sequence shared 60-70% identity with TPXs from other helminths and from mammals, and phylogenetic analysis revealed a close relationship between TPxs from O. viverrini and other trematodes. Recombinant O. viverrini TPx was expressed as soluble protein in Escherichia coli. The recombinant protein dimerized, and its antioxidant activity was deduced by observing protection of nicking of supercoiled plasmid DNA by hydroxyl radicals. Antiserum raised against O. viverrini TPx recognized native proteins from egg, metacercaria and adult developmental stages of the liver fluke and excretory-secretory products released by adult O. viverrini. Immunolocalization studies revealed ubiquitous expression of TPx in O. viverrini organs and tissues. TPx was also detected in bile fluid and bile duct epithelial cells surrounding the flukes two weeks after infection of hamsters with O. viverrini. In addition, TPx was observed in the secondary (small) bile ducts where flukes cannot reach due to their large size. These results suggested that O. viverrini TPx plays a significant role in protecting the parasite against damage induced by reactive oxygen species from inflammation.
liver fluke; Opisthorchis viverrini; peroxiredoxin; thioredoxin peroxidase; thiol-specific antioxidant; antioxidant enzyme
RNA interference (RNAi), used as a tool, has revolutionized the studies of gene function. Long stem-loop dsRNA has been proven the most effective trigger for down-regulating target transcripts in RNAi-positive trypanosomatid parasites. Here we describe a protocol for constructing plasmids that produce long stem-loops by using a single cloning step. Inverted repeats are first obtained by self-ligation of PCR products that contain a randomized segment at one of their ends and then inserted in a plasmid vector. The random sequences create the loop (or “stuffer”) of the hairpin. This methodology was tested in Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis to constitutively knock down the mRNAs for the well-studied paraflagellar rod protein 1 and 2 (PFR1 and PFR2) genes and revealed that mRNA cleavage products are unusually stable in these parasites. The protocol is suitable for any plasmid (for constitutive or inducible expression) and for any organism in which long stem-loops can be used to elicit RNAi.
RNAi; hairpin RNA; inverted repeat cloning; Leishmania braziliensis
Entamoeba histolytica is an important human pathogen and a major health problem worldwide. Many aspects of parasite biology can be studied with the exception of stage conversion, which cannot be reproduced adequately in E. histolytica. The reptile parasite Entamoeba invadens is a vital model system for studying stage conversion since it can be induced to undergo both encystation and excystation with high efficiency in vitro. However, functional studies using E. invadens have been limited by the lack of genetic tools in this species. Here, we report a new method for both transient and stable transfection of E. invadens. These new tools will greatly enhance research into Entamoeba development.
Entamoeba; electroporation; development; stage conversion
Protein palmitoylation is the reversible covalent attachment of palmitic acid onto proteins. This post-translational modification has been shown to play a part in diverse processes such as signal transduction, cellular localization and regulation of protein activity. Although many aspects of protein palmitoylation have been identified in mammalian and yeast cells, little is known of this modification in Toxoplasma gondii. In order to determine the functional role of protein palmitoylation in T. gondii, tachyzoites were treated with the palmitoylation inhibitor 2-bromopalmitate (2-BP). Parasites treated with 2-BP displayed a significant increase in non-circular trails which were longer than those trails left by non-treated parasites. Furthermore, 2-BP treatment reduced the invasion process to the host cells. Long-term treatment of intracellular tachyzoites resulted in major changes in parasite morphology and shape in a dose-dependent manner. These results suggest that palmitoylation could be modifying proteins that are key players in gliding, invasion and cytoskeletal proteins in T. gondii.
Toxoplasma gondii; Protein palmitoylation; 2-bromopalmitate; Gliding; Invasion
Although the mechanisms by which malaria parasites develop resistance to drugs are unclear, current knowledge suggests a main mechanism of resistance is the alteration of target enzymes by point mutation. In other organisms, defects in DNA mismatch repair have been linked to increased mutation rates and drug resistance. We have identified an unusual complement of mismatch repair genes in the Plasmodium genome. An initial functional test of two of these genes (PfMSH2-1 and PfMSH2-2) using a dominant mutator assay showed an elevation in mutation frequency with the PfMSH2-2 homolog, indirectly demonstrating a role for this gene in mismatch repair. We successfully disrupted PbMSH2-2 in the P. berghei laboratory isolate NK65, and showed that this gene is not essential for parasite growth in either the asexual (rodent) or sexual (mosquito) stages of the lifecycle. Although we observed some differences in levels of drug resistance between wild type and mutant parasites, no uniform trend emerged and preliminary evidence does not support a strong link between PbMSH2-2 disruption and dramatically increased drug resistance. We found microsatellite polymorphism in the PbMSH2-2 disrupted parasites in less than 40 life cycles post-transfection, but not in PbMap2K disrupted controls or mosquito passaged wild type parasites, which suggests a possible role for PbMSH2-2 in preventing microsatellite slippage, similar to MSH2 in other organisms. Our studies suggest that Plasmodium species may have evolved a unique variation on the highly conserved system of DNA repair compared to the mismatch repair systems in other eukaryotes.
DNA mismatch repair; Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium berghei; malaria; MSH2; drug resistance
Schistosoma mansoni is responsible for schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that affects 200 million people worldwide. Molecular mechanisms of host-parasite interaction are complex and involve a crosstalk between host signals and parasite receptors. TGF-β signaling pathway has been shown to play an important role in S. mansoni development and embryogenesis. In particular human (h) TGF-β has been shown to bind to a S. mansoni receptor, transduce a signal that regulates the expression of a schistosome target gene. Here we describe 381 parasite genes whose expression levels are affected by in vitro treatment with hTGF-β. Among these differentially expressed genes we highlight genes related to morphology, development and cell cycle that could be players of cytokine effects on the parasite. We confirm by qPCR the expression changes detected with microarrays for 5 out of 7 selected genes. We also highlight a set of non-coding RNAs transcribed from the same loci of protein-coding genes that are differentially expressed upon hTGF-β treatment. These datasets offer potential targets to be explored in order to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the possible role of hTGF-β effects on parasite biology.
Schistosoma mansoni; TGF-β signaling; host-parasite cross talk; microarray analysis; ncRNAs; gene network interactions
Giardia lamblia, an important cause of diarrheal disease, resides in the small intestinal lumen in close apposition to epithelial cells. Since the disease mechanisms underlying giardiasis are poorly understood, elucidating the specific interactions of the parasite with the host epithelium is likely to provide clues to understanding the pathogenesis. Here we tested the hypothesis that contact of Giardia lamblia with intestinal epithelial cells might lead to release of specific proteins. Using established co-culture models, intestinal ligated loops and a proteomics approach, we identified three G. lamblia proteins (arginine deiminase, ornithine carbamoyl transferase and enolase), previously recognized as immunodominant antigens during acute giardiasis. Release was stimulated by cell–cell interactions, since only small amounts of argi-nine deiminase and enolase were detected in the medium after culturing of G. lamblia alone. The secreted G. lamblia proteins were localized to the cytoplasm and the inside of the plasma membrane of trophozoites. Furthermore, in vitro studies with recombinant arginine deiminase showed that the secreted Giardia proteins can disable host innate immune factors such as nitric oxide production. These results indicate that contact of Giardia with epithelial cells triggers metabolic enzyme release, which might facilitate effective colonization of the human small intestine.
Parasite; Cell–cell interaction; Innate immunity; Secretory product; Arginine deiminase; Enolase
Spliced leader trans-splicing adds a short exon, the spliced leader (SL), to pre-mRNAs to generate 5’ ends of mRNAs. Addition of the SL in metazoa also adds a new cap to the mRNA, a trimethylguanosine (m32,2,7GpppN)(TMG) that replaces the typical eukaryotic monomethylguanosine (m7GpppN)(m7G) cap. Both trans-spliced (m32,2,7GpppN-SL-RNA) and not trans-spliced (m7GpppN-RNA) mRNAs are present in the same cells. Previous studies using cell-free systems to compare the overall translation of trans-spliced vs. non-trans-spliced RNAs led to different conclusions. Here we examine the contribution of m32,2,7GpppG-cap and SL sequence and other RNA elements to in vivo mRNA translation and stability in nematode embryos. Although 70–90% of all nematode mRNAs have a TMG-cap, the TMG cap does not support translation as well as an m7G-cap. However, when the TMG cap and SL are present together, they synergistically interact and translation is enhanced, indicating both trans-spliced elements are necessary to promote efficient translation. The SL by itself does not act as a cap-independent enhancer of translation. The poly(A)-tail synergistically interacts with the mRNA cap enhancing translation and plays a greater role in facilitating translation of TMG-SL mRNAs. In general, recipient mRNA sequences between the SL and AUG and the 3’ UTR do significantly contribute to the translation of trans-spliced mRNAs. Overall, the combination of TMG cap and SL contribute to mRNA translation and stability in a manner typical of a eukaryotic m7G-cap and 5’ UTRs, but they do not differentially enhance mRNA translation or stability compared to RNAs without the trans-spliced elements.
Trimethylguanosine cap; spliced leader; translation; trans-splicing; nematode; Ascaris; mRNA stability
PfSUB3 is the third subtilisin-like protease annotated in Plasmodium genome database “PlasmoDB”. The other two members, PfSUB1 and PfSUB2 have been implicated in merozoite egress and invasion in asexual blood stages. In this study, we recombinantly expressed a region of PfSUB3 spanning from Asn334 to Glu769 (PfSUB3c) which encompassed the predicted catalytic domain with all the active site residues and predicted mature region spanning from Thr516 to Glu769 (PfSUB3m) in E. coli. PfSUB3m showed PMSF-sensitive proteolytic activity in in vitro assays. Replacement of active site serine with alanine in PfSUB3m resulted in inactive protein. We found that PfSUB3c and PfSUB3m undergo truncation to produce a 25-kDa species which was sufficient for proteolytic activity. Quantitative real-time PCR, immnufluorescence assay and Western blot analyses revealed that PfSUB3 is expressed at late asexual blood stages. Serine protease activity of PfSUB3 and its expression in the late stages of erythrocytic schizogony are indicative of some possible role of the protease in merozoite egress and/or invasion processes.
Plasmodium falciparum; serine protease; subtilisin-like protease; erythrocytic schizogony
The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum invades human erythrocytes through multiple pathways utilizing several ligand-receptor interactions. These interactions are broadly classified in two groups according to their dependency on sialic acid residues. Here, we focus on the sialic acid-dependent pathway by using purified glycophorins and red blood cells (RBCs) to screen a cDNA phage display library derived from Plasmodium falciparum FCR3 strain, a sialic acid-dependent strain. This screen identified several parasite proteins including the erythrocyte-binding ligand-1, EBL-1. The phage cDNA insert encoded the 69-amino acid peptide, termed F2i, which is located within the F2 region of the DBL domain, designated here as D2, of EBL-1. Recombinant D2 and F2i polypeptides bound to purified glycophorins and RBCs, and the F2i peptide was found to interfere with binding of D2 domain to its receptor. Both D2 and F2i polypeptides bound to trypsin-treated but not neuraminidase or chymotrypsin-treated erythrocytes, consistent with known glycophorin B resistance to trypsin, and neither the D2 nor F2i polypeptide bound to glycophorin B-deficient erythrocytes. Importantly, purified D2 and F2i polypeptides partially inhibited merozoite reinvasion in human erythrocytes. Our results show that the host erythrocyte receptor glycophorin B directly interacts with the DBL domain of parasite EBL-1, and the core binding site is contained within the 69 amino acid F2i region (residues 601–669) of the DBL domain. Together, these findings suggest that a recombinant F2i peptide with stabilized structure could provide a protective function at blood stage infection and represents a valuable addition to a multi-subunit vaccine against malaria.
Malaria; Phage display; Plasmodium falciparum; Erythrocytes; Glycophorin B; EBL-1
The M1-family aminopeptidase PfA-M1 catalyzes the last step in the catabolism of human hemoglobin to amino acids in the Plasmodium falciparum food vacuole. In this study, the structural features of the substrate that promote efficient PfA-M1-catalyzed peptide bond hydrolysis were analyzed. X-Ala and Ala-X dipeptide substrates were employed to characterize the specificities of the enzyme's S1 and S1’ subsites. Both subsites exhibited a preference for basic and hydrophobic sidechains over polar and acidic sidechains. The relative specificity of the S1 subsite was similar over the pH range 5.5 - 7.5. Substrate P1 and P1’ residues affected both Km and kcat, revealing that sidechain-subsite interactions not only drive the formation of the Michaelis complex but also influence the rates of ensuing chemical steps. Only a small fraction of the available binding energy was exploited in interactions between substrate sidechains and the S1 and S1’ subsites, which indicates a modest level of complementarity. There was no correlation between S1 and S1’ specificities and amino acid abundance in hemoglobin. Interactions between PfA-M1 and the backbone atoms of the P1’ and P2’ residues as well as the P2’ sidechain further contributed to the catalytic efficiency of substrate hydrolysis. By demonstrating the engagement of multiple, broad-specificity subsites in PfA-M1, these studies provide insight into how this enzyme is able to efficiently generate amino acids from highly sequence-diverse di- and oligopeptides in the food vacuole.
malaria; peptidase; vacuole; hemoglobin; enzyme kinetics
The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum causes the most deadly parasitic disease worldwide, necessitating the development of interventions that block infection. Yet, preclinical assays to measure inhibition of infection date from the 1980’s and are based on microscopy. Here, we describe the development of a simple flow cytometric assay that can be used to quantitatively assess P. falciparum sporozoite infection in vitro in low and medium throughput. We demonstrate the utility of this assay for assessing both drug inhibition of infection and measuring efficacy of antibodies in blocking parasite infection. This methodology will aid in assessing functional antibody responses to vaccination and novel drugs that prevent mosquito-to-man transmission of malaria.
malaria; assay development; flow cytometry