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1.  Combined Spatial Limitation around Residues 16 and 108 of Plasmodium falciparum Dihydrofolate Reductase Explains Resistance to Cycloguanil 
Natural mutations of Plasmodium falciparum dihydrofolate reductase (PfDHFR) at A16V and S108T specifically confer resistance to cycloguanil (CYC) but not to pyrimethamine (PYR). In order to understand the nature of CYC resistance, the effects of various mutations at A16 on substrate and inhibitor binding were examined. Three series of mutations at A16 with or without the S108T/N mutation were generated. Only three mutants with small side chains at residue 16 (G, C, and S) were viable from bacterial complementation assay in the S108 series, whereas these three and an additional four mutants (T, V, M, and I) with slightly larger side chains were viable with simultaneous S108T mutation. Among these combinations, the A16V+S108T mutant was the most CYC resistant, and all of the S108T series ranged from being highly to moderately sensitive to PYR. In the S108N series, a strict requirement for alanine was observed at position 16. Crystal structure analyses reveal that in PfDHFR-TS variant T9/94 (A16V+S108T) complexed with CYC, the ligand has substantial steric conflicts with the side chains of both A16V and S108T, whereas in the complex with PYR, the ligand only showed mild conflict with S108T. CYC analogs designed to avoid such conflicts improved the binding affinity of the mutant enzymes. These results show that there is greater spatial limitation around the S108T/N residue when combined with the limitation imposed by A16V. The limitation of mutation of this series provides opportunities for drug design and development against antifolate-resistant malaria.
PMCID: PMC3393428  PMID: 22526319
2.  Conformational Control of Dual Emission by Pyrrolidinyl PNA–DNA Hybrids 
ChemistryOpen  2012;1(4):173-176.
PMCID: PMC3922446  PMID: 24551507
biosensors; fluorescence; nanomaterials; nucleic acids; peptides
3.  Plasmodium serine hydroxymethyltransferase as a potential anti-malarial target: inhibition studies using improved methods for enzyme production and assay 
Malaria Journal  2012;11:194.
There is an urgent need for the discovery of new anti-malarial drugs. Thus, it is essential to explore different potential new targets that are unique to the parasite or that are required for its viability in order to develop new interventions for treating the disease. Plasmodium serine hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT), an enzyme in the dTMP synthesis cycle, is a potential target for such new drugs, but convenient methods for producing and assaying the enzyme are still lacking, hampering the ability to screen inhibitors.
Production of recombinant Plasmodium falciparum SHMT (PfSHMT) and Plasmodium vivax SHMT (PvSHMT), using auto-induction media, were compared to those using the conventional Luria Bertani medium with isopropyl thio-β-D-galactoside (LB-IPTG) induction media. Plasmodium SHMT activity, kinetic parameters, and response to inhibitors were measured spectrophotometrically by coupling the reaction to that of 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase (MTHFD). The identity of the intermediate formed upon inactivation of Plasmodium SHMTs by thiosemicarbazide was investigated by spectrophotometry, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). The active site environment of Plasmodium SHMT was probed based on changes in the fluorescence emission spectrum upon addition of amino acids and folate.
Auto-induction media resulted in a two to three-fold higher yield of Pf- and PvSHMT (7.38 and 29.29 mg/L) compared to that produced in cells induced in LB-IPTG media. A convenient spectrophotometric activity assay coupling Plasmodium SHMT and MTHFD gave similar kinetic parameters to those previously obtained from the anaerobic assay coupling SHMT and 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR); thus demonstrating the validity of the new assay procedure. The improved method was adopted to screen for Plasmodium SHMT inhibitors, of which some were originally designed as inhibitors of malarial dihydrofolate reductase. Plasmodium SHMT was slowly inactivated by thiosemicarbazide and formed a covalent intermediate, PLP-thiosemicarbazone.
Auto-induction media offers a cost-effective method for the production of Plasmodium SHMTs and should be applicable for other Plasmodium enzymes. The SHMT-MTHFD coupled assay is equivalent to the SHMT-MTHFR coupled assay, but is more convenient for inhibitor screening and other studies of the enzyme. In addition to inhibitors of malarial SHMT, the development of species-specific, anti-SHMT inhibitors is plausible due to the presence of differential active sites on the Plasmodium enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3502260  PMID: 22691309
Serine hydroxymethyltransferase ; Plasmodium falciparum ; Plasmodium vivax ; Pyridoxal-5-phosphate dependent enzyme; Thiosemicarbazide
4.  Crystallization and preliminary crystallographic studies of dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthase from Trypanosoma cruzi, the Chagas disease pathogen 
Crystals of complexes of the T. cruzi dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthase enzyme with three antifolates in two space groups have been obtained that diffracted to 2.1–2.8 Å resolution. The antifolates used for cocrystallization were dihydrotriazine-based and quinazoline-based antifolates.
Trypanosoma cruzi dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthase (TcDHFR-TS) was crystallized in complexes with the dihydrotriazine-based or quinazoline-based antifolates C-448, cycloguanil (CYC) and Q-8 in order to gain insight into the interactions of this DHFR enzyme with classical and novel inhibitors. The TcDHFR-TS–C-448–NDP–dUMP crystal belonged to space group C2221 with two molecules per asymmetric unit and diffracted to 2.37 Å resolution. The TcDHFR-TS–CYC, TcDHFR-TS–CYC–NDP and TcDHFR-TS–Q-8–NDP crystals belonged to space group P21 with four molecules per asymmetric unit and diffracted to 2.1, 2.6 and 2.8 Å resolution, respectively. Crystals belonging to the two different space groups were suitable for structure determination.
PMCID: PMC2777052  PMID: 19923744
dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthase; Trypanosoma cruzi; Chagas disease; antifolates
5.  Pyrrolidinyl peptide nucleic acid with α/β-peptide backbone 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2011;2(2):50-59.
We describe herein a new conformationally constrained analog of PNA carrying an alternating α/β amino acid backbone consisting of (2′R,4′R)-nucleobase-subtituted proline and (1S,2S)-2-aminocyclopentanecarboxylic acid (acpcPNA). The acpcPNA has been synthesized and evaluated for DNA, RNA and self-pairing properties by thermal denaturation experiments. It can form antiparallel hybrids with complementary DNA with high affinity and sequence specificity. Unlike other PNA systems, the thermal stability of acpcPNA·DNA hybrid is largely independent of G+C contents, and is generally higher than that of acpcPNA·RNA hybrid with the same sequence. Thermodynamic parameters analysis suggest that the A·T base pairs in the acpcPNA·DNA hybrids are enthalpically stabilized over G·C pairs. The acpcPNA also shows a hitherto unreported behavior, namely the inability to form self-pairing hybrids. These unusual properties should make the new acpcPNA a potentially useful candidate for various applications including microarray probes and antigene agents.
PMCID: PMC3166490  PMID: 21912727
peptide nucleic acid; nucleic acid; DNA recognition; RNA recognition; pre-organization; foldamer; α/β-peptide

Results 1-5 (5)