[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have determined the crystal structures of three homologous proteins from the pathogenic protozoans Leishmania donovani, Leishmania major, and Trypanosoma cruzi. We propose that these proteins represent a new subfamily within the isochorismatase superfamily (CDD classification cd004310). Their overall fold and key active site residues are structurally homologous both to the biochemically well-characterized N-carbamoylsarcosine-amidohydrolase, a cysteine hydrolase, and to the phenazine biosynthesis protein PHZD (isochorismase), an aspartyl hydrolase. All three proteins are annotated as mitochondrial-associated ribonuclease Mar1, based on a previous characterization of the homologous protein from L. tarentolae. This would constitute a new enzymatic activity for this structural superfamily, but this is not strongly supported by the observed structures. In these protozoan proteins, the extended active site is formed by inter-subunit association within a tetramer, which implies a distinct evolutionary history and substrate specificity from the previously characterized members of the isochorismatase superfamily. The characterization of the active site is supported crystallographically by the presence of an unidentified ligand bound at the active site cysteine of the T. cruzi structure.
Protein Science 12/2005; 14(11):2887-94. · 2.74 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purine metabolism in the parasite Plasmodium has been identified as a promising target for antimalarial therapies. Purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP) is part of a salvage pathway for the biosynthesis of purines, which are essential for parasite survival. Two crystal structures of PNP from Plasmodium falciparum (PfPNP) in two space groups, each with a single subunit in the asymmetric unit, are described here. One structure, refined to 2.4 A, has an empty nucleoside-binding site and a sulfate ion bound in the phosphate-binding pocket. The second structure, refined to 2.0 A, has the substrate inosine bound to the active centre. Structure comparison reveals alterations in the active site upon ligand binding. The new structures presented here specifically highlight the likely roles of Asp206 and two loops flanking the active site: the beta7-alpha6 loop (residues approximately 161-169) and the beta9-alpha8 loop (residues approximately 208-223). Comparison with PNP in complex with transition-state inhibitors suggests that the purine substrate moves towards the phosphate substrate, rather than vice versa, upon forming the transition state. The single-substrate-containing PfPNP structures also appear to be more flexible than PfPNP bound to inhibitors. Together, these structures serve as a basis for better understanding of ligand binding and mechanism that can be further exploited to optimize the specificity of anti-PfPNP drugs.