Efficient expression systems for cysteine proteases of malaria parasites: Too good to be true?

Facultad de Biología, Universidad de la Habana
Bioengineered 09/2012; 4(2). DOI: 10.4161/bioe.22348
Source: PubMed


Papain-like cysteine proteases of malaria parasites are considered important chemotherapeutic targets or valuable models for the evaluation of drug candidates. Consequently, many of these enzymes have been cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli for their biochemical characterization. However, their expression has been problematic, showing low yield and leading to the formation of insoluble aggregates. Given that highly-productive expression systems are required for the high-throughput evaluation of inhibitors, we analyzed the existing expression systems to identify the causes of such apparent issues. We found that significant divergences in codon and nucleotide composition from host genes are the most probable cause of expression failure, and propose several strategies to overcome these limitations. Finally we predict that yeast hosts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Pichia pastoris may be better suited than E. coli for the efficient expression of plasmodial genes, presumably leading to soluble and active products reproducing structural and functional characteristics of the natural enzymes.

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Available from: Emir Salas Sarduy, Feb 10, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Malaria is one of the most infectious diseases in the world. Plasmodium vivax, the pathogen causing endemic malaria in humans worldwide, is responsible for extensive disease morbidity. Due to the emergence of resistance to common anti-malarial drugs, there is a continuous need to develop a new class of drugs for this pathogen. P. vivax cysteine protease, also known as vivapain-2, plays an important role in haemoglobin hydrolysis and is considered essential for the survival of the parasite. The three-dimensional (3D) structure of vivapain-2 is not predicted experimentally, so its structure is modelled by using comparative modelling approach and further validated by Qualitative Model Energy Analysis (QMEAN) and RAMPAGE tools. The potential binding site of selected vivapain-2 structure has been detected by grid-based function prediction method. Drug targets and their respective drugs similar to vivapain-2 have been identified using three publicly available databases: STITCH 3.1, DrugBank and Therapeutic Target Database (TTD). The second approach of this work focuses on docking study of selected drug E-64 against vivapain-2 protein. Docking reveals crucial information about key residues (Asn281, Cys283, Val396 and Asp398) that are responsible for holding the ligand in the active site. The similarity-search criterion is used for the preparation of our in-house database of drugs, obtained from filtering the drugs from the DrugBank database. A five-point 3D pharmacophore model is generated for the docked complex of vivapain-2 with E-64. This study of 3D pharmacophore-based virtual screening results in identifying three new drugs, amongst which one is approved and the other two are experimentally proved. The ADMET properties of these drugs are found to be in the desired range. These drugs with novel scaffolds may act as potent drugs for treating malaria caused by P. vivax.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology