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Yield improvement and enzymatic dissection of Plasmodium falciparum plasmepsin V

Loymunkong, Chaleampol, Sittikul, Pichamon, Songtawee, Napat, Wongpanya, Ratree, Boonyalai, Nonlawat
Molecular and biochemical parasitology 2019 v.231 pp. 111188
Escherichia coli, Lewis bases, Plasmodium falciparum, catalytic activity, cell adhesion, cysteine, drugs, erythrocytes, heterologous gene expression, malaria, metal ions, mutation, parasites, permeability, plasmepsin, proteins, virulence
To survive within a red blood cell (RBC), malaria parasites establish striking modifications to the permeability, rigidity and cytoadherence properties of the host cell. This is mediated by the export of hundreds of proteins from the parasite into the erythrocyte. Plasmodium falciparum plasmepsin V (PfPMV), is an ER resident aspartic protease that processes proteins for export into the host erythrocyte, plays a crucial role in parasite virulence and survival and is considered a potential malaria drug target. Most attempts at its heterologous expression in Escherichia coli have resulted in mainly the production of insoluble proteins. In this study, we employed a multipurpose fusion tag to improve the production of PfPMV in E. coli. Recombinant PfPMVm, comprising residues 84–521, was substantially obtained in soluble form and could be purified in a single step, yielding a 3.7-fold increase in purified PfPMVm compared to previous reports. Additionally, we have mutated the catalytic residues (D118N and D365N), individually and together, and the unpaired cysteine residue C178 to evaluate the effects on catalytic efficiency. Mutation of D365 had more pronounced effects on the catalytic efficiency than that of D118, suggesting that the D365 may act as a catalytic nucleophile to activate the water molecule. The importance of C178 was also confirmed by the inhibition by metal ions, indicating that C178 is partially involved in the substrate recognition. Collectively, our results describe an improved system to produce recombinant PfPMVm in E. coli and dissect the amino acids involved in catalysis and substrate recognition.