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Pure Appl. Chem., 2005, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 281-289

Plasmodium falciparum triosephosphate isomerase: New insights into an old enzyme

Gudihal Ravindra1 and Padmanabhan Balaram1,2

1 Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India
2 Chemical Biology Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore 560064, India

Abstract: Triosephosphate isomerase (TIM), a central enzyme in the glycolytic pathway, has been the subject of extensive structural and mechanistic investigations over the past 30 years. The TIM barrel is the prototype of the (β/α)8 barrel fold, which is one of the most extensively used structural motifs in enzymes. Mechanistic studies on TIM from a variety of sources have emphasized the importance of loop 6 dynamics for enzyme activity. Several conserved residues in TIM have been investigated by extensive site-directed mutagenesis of the enzyme from yeast, chicken, and trypanosoma. The cloning and sequencing of the TIM gene from the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum in 1993 revealed the unexpected mutation of a hitherto conserved residue serine (S96) to phenylalanine (F96). Subsequent results from the genome sequencing programs of Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, and Plasmodium yoelii confirmed the presence of the S96F mutation in malarial parasites. The crystal structure of PfTIM and several inhibitor complexes, including a high-resolution (1.1 Å) structure of the PfTIM 2-phosphoglycerate complex, revealed that loop 6 had a propensity to remain open, even in several ligand bound structures. Furthermore, both open and closed forms could be characterized for the same complex. Since glycolysis is the primary source of ATP for the malarial parasite during the intraerythrocytic stage, glycolytic enzymes present themselves as potential targets for inhibitors. Two distinct approaches have been explored. The use of dimer interface peptides, which interfere with assembly, has proved promising. Inactivation of the enzyme by modification of a cysteine (C13) residue, which lies close to the active site residue, lysine (K12) is another potential strategy. The differential reactivity, of the four-cysteine residues, at positions 13, 126, 196, and 217 in each subunit has been established using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Studies of single tryptophan mutants (W11F and W168F) of PfTIM provide a probe to study folding, stability, and inhibitor interactions.