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Biochemical and molecular characterization of the pyrimidine biosynthetic enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase fromToxoplasma gondii

Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology
DOI: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2012.04.009
  • Dihydroorotate Dehydrogenase
  • Pyrimidine Biosynthesis
  • Toxoplasma Gondii
  • Mitochondria
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Biology


Abstract The pyrimidine biosynthesis pathway in the protozoan pathogen Toxoplasma gondii is essential for parasite growth during infection. To investigate the properties of dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (TgDHOD), the fourth enzyme in the T. gondii pyrimidine pathway, we expressed and purified recombinant TgDHOD. TgDHOD exhibited a specific activity of 84U/mg, a kcat of 89s−1, a Km=60μM for l-dihydroorotate, and a Km=29μM for decylubiquinone (QD). Quinones lacking or having short isoprenoid side chains yielded lower kcats than QD. As expected, fumarate was a poor electron acceptor for this family 2 DHOD. The IC50s determined for A77-1726, the active derivative of the human DHOD inhibitor leflunomide, and related compounds MD249 and MD209 were, 91μM, 96μM, and 60μM, respectively. The enzyme was not significantly affected by brequinar or TTFA, known inhibitors of human DHOD, or by atovaquone. DSM190, a known inhibitor of Plasmodium falciparum DHOD, was a poor inhibitor of TgDHOD. TgDHOD exhibits a lengthy 157-residue N-terminal extension, consistent with a potential organellar targeting signal. We constructed C-terminally c-myc tagged TgDHODs to examine subcellular localization of TgDHOD in transgenic parasites expressing the tagged protein. Using both exogenous and endogenous expression strategies, anti-myc fluorescence signal colocalized with antibodies against the mitochondrial marker ATPase. These findings demonstrate that TgDHOD is associated with the parasite's mitochondrion, revealing this organelle as the site of orotate production in T. gondii. The TgDHOD gene appears to be essential because while gene tagging was successful at the TgDHOD gene locus, attempts to delete the TgDHOD gene were not successful in the KU80 background. Collectively, our study suggests that TgDHOD is an excellent target for the development of anti-Toxoplasma drugs.

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