A Plasmodium falciparum FK506-binding protein (FKBP) with peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase and chaperone activities

Paul Monaghan, Angus Bell
Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 2005, 139 (2): 185-95
The immunosuppressive drugs FK506 and rapamycin have anti-malarial properties but their mechanisms of action against malaria parasites remain unknown. The pathway by which these drugs cause immunosuppression in humans is known to involve an FK506-binding protein (FKBP). Homologues of FKBPs have been identified in almost every organism in which they have been sought. Here, we describe the characterisation of the first member of the FKBP family identified in the human malarial parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. This 35-kDa protein, PfFKBP35, comprises a single, N-terminal, FKBP domain and a C-terminal tripartite tetratricopeptide repeat domain. A recombinant form of PfFKBP35, like most other FKBPs, displayed peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase activity that was inhibitable by FK506 and rapamycin. Unusually the phosphatase activity of calcineurin, the target of the FK506-FKBP complex in T-lymphocytes, was inhibited by PfFKBP35 independently of FK506 binding. PfFKBP35 also inhibited the thermal aggregation in vitro of two model substrates, suggesting that it has general chaperone properties. Analysis of the P. falciparum genome database suggested this to be the only FKBP present in the parasite. The function of this protein remains unknown but the presence of tetratricopeptide repeat motifs suggests a role in intracellular protein transport or modulation of protein function.

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