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Pubmed ID :8397083
Publication Date : //

The multifunctional folic acid synthesis fas gene of Pneumocystis carinii encodes dihydroneopterin aldolase, hydroxymethyldihydropterin pyrophosphokinase and dihydropteroate synthase.


The nucleotide sequence of a folic acid synthesis (fas) gene from Pneumocystis carinii contains an open reading frame (ORF) that predicts a protein of 740 amino acids with an M(r) of 83,979. A recombinant baculovirus was constructed which directed expression of the predicted Fas740 polypeptide in cultured Spodoptera frugiperda (SF9) insect cells. The overexpressed 'full-length' protein migrated anomalously in sodium dodecyl sulfate/polyacrylamide gels, with an apparent molecular mass of 71.5 kDa. An abundant 69-kDa species was also recognized by polyclonal sera specific for the Fas protein in immunoblotting analyses. Dihydroneopterin aldolase, dihydropterin pyrophosphokinase and dihydropteroate synthase activities were readily detected in SF9 extracts in which the 71.5/69-kDa immunoreactive species were overproduced, demonstrating that three enzyme functions involved in catalysing three sequential steps of the folate biosynthetic pathway are encoded by a single gene in P. carinii. Importantly, the polyclonal sera recognize a single 69-kDa species in P. carinii extracts suggesting that the three activities are indeed properties of a single polypeptide, although the nature of the suggested post-translational modification is unknown. Location of the individual enzyme domains with the Fas polypeptide based upon amino acid sequence similarity to their bacterial counterparts is discussed. Furthermore, expression of various truncated fas gene constructs demonstrates that the complete fas ORF, including the N-terminus of the predicted polypeptide (FasA domain) whose enzyme function is unknown, must be expressed for maximum dihydroneopterin aldolase (FasB domain) and dihydropteroate synthase (FasD domain) activities. This suggests interactions between the domains within the larger polypeptide to stabilize the functions of these two enzymes. The FasC domain, which contains 6-hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin pyrophosphokinase activity, is able to fold and function independently of the other domains. The requirement by mammalian cells for preformed folates, and the absence of dihydroneopterin aldolase, 6-hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin pyrophosphokinase and dihydropteroate synthase from these tissues opens up the possibility of designing highly selective drugs which inhibit these unique targets.

Authors : Volpe F , Ballantine S P , Delves C J ,

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