Friday, August 24, 2007

Make it or Take it Fatty Acid Metabolism of Apicomplexan Parasites

Eukaryot Cell. 2007 Aug 22; [Epub ahead of print]

Make it or Take it Fatty Acid Metabolism of Apicomplexan Parasites

Mazumdar J, Striepen B

Department of Cellular Biology and Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, University of Georgia, Paul D. Coverdell Center, 500 D.W. Brooks Drive, Athens, Georgia 30602, U.S.A.

Members of the phylum Apicomplexa include the causative agents of numerous important human and life-stock diseases. Apicomplexans are obligate intracellular pathogens and have adapted to a diverse range of hosts and host cells. A key component to the parasite's success is its ability to secure the supply of essential nutrients and metabolic building blocks. Here we focus on fatty acid metabolism, an area that has recently received considerable attention due to its value as a parasite specific drug target. Apicomplexans, long thought to lack the ability to synthesize fatty acids, rely on three independent synthesis pathways, suitable for a parasite some of them apparently taken from other organisms: a fatty acid synthesis (FAS) II pathway obtained with the acquisition of an algal endosymbiont, FASI and polyketide synthases of apparent bacterial origin, and a set of fatty acid elongases. We provide a comparative genomic analysis of these surprisingly diverse pathways for Toxoplasma, Plasmodium, Cryptosporidium and Theileria. Despite this obvious biosynthetic capability apicomplexans also heavily salvage fatty acids and other lipids from their hosts, and mechanistic insights into this process have begun to emerge. We discuss the dramatic recent progress in our understanding of how apicomplexans make and take fatty acids in the light of metabolic adaptation to specific host cell niches.

PMID: 17715365 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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