Friday, September 30, 2016

Characterization of aspartyl aminopeptidase from Toxoplasma gondii

 2016 Sep 28;6:34448. doi: 10.1038/srep34448.


Aminopeptidases have emerged as new promising drug targets for the development of novel anti-parasitic drugs. An aspartyl aminopeptidase-like gene has been identified in the Toxoplasma gondii genome (TgAAP), although its function remains unknown. In this study, we characterized TgAAP and performed functional analysis of the gene product. Firstly, we expressed a functional recombinant TgAAP (rTgAAP) protein in Escherichia coli, and found that it required metal ions for activity and showed a substrate preference for N-terminal acidic amino acids Glu and Asp. Then, we evaluated the function and drug target potential of TgAAP using the CRISPR/Cas9 knockout system. Western blotting demonstrated the deletion of TgAAP in the knockout strain. Indirect immunofluorescence analysis showed that TgAAP was localized in the cytoplasm of the wild-type parasite, but was not expressed in the knockout strain. Phenotype analysis revealed that TgAAP knockout inhibited the attachment/invasion, replication, and substrate-specific activity in T. gondii. Finally, the activity of drug CID 23724194, previously described as targeting Plasmodium and malarial parasite AAP, was tested against rTgAAP and the parasite. Overall, TgAAP knockout affected the growth of T. gondii but did not completely abolish parasite replication and growth. Therefore, TgAAP may comprise a useful adjunct drug target of T. gondii.

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