skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Structure, Function and Inhibition of the Phosphoethanolamine Methyltransferases of the Human Malaria Parasites Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium knowlesi

Phosphoethanolamine methyltransferases (PMTs) catalyze the three-step methylation of phosphoethanolamine to form phosphocholine, a critical step in the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine in a select number of eukaryotes including human malaria parasites, nematodes and plants. Genetic studies in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum have shown that the methyltransferase PfPMT plays a critical function in parasite development and differentiation. The presence of PMT orthologs in other malaria parasites that infect humans and their absence in mammals make them ideal targets for the development of selective antimalarials with broad specificity against different Plasmodium species. Here we describe the X-ray structures and biochemical properties of PMT orthologs from Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium knowlesi and show that both enzymes are inhibited by amodiaquine and NSC158011, two drugs with potent antimalarial activity. Metabolic studies in a yeast mutant that relies on PkPMT or PvPMT for survival demonstrated that these compounds inhibit phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis from ethanolamine. Our structural and functional data provide insights into the mechanism of catalysis and inhibition of PMT enzymes and set the stage for a better design of more specific and selective antimalarial drugs.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [1]
  1. Yale Univ. School of Medicine, New Haven, CT (United States). Dept. of Internal Medicine
  2. Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Chaimpaign, IL (United States). Dept. of Biochemistry; National Jewish Health, Denver, CO (United States). Dept. of Medicine
  3. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States). Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source
  4. Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Chaimpaign, IL (United States). Dept. of Biochemistry
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 5; Journal Issue: 03, 2015; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Advanced Photon Source (APS), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Argonne, IL (US)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC); NIH
Country of Publication:
United States