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Evidence for mitochondrial-derived alternative oxidase in the apicomplexan parasite Cryptosporidium parvum: a potential anti-microbial agent target

Roberts, C W and Roberts, F and Henriquez, F L and Akiyoshi, D and Samuel, B U and Richards, T A and Milhous, W and Kyle, D and McIntosh, L and Hill, G C and Chaudhuri, M and Tzipori, S and McLeod, R (2004) Evidence for mitochondrial-derived alternative oxidase in the apicomplexan parasite Cryptosporidium parvum: a potential anti-microbial agent target. International Journal for Parasitology, 34 (3). pp. 297-308. ISSN 0020-7519

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Abstract

The observation that Plasmodium falciparum possesses cyanide insensitive respiration that can be inhibited by salicylhydroxamic acid (SHAM) and propyl gallate is consistent with the presence of an alternative oxidase (AOX). However, the completion and annotation of the P. falciparum genome project did not identify any protein with convincing similarity to the previously described AOXs from plants, fungi or protozoa. We undertook a survey of the available apicomplexan genome projects in an attempt to address this anomaly. Putative AOX sequences were identified and sequenced from both type 1 and 2 strains of Cryptosporidium parvum. The gene encodes a polypeptide of 336 amino acids and has a predicted N-terminal transit sequence similar to that found in proteins targeted to the mitochondria of other species. The potential of AOX as a target for new anti-microbial agents for C. parvum is evident by the ability of SHAM and 8-hydroxyquinoline to inhibit in vitro growth of C. parvum. In spite of the lack of a good candidate for AOX in either the P. falciparum or Toxoplasma gondii genome projects, SHAM and 8-hydroxyquinoline were. found to inhibit the growth of these parasites. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that AOX and the related protein immutans are derived from gene transfers from the mitochondrial endosymbiont and the chloroplast endosymbiont, respectively. These data are consistent with the functional localisation studies conducted thus far, which demonstrate mitochondrial localisation for some AOX and chloroplastidic localization for immutans. The presence of a mitochondrial compartment is further supported by the prediction of a mitochondrial targeting sequence at the N-terminus of the protein and MitoTracker staining of a subcellular compartment in trophozoite and meront stages. These results give insight into the evolution of AOX and demonstrate the potential of targeting the alternative pathway of respiration in apicomplexans. (C) 2003 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.