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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jul 19, 1994; 91(15): 7149–7153.

Primary structure and expression of the dihydropteroate synthetase gene of Plasmodium falciparum.


The enzyme dihydropteroate synthetase (DHPS) from Plasmodium falciparum is involved in the mechanism of action of the sulfone/sulfonamide group of drugs. We describe the cloning and sequencing of the gene encoding the P. falciparum DHPS enzyme and show that it is a bifunctional enzyme that includes dihydro-6-hydroxymethylpterin pyrophosphokinase (PPPK) at the N terminus of DHPS. The gene encodes a putative protein of 83 kDa that contains two domains that are homologous with the DHPS and PPPK enzymes of other organisms. The PPPK-DHPS gene is encoded on chromosome 8 and has two introns. An antibody raised to the PPPK region of the protein was found to recognize a 68-kDa protein that is expressed throughout the asexual life cycle of the parasite. We have determined the sequence of the DHPS portion of the gene from sulfadoxine-sensitive and -resistant P. falciparum clones and identified sequence differences that may have a role in sulfone/sulfonamide resistance.

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