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J Biol Chem. 2001 Mar 2;276(9):6516-23. Epub 2000 Dec 5.

Characterization of transsulfuration and cysteine biosynthetic pathways in the protozoan hemoflagellate, Trypanosoma cruzi. Isolation and molecular characterization of cystathionine beta-synthase and serine acetyltransferase from Trypanosoma.

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Department of Parasitology, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 1-23-1 Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8640, Japan.


Sulfur-containing amino acids play an important role in a variety of cellular functions such as protein synthesis, methylation, and polyamine and glutathione synthesis. We cloned and characterized cDNA encoding cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS), which is a key enzyme of transsulfuration pathway, from a hemoflagellate protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. T. cruzi CBS, unlike mammalian CBS, lacks the regulatory carboxyl terminus, does not contain heme, and is not activated by S-adenosylmethionine. T. cruzi CBS mRNA is expressed as at least six independent isotypes with sequence microheterogeneity from tandemly linked multicopy genes. The enzyme forms a homotetramer and, in addition to CBS activity, the enzyme has serine sulfhydrylase and cysteine synthase (CS) activities in vitro. Expression of the T. cruzi CBS in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli demonstrates that the CBS and CS activities are functional in vivo. Enzymatic studies on T. cruzi extracts indicate that there is an additional CS enzyme and stage-specific control of CBS and CS expression. We also cloned and characterized cDNA encoding serine acetyltransferase (SAT), a key enzyme in the sulfate assimilatory cysteine biosynthetic pathway. Dissimilar to bacterial and plant SAT, a recombinant T. cruzi SAT showed allosteric inhibition by l-cysteine, l-cystine, and, to a lesser extent, glutathione. Together, these studies demonstrate the T. cruzi is a unique protist in possessing both transsulfuration and sulfur assimilatory pathways.

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