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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Feb;39(4):973-81.

Plasmodium protein phosphatase 2C dephosphorylates translation elongation factor 1beta and inhibits its PKC-mediated nucleotide exchange activity in vitro.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, 660 S Euclid Avenue, Box 8230, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


The elongation step of protein synthesis involves binding of aminoacyl-tRNA to the ribosomal A site, formation of a peptide bond and translocation of the newly formed peptidyl-tRNA to the P site. The nucleotide exchange factor EF-1beta plays a major role in the regulation of this process by regenerating a GTP-bound EF-1alpha necessary for each elongation cycle. EF-1beta has been shown to be phosphorylated and its phosphorylation is critical for optimal activity. We have previously identified a serine/threonine protein phosphatase 2C (PP2C) from the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. In the current work, we performed Far-Western analysis to identify PfPP2C substrates. Several components of the translation and transcription machinery were identified, including translation elongation factor 1-beta (PfEF-1beta). PfEF-1beta is efficiently phosphorylated by protein kinase C and this phosphorylation results in a 400% increase in its nucleotide exchange activity. PKC-phosphorylated PfEF-1beta is readily and selectively dephosphorylated by recombinant and native PfPP2C, which downregulates the nucleotide exchange activity to its basal level. The identification of a translation elongation component as substrate for PP2C suggests an important regulatory function for this enzyme and suggests that it may be a good target for drug design in the fight against malaria.

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