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J Biol Chem. 2002 May 3;277(18):15913-22. Epub 2002 Feb 7.

Purification and molecular characterization of cGMP-dependent protein kinase from Apicomplexan parasites. A novel chemotherapeutic target.

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Department of Human and Animal Infectious Disease Research, Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey 07065, USA.


The trisubstituted pyrrole 4-[2-(4-fluorophenyl)-5-(1-methylpiperidine-4-yl)-1H-pyrrol-3-yl]pyridine (Compound 1) inhibits the growth of Eimeria spp. both in vitro and in vivo. The molecular target of Compound 1 was identified as cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG) using a tritiated analogue to purify a approximately 120-kDa protein from lysates of Eimeria tenella. This represents the first example of a protozoal PKG. Cloning of PKG from several Apicomplexan parasites has identified a parasite signature sequence of nearly 300 amino acids that is not found in mammalian or Drosophila PKG and which contains an additional, third cGMP-binding site. Nucleotide cofactor regulation of parasite PKG is remarkably different from mammalian enzymes. The activity of both native and recombinant E. tenella PKG is stimulated 1000-fold by cGMP, with significant cooperativity. Two isoforms of the parasite enzyme are expressed from a single copy gene. NH(2)-terminal sequence of the soluble isoform of PKG is consistent with alternative translation initiation within the open reading frame of the enzyme. A larger, membrane-associated isoform corresponds to the deduced full-length protein sequence. Compound 1 is a potent inhibitor of both soluble and membrane-associated isoforms of native PKG, as well as recombinant enzyme, with an IC(50) of <1 nm.

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