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Exp Parasitol. 2012 Jun;131(2):261-6. doi: 10.1016/j.exppara.2012.04.013. Epub 2012 Apr 27.

Babesia bovis: a bipartite signal directs the glutamyl-tRNA synthetase to the apicoplast.

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Program of Genomics, Department of Veterinary Microbiology & Pathology, Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-7040, USA.


Babesia bovis contains a prokaryotic derived organelle known as the apicoplast. Many participants of the metabolic pathways within the apicoplast are encoded in the nuclear genome and post-translationally imported with the help of a bipartite signal. Recently, an all encompassing algorithm was derived to predict apicoplast targeted proteins for many non-Plasmodium apicomplexans in which it reported the presence of 260 apicoplast targeted proteins in Babesia. One of these proteins is glutamyl tRNA synthetase (GltX). This study investigates if the putative bipartite signal of GltX alone is sufficient to direct proteins into the apicoplast. Using a transient transfection system consisting of a green fluorescent protein as the reporter, we tested the signal and transit portions of the bipartite signal in apicoplastic transport. We first identified the transcript of gltX to be expressed during the asexual blood stages and subsequently confirmed that the complete bipartite signal is responsible for directing the reporter protein into a compartment distinct from the nucleus and the mitochondrion. As GltX bipartite signal successfully guided the reporter protein into the apicoplast, our finding implies that it also directs native GltX into the same organelle.

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