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Trends Parasitol. 2014 Jul;30(7):350-60. doi: 10.1016/j.pt.2014.05.003. Epub 2014 Jun 19.

Acylation in trypanosomatids: an essential process and potential drug target.

Author information

1
Departments of Pathology and Microbiology-Immunology, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
2
Department of Genetics and Biochemistry, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA.
3
Departments of Pathology and Microbiology-Immunology, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Electronic address: d-engman@northwestern.edu.

Abstract

Fatty acylation--the addition of fatty acid moieties such as myristate and palmitate to proteins--is essential for the survival, growth, and infectivity of the trypanosomatids: Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi, and Leishmania. Myristoylation and palmitoylation are critical for parasite growth, targeting and localization, and the intrinsic function of some proteins. The trypanosomatids possess a single N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) and multiple palmitoyl acyltransferases, and these enzymes and their protein targets are only now being characterized. Global inhibition of either process leads to cell death in trypanosomatids, and genetic ablation of NMT compromises virulence. Moreover, NMT inhibitors effectively cure T. brucei infection in rodents. Thus, protein acylation represents an attractive target for the development of new trypanocidal drugs.

KEYWORDS:

myristoylation; palmitoylation; trafficking; virulence

PMID:
24954795
PMCID:
PMC4190163
DOI:
10.1016/j.pt.2014.05.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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