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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1997 Jan;41(1):40-8.

IMP dehydrogenase from Pneumocystis carinii as a potential drug target.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis 46202, USA.


Mycophenolic acid, a specific inhibitor of IMP dehydrogenase (IMPDH; EC, is a potent inhibitor of Pneumocystis carinii growth in culture, suggesting that IMPDH may be a sensitive target for chemotherapy in this organism. The IMPDH gene was cloned as a first step to characterizing the enzyme and developing selective inhibitors. A 1.3-kb fragment containing a portion of the P. carinii IMPDH gene was amplified by PCR with two degenerate oligonucleotides based on conserved sequences in IMPDH from humans and four different microorganisms. Northern hybridization analysis showed the P. carinii IMPDH mRNA to be approximately 1.6 kb. The entire cDNA encoding P. carinii IMPDH was isolated and cloned. The deduced amino acid sequence of P. carinii IMPDH shared homology with bacterial (31 to 38%), protozoal (48 to 59%), mammalian (60 to 62%), and fungal (62%) IMPDH enzymes. The IMPDH cDNA was expressed by using a T7 expression system in an IMPDH-deficient strain of Escherichia coli (strain S phi 1101). E. coli S phi 1101 cells containing the P. carinii IMPDH gene were able to grow on medium lacking guanine, implying that the protein expressed in vivo was functional. Extracts of these E. coli cells contained IMPDH activity that had an apparent Km for IMP of 21.7 +/- 0.3 microM and an apparent Km for NAD of 314 +/- 84 microM (mean +/- standard error of the mean; n = 3), and the activity was inhibited by mycophenolic acid (50% inhibitory concentration, 24 microM; n = 2).

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