Send to

Choose Destination
J Biol Chem. 2005 Apr 1;280(13):12461-6. Epub 2005 Jan 21.

In vivo evidence for the specificity of Plasmodium falciparum phosphoethanolamine methyltransferase and its coupling to the Kennedy pathway.

Author information

Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Department of Genetics and Developmental Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030, USA.


Unlike humans and yeast, Plasmodium falciparum, the agent of the most severe form of human malaria, utilizes host serine as a precursor for the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine via a plant-like pathway involving phosphoethanolamine methylation. The monopartite phosphoethanolamine methyltransferase, Pfpmt, plays an important role in the biosynthetic pathway of this major phospholipid by providing the precursor phosphocholine via a three-step S-adenosyl-L-methionine-dependent methylation of phosphoethanolamine. In vitro studies showed that Pfpmt has strong specificity for phosphoethanolamine. However, the in vivo substrate (phosphoethanolamine or phosphatidylethanolamine) is not yet known. We used yeast as a surrogate system to express Pfpmt and provide genetic and biochemical evidence demonstrating the specificity of Pfpmt for phosphoethanolamine in vivo. Wild-type yeast cells, which inherently lack phosphoethanolamine methylation, acquire this activity as a result of expression of Pfpmt. The Pfpmt restores the ability of a yeast mutant pem1Deltapem2Delta lacking the phosphatidylethanolamine methyltransferase genes to grow in the absence of choline. Lipid analysis of the Pfpmt-complemented pem1Deltapem2Delta strain demonstrates the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine but not the intermediates of phosphatidylethanolamine transmethylation. Complementation of the pem1Deltapem2Delta mutant relies on specific methylation of phosphoethanolamine but not phosphatidylethanolamine. Interestingly, a mutation in the yeast choline-phosphate cytidylyltransferase gene abrogates the complementation by Pfpmt thus demonstrating that Pfpmt activity is directly coupled to the Kennedy pathway for the de novo synthesis of phosphatidylcholine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center