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Regulatory elements within the prodomain of Falcipain-2, a cysteine protease of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

  • Author(s): Pandey, Kailash C;
  • Barkan, David T;
  • Sali, Andrej;
  • Rosenthal, Philip J
  • et al.
Abstract

Falcipain-2, a papain family cysteine protease of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, plays a key role in parasite hydrolysis of hemoglobin and is a potential chemotherapeutic target. As with many proteases, falcipain-2 is synthesized as a zymogen, and the prodomain inhibits activity of the mature enzyme. To investigate the mechanism of regulation of falcipain-2 by its prodomain, we expressed constructs encoding different portions of the prodomain and tested their ability to inhibit recombinant mature falcipain-2. We identified a C-terminal segment (Leu(155)-Asp(243)) of the prodomain, including two motifs (ERFNIN and GNFD) that are conserved in cathepsin L sub-family papain family proteases, as the mediator of prodomain inhibitory activity. Circular dichroism analysis showed that the prodomain including the C-terminal segment, but not constructs lacking this segment, was rich in secondary structure, suggesting that the segment plays a crucial role in protein folding. The falcipain-2 prodomain also efficiently inhibited other papain family proteases, including cathepsin K, cathepsin L, cathepsin B, and cruzain, but it did not inhibit cathepsin C or tested proteases of other classes. A structural model of pro-falcipain-2 was constructed by homology modeling based on crystallographic structures of mature falcipain-2, procathepsin K, procathepsin L, and procaricain, offering insights into the nature of the interaction between the prodomain and mature domain of falcipain-2 as well as into the broad specificity of inhibitory activity of the falcipain-2 prodomain.

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