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Leishmania parasites are pteridine auxotrophs that use an NADPH-dependent pteridine reductase 1 (PTR1) and NADH-dependent quinonoid dihydropteridine reductase (QDPR) to salvage and maintain intracellular pools of tetrahydrobiopterin (H4B). However, the African trypanosome lacks a credible candidate-QDPR in its genome despite maintaining apparent QDPR activity. Here we provide evidence that the NADH-dependent activity previously reported by others is an assay artifact. Using an HPLC-based enzyme assay, we demonstrate that there is an NADPH-dependent QDPR activity associated with both TbPTR1 and LmPTR1. The kinetic properties of recombinant PTR1s are reported at physiological pH and ionic strength and compared with LmQDPR. Specificity constants (k(cat)/K-m) for LmPTR1 are similar with dihydrobiopterin (H2B) and quinonoid dihydrobiopterin (qH(2)B) as substrates and about 20-fold lower than LmQDPR with qH(2)B. In contrast, TbPTR1 shows a 10-fold higher k(cat)/K-m for H2B over qH(2)B. Analysis of Trypanosoma brucei isolated from infected rats revealed that H4B (430 nM, 98% of total biopterin) was the predominant intracellular pterin, consistent with a dual role in the salvage and regeneration of H4B. Gene knock-out experiments confirmed this: PTR1-nulls could only be obtained from lines overexpressing LmQDPR with H4B as a medium supplement. These cells grew normally with H4B, which spontaneously oxidizes to qH(2)B, but were unable to survive in the absence of pterin or with either biopterin or H2B in the medium. These findings establish that PTR1 has an essential and dual role in pterin metabolism in African trypanosomes and underline its potential as a drug target.
- TETRAHYDROBIOPTERIN BIOSYNTHESIS
- METHOTREXATE RESISTANCE
- THYMIDYLATE SYNTHASE
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