Salvage and de novo synthesis of nucleotides in Trypanosoma brucei and mammalian cells

by Fijolek, Artur

Abstract (Summary)
All living cells are dependent on nucleic acids for their survival. The genetic information stored in DNA is translated into functional proteins via a messenger molecule, the ribonucleic acid (RNA). Since DNA and RNA can be considered as polymers of nucleotides (NTPs), balanced pools of NTPs are crucial to nucleic acid synthesis and repair. The de novo reduction of ribonucleoside diphosphates (NDPs) to deoxyribonucleoside diphosphates (dNDPs), the precursors for DNA synthesis, is catalyzed by the enzyme ribonucleotide reductase (RNR). In cycling cells the dominant form of mammalian RNR consists of two proteins called R1 and R2. A proteasome-mediated degradation completely deprives postmitotic cells of R2 protein. The nonproliferating cells use instead a p53 inducible small RNR subunit, called p53R2 to synthesize dNTPs for mitochondrial DNA replication and DNA repair. To address the ongoing controversy regarding the localization and subsequently function and regulation of RNR subunits, the subcellular localization of all the mammalian RNR subunits during the cell cycle and after DNA damage was followed as a part of this thesis. Irrespective of the employed methodology, only a cytosolic localization could be observed leading to a conclusion that the dNTPs are synthesized in the cytosol and transported into the nucleus or mitochondria for DNA synthesis and repair. Thus, our data do not support the suggestion that nuclear translocation is a new additional mechanism regulating ribonucleotide reduction in mammalian cells.In an attempt to find a cure for African sleeping sickness, a lethal disease caused by a human pathogen, Trypanosoma brucei, nucleotide metabolism of the parasite was studied. The trypanosomes exhibit strikingly low CTP pools compared with mammalian cells and they also lack salvage of cytidine/cytosine making the parasite CTP synthetase a potential target for treatment of the disease. Following expression, purification and kinetic studies of the recombinant T. brucei CTP synthetase it was found that the enzyme has a higher Km value for UTP than the mammalian CTP synthetase. In combination with a lower UTP pool the high Km may account for the low CTP pool in trypanosomes. The activity of the trypanosome CTP synthetase was irreversibly inhibited by the glutamine analog acivicin, a drug extensively tested as an antitumor agent. Daily injections of acivicin to trypanosome-infected mice were sufficient to suppress the parasite infections. The drug was shown to be trypanocidal when added to cultured bloodstream T. brucei for four days at 1 uM concentration. Therefore, acivicin may qualify as a drug with “desirable” properties, i.e. cure within 7 days, according to the current Target Product Profiles of WHO and DNDi. Trypanosomes lack de novo purine biosynthesis and are therefore dependent on exogenous purines such as adenosine that is taken up from the blood by high-affinity transporters. We found that besides the cleavage-dependent pathway, where adenosine is converted to adenine by inosine-adenosine-guanosine-nucleoside hydrolase, T. brucei can also salvage adenosine by adenosine kinase (AK). The efficient adenosine transport combined with a high-affinity AK yields a strong salvage system in T. brucei, but on the other hand makes the parasites highly sensitive to adenosine analogs such as adenine arabinoside (Ara-A). The cleavage-resistant Ara-A was shown to be readily taken up by the parasites and phosphorylated by the TbAK-dependent pathway, inhibiting trypanosome proliferation and survival by incorporation into nucleic acids and by affecting nucleotide levels in the parasite.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Umeå universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Chemistry; Biochemistry; nucleotides; ribonucleotide reductase; Ara-A; p53R2; Trypanosoma brucei; African sleeping sickness; trypanosomiasis; CTP synthetase; adenosine kinase; acivicin; adenine arabinoside


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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