Giardia fatty acyl-CoA synthetases as potential drug targets.
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Giardiasis caused by Giardia intestinalis (syn. G. lamblia, G. duodenalis) is one of the leading causes of diarrheal parasitic diseases worldwide. Although limited drugs to treat giardiasis are available, there are concerns regarding toxicity in some patients and the emerging drug resistance. By data-mining genome sequences, we observed that G. intestinalis is incapable of synthesizing fatty acids (FA) de novo. However, this parasite has five long-chain fatty acyl-CoA synthetases (GiACS1 to GiACS5) to activate FA scavenged from the host. ACS is an essential enzyme because FA need to be activated to form acyl-CoA thioesters before they can enter subsequent metabolism. In the present study, we performed experiments to explore whether some GiACS enzymes could serve as drug targets in Giardia. Based on the high-throughput datasets and protein modeling analyses, we initially studied the GiACS1 and GiACS2, because genes encoding these two enzymes were found to be more consistently expressed in varied parasite life cycle stages and when interacting with host cells based on previously reported transcriptome data. These two proteins were cloned and expressed as recombinant proteins. Biochemical analysis revealed that both had apparent substrate preference toward palmitic acid (C16:0) and myristic acid (C14:0), and allosteric or Michaelis-Menten kinetics on palmitic acid or ATP. The ACS inhibitor triacsin C inhibited the activity of both enzymes (IC50 = 1.56 M, K i = 0.18 M for GiACS1, and IC50 = 2.28 M, K i = 0.23 M for GiACS2, respectively) and the growth of G. intestinalis in vitro (IC50 = 0.8 M). As expected from giardial evolutionary characteristics, both GiACSs displayed differences in overall folding structure as compared with their human counterparts. These observations support the notion that some of the GiACS enzymes may be explored as drug targets in this parasite.