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Title: Characterisation of Plasmodium falciparum Pfnek3, an atypical MAP kinase activator
Authors: LYE YU MIN
Keywords: Malaria, Plasmodium, parasite, kinase, signalling, phosphoprotein
Issue Date: 13-Dec-2007
Citation: LYE YU MIN (2007-12-13). Characterisation of Plasmodium falciparum Pfnek3, an atypical MAP kinase activator. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways are well-conserved in eukaryotes. Whole-genome sequences do not support the presence of MAPK pathways in the malaria parasite, <i>Plasmodium falciparum</i>. This raises the possibility of its dependence on alternative MAPK pathways. In this study, Pfnek3 was found to encode an unusual protein kinase. Sequence alignment showed its distance from known MAPKKs and instead, a similarity to another protein kinase, NIMA (Never in Mitosis, Aspergillus). Classical kinase motifs (e.g. an ATP-binding glycine triad) were not obvious. Immunofluorescence microscopy indicates that Pfnek3 is expressed during late asexual to gametocyte stages. Recombinant Pfnek3 was produced for kinase assays and was found to be capable of phosphorylating Pfmap2, a malarial MAPK, at position T290 which lies within the popularly-conserved TSH activation site of most MAPKs. In summary, this study has shown that <i>P. falciparum</i> may rely on unusual malarial NIMA-kinases that can function as upstream MAPK kinases.
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