Expression of a recombinant IRP-like Plasmodium falciparum protein that specifically binds putative plasmodial IREs

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Plasmodium falciparum iron regulatory-like protein (PfIRPa, accession AJ012289) has homology to a family of iron-responsive element (IRE)-binding proteins (IRPs) found in different species. We have previously demonstrated that erythrocyte P. falciparum PfIRPa binds a mammalian consensus IRE and that the binding activity is regulated by iron status. In the work we now report, we have cloned a C-terminus histidine-tagged PfIRPa and overexpressed it in a bacterial expression system in soluble form capable of binding IREs. To overexpress PfIRPa, we used the T7 promoter-driven vector, pET28a(+), in conjunction with the Rosetta(DE3)pLysS strain of E. coli, which carries extra copies of tRNA genes usually found in organisms such as P. falciparum whose genome is (A+T)-rich. The histidine-tagged recombinant protein (rPfIRPa) in soluble form was partially purified using His-bind resin. We searched the plasmodial database, plasmoDB, to identify sequences capable of forming IRE loops using a specially developed algorithm, and found three plasmodial sequences matching the search criteria. In gel retardation assays, rPfIRPa bound three 32P-labeled putative plasmodial IREs with affinity exceeding the affinity for the mammalian consensus IRE. The binding was concentration-dependent and was not inhibited by heparin, an inhibitor of non-specific binding. Immunodepletion of rPfIRPa resulted in substantial inhibition of the signal intensity in the gel retardation assays and in Western blot-determinations of rPfIRPa protein levels. Endogenous PfIRPa retained all three putative 32P-IREs at the same position on the gel as the recombinant PfIRPa. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

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