Identification of proteins associated with specialized (secretory) organelles in apicomplexan parasites

2010 2010

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

Targeting of eukaryotic proteins to subcellular organelles typically involves specific sequence motifs. Apicomplexan parasites, including the human pathogens Plasmodium (malaria) and Toxoplasma, harbor a variety of distinctive organelles of interest as therapeutic targets, including the 'apical complex' (micronemes, rhoptries) required for host cell attachment and invasion, and the 'digestive vacuole' (DV) used by Plasmodium to digest hemoglobin. Unfortunately, the signals involved in targeting proteins to these organelles remain poorly defined; identification has been hampered by the multiplicity of subcellular trafficking pathways, the small number of experimentally validated organellar proteins, and the inaccuracy of gene models (particularly in the first exon that often encodes amino-terminal targeting sequences). This dissertation integrates computational and experimental approaches to facilitate the recognition of specialized organellar proteins in the apicomplexa. Computational analysis of experimental truncations suggested a novel DV targeting motif near the amino-terminus of the cytoplasmic domain, which has been validated by site-directed mutagenesis. Mining the parasite genome yields ∼100 candidate DV proteins, two of which were confirmed experimentally. Microneme proteins lack conserved targeting motifs (beyond the presence of a generic signal peptide) but often harbor adhesive domains. Mining the genomes of twelve parasite species identifies >600 candidate m croneme proteins based on these domain patterns, and seven of eight proteins tested localize to the apical complex. Analysis of available interactome datasets also identifies ∼1,500 potential human partner proteins, including most known receptors. Because identification of organellar targeting signals is frequently compromised by inaccurate genome annotation, a gene model extender was developed based on mapping protein level features to genomic sequence. This strategy improves gene prediction accuracy for P. falciparum, T. gondii and Homo sapiens, particularly with respect to the specificity of first exon recognition. Further studies indicate that the concordance of signal peptide presence/absence in orthologous protein groups can also be used to improve gene models. In aggregate, this research has helped to identify new proteins associated with the specialized organelles of apicomplexan parasites, and confirms the potential of exploiting protein level features to develop more sophisticated models for gene finding.

Indexing (details)

0308: Biostatistics
0715: Bioinformatics
0718: Parasitology
Identifier / keyword
Biological sciences; Apicomplexan parasites; Gene prediction; Organelles
Identification of proteins associated with specialized (secretory) organelles in apicomplexan parasites
Chen, ZhongQiang
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-B 71/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Roos, David S.
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.