Cloning and Characterization of a Novel Form of Tyrosine Hydroxylase from the Human Parasite, Schistosoma mansoni

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Abstract

Abstract:

Catecholamines such as dopamine and noradrenaline play important roles as neuromuscular transmitters and modulators in all parasitic helminths, including the human parasite, Schistosoma mansoni. We have cloned a novel S. mansoni tyrosine hydroxylase (SmTH) cDNA that shows high homology to mammalian tyrosine hydroxylase, the enzyme that catalyzes the first and rate-limiting step in the biosynthesis of catecholamines. Two subsets of SmTH transcripts were identified, one of which carries the S. mansoni spliced-leader (SL) sequence at its 5′ end, whereas the other does not appear to be trans-spliced to the S. mansoni SL. The two types of SmTH transcripts encode the same protein of 465 amino acids and a predicted size of 54 kDa. Expression of SmTH as an N-terminal histidine fusion protein in Escherichia coli produced an active enzyme that was purified ∼52-fold to apparent homogeneity and had a final specific activity of 0.78 μmol/min/mg. The purified enzyme was found to have the same absolute requirement for a tetrahydrobiopterin cofactor and the same sensitivity to inhibition by high concentrations of the substrate, tyrosine, as the mammalian enzyme. Purified SmTH also showed characteristic inhibition by catecholamine products, although the sensitivity to product inhibition was lower than that of the mammalian enzyme. This evidence indicates that SmTH encodes a functional tyrosine hydroxylase that has catalytic properties similar to those of the mammalian host's enzyme but may differ in its properties of regulation. This first demonstration of tyrosine hydroxylase in a parasitic helminth further suggests that the parasites have the enzymatic capacity to synthesize catecholamines endogenously.

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