A sustained elevation of free Ca2+ is observed on the rupture and release of merozoites of Plasmodium falciparum from the erythrocytes. The immunoelectron micrographs demonstrate that calmodulin is localized in merozoites. To elucidate the Ca2+ signal of P. falciparum invasion, we attempted to characterize P. falciparum protein kinase 2 (PfPK2), which is homologous to human calcium calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaMK). PfPK2 was purified as a fusion protein that was labeled with [γ-32P]ATP; this labeling was then eliminated by phosphatase. This phosphorylation was eliminated when the putative catalytic lysine residue of PfPK2 was replaced with alanine. PfPK2 phosphorylated histone IIAS as a representative substrate in a Ca2+- and calmodulin-dependent manner. Calmodulin antagonists inhibited the phosphorylation of PfPK2 in vitro and markedly decreased the parasitemia of ring forms in an invasion assay, whereas CaMKII-specific inhibitors had no effect. PfPK2 was localized in the merozoites in the culture of P. falciparum. Thus, purified PfPK2 possesses protein kinase activity in a Ca2+- and calmodulin-dependent manner and the catalytic lysine of this protein was determined. These data suggest that PfPK2 is the Plasmodium protein kinase expressed in the merozoites during the invasion stage.
- Calcium calmodulin-dependent protein kinase
- P. falciparum protein kinase 2
- Plasmodium falciparum
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology