Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 19428664
Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 2009 Jun;165(2):170-9
Trypanosoma cruzi proline racemases (TcPRAC) are the only eukaryotic proline racemases described so far. Except their role in the interconversion of free L- and D-proline enantiomers, parasite TcPRACs are involved in major T. cruzi biological pathways. These essential enzymes are implicated in the process of parasite differentiation and the acquisition of virulence during metacyclogenesis and are currently considered as key targets for drug development against Chagas’ disease. In this study, we searched for the presence of TcPRAC gene homologues among other trypanosomatid genomes. Despite the high degree of gene synteny observed in Kinetoplastidae genomes, PRAC genes are missing in Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma congolense and Leishmania spp. genomes. Interestingly, we identified a hypothetical PRAC gene in Trypanosoma vivax that is the major hemoparasite responsible for livestock trypanosomiasis, a serious economical impact for most of African and South American countries. We report here that the product of this T. vivax gene is bona fide a proline racemase with an activity comparable to the one we described previously for TcPRAC. Inhibition studies using the pyrrole-2-carboxylic acid confirmed that this compound is a competitive inhibitor for both TcPRAC and TvPRAC enzymes. Similarly to TcPRAC and all members of the racemase family studied so far in other pathogenic and nosocomial bacteria, our results show that TvPRAC is a T-cell-independent B-cell mitogen. Therefore the product of the novel TvPRAC gene identified in T. vivax and reported herein has the potential to be used as a drug target for this parasite-based trypanosomiasis.