Organisation and Sequence Determination of Glutamine-Dependent Carbamoyl Phosphate Synthetase II in Toxoplasma Gondii

Int J Parasitol. 2003 Jan;33(1):89-96. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7519(02)00214-x.


Carbamoyl phosphate synthetase II encodes the first enzymic step of de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis. Carbamoyl phosphate synthetase II is essential for Toxoplasma gondii replication and virulence. In this study, we characterised the primary structure of a 28kb gene encoding Toxoplasma gondii carbamoyl phosphate synthetase II. The carbamoyl phosphate synthetase II gene was interrupted by 36 introns. The predicted protein encoded by the 37 carbamoyl phosphate synthetase II exons was a 1,687 amino acid polypeptide with an N-terminal glutamine amidotransferase domain fused with C-terminal carbamoyl phosphate synthetase domains. This bifunctional organisation of carbamoyl phosphate synthetase II is unique, so far, to protozoan parasites from the phylum Apicomplexa (Plasmodium, Babesia, Toxoplasma) or zoomastigina (Trypanosoma, Leishmania). Apicomplexan parasites possessed the largest carbamoyl phosphate synthetase II enzymes due to insertions in the glutamine amidotransferase and carbamoyl phosphate synthetase domains that were not present in the corresponding gene segments from bacteria, plants, fungi and mammals. The C-terminal allosteric regulatory domain, the carbamoyl phosphate synthetase linker domain and the oligomerisation domain were also distinct from the corresponding domains in other species. The novel C-terminal regulatory domain may explain the lack of activation of Toxoplasma gondii carbamoyl phosphate synthetase II by the allosteric effector 5-phosphoribosyl 1-pyrophosphate. Toxoplasma gondii growth in vitro was markedly inhibited by the glutamine antagonist acivicin, an inhibitor of glutamine amidotransferase activity typically associated with carbamoyl phosphate synthetase II, guanosine monophosphate synthetase, or CTP synthetase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Carbamoyl-Phosphate Synthase (Glutamine-Hydrolyzing) / genetics*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genes, Protozoan
  • Introns / genetics
  • Isoxazoles / pharmacology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plasmids
  • Species Specificity
  • Toxoplasma / drug effects
  • Toxoplasma / enzymology
  • Toxoplasma / genetics*
  • Toxoplasma / growth & development
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Isoxazoles
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Carbamoyl-Phosphate Synthase (Glutamine-Hydrolyzing)
  • acivicin