Characterization of acyl carrier protein and LytB in Babesia bovis apicoplast

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2012 Feb;181(2):125-33. doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2011.10.009. Epub 2011 Oct 25.


The apicoplast is a highly specialized organelle that mediates required functions in the growth and replication of apicomplexan parasites. Despite structural conservation of the apicoplast among different parasite genera and species, there are also critical differences in the metabolic requirements of different parasites and at different stages of the life cycle. To specifically compare apicoplast pathways between parasites that have both common and unique stages, we characterized the apicoplast in Babesia bovis, which has only intraerythrocytic asexual stages in the mammalian host, and compared it to that of Plasmodium falciparum, which has both asexual intraerythrocytic and hepatic stages. Specifically focusing on the type II fatty acid (FASII) and isoprenoid (MEP) biosynthesis pathways, we searched for pathway components and retention of active sites within the genome, localized key components [acyl carrier protein (ACP) and 4-hydroxy-3-methylbut-2-enyl diphosphate reductase (LytB)] to the apicoplast, and demonstrated that the N-terminal bipartite signals of both proteins are required and sufficient for trafficking to the apicoplast lumen. Using specific pharmacologic inhibition, we demonstrated that MEP biosynthesis may be disrupted and its presence is required for intraerythrocytic growth of B. bovis asexual stages, consistent with the genomic pathway analysis and with its requirement in the asexual erythrocytic stages of P. falciparum. In contrast, FASII biosynthesis may or may not be present and specific drug targets did not have any inhibitory effect to B. bovis intraerythrocytic growth, which is consistent with the lack of requirement for P. falciparum intraerythrocytic growth. However, genomic analysis revealed the loss of FASII pathway components in B. bovis whereas the pathway is intact for P. falciparum but regulated to be expressed when needed (hepatic stages) and silent when not (intraerythrocytic stages). The results indicate specialized molding of apicoplast biosynthetic pathways to meet the requirements of individual apicomplexan parasites and their unique intracellular niches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acyl Carrier Protein / metabolism*
  • Babesia bovis / cytology
  • Babesia bovis / enzymology
  • Babesia bovis / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Organelles / enzymology
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Organelles / ultrastructure
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / cytology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / enzymology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism
  • Protein Transport / drug effects


  • Acyl Carrier Protein
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Oxidoreductases