Plasmodium falciparum Werner homologue is a nuclear protein and its biochemical activities reside in the N-terminal region

Protoplasma. 2016 Jan;253(1):45-60. doi: 10.1007/s00709-015-0785-6. Epub 2015 Apr 1.


RecQ helicases, also addressed as a gatekeeper of genome, are an inevitable family of genome scrutiny proteins conserved from prokaryotes to eukaryotes and play a vital role in DNA metabolism. The deficiencies of three RecQ proteins out of five are involved in genetic abnormalities like Bloom syndrome (BS), Werner syndrome (WS), and Rothmund-Thomson syndrome (RTS). It is noteworthy that Plasmodium falciparum contains only two members of the RecQ family as opposed to five members present in the host Homo sapiens. In the present study, we report the biochemical characterization of the homologue of Werner (Wrn) helicase from P. falciparum 3D7 strain. Although there are significant sequence conservations between Wrn helicases of both H. sapiens and P. falciparum as well as among all the other Plasmodium species, they contain some peculiar differences also. In silico studies reveal that PfWrn is evolutionarily close to the bacterial RecQ protein. The N-terminal fragment (PfWrnN) contains all the helicase motifs along with all the functional domains and the predicted structure resembles with the human RecQ1 protein, whereas the C-terminal fragment (PfWrnC) contains no significant domain. Biochemical characterization further revealed that purified recombinant PfWrnN shows ATPase and DNA helicase activity in 3' to 5' direction, but PfWrnC lacks the ATPase and helicase activities. Immunofluorescence study shows that PfWrn is expressed in all the stages of intraerythrocytic development of the P. falciparum 3D7 strain and localizes distinctly in the nucleus. This study can be used for further characterization of RecQ helicases that will aid in understanding the physiological significance of these helicases in the malaria parasite.

Keywords: BLM; DNA helicase; Malaria parasite; Nucleic acid unwinding; RecQ; WRN.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Computer Simulation
  • DNA Helicases / metabolism
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nuclear Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nuclear Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nucleotides / metabolism
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protozoan Proteins / chemistry*
  • Protozoan Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Structural Homology, Protein
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Nucleotides
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • DNA Helicases