Heterologous expression of CTP:phosphocholine cytidylyltransferase from Plasmodium falciparum rescues Chinese Hamster Ovary cells deficient in the Kennedy phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis pathway

Sci Rep. 2018 Jun 12;8(1):8932. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-27183-w.


The plasmodial CTP:phosphocholine cytidylyltransferase (PfCCT) is a promising antimalarial target, which can be inhibited to exploit the need for increased lipid biosynthesis during the erythrocytic life stage of Plasmodium falciparum. Notable structural and regulatory differences of plasmodial and mammalian CCTs offer the possibility to develop species-specific inhibitors. The aim of this study was to use CHO-MT58 cells expressing a temperature-sensitive mutant CCT for the functional characterization of PfCCT. We show that heterologous expression of wild type PfCCT restores the viability of CHO-MT58 cells at non-permissive (40 °C) temperatures, whereas catalytically perturbed or structurally destabilized PfCCT variants fail to provide rescue. Detailed in vitro characterization indicates that the H630N mutation diminishes the catalytic rate constant of PfCCT. The flow cytometry-based rescue assay provides a quantitative readout of the PfCCT function opening the possibility for the functional analysis of PfCCT and the high throughput screening of antimalarial compounds targeting plasmodial CCT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology
  • Biocatalysis / drug effects
  • Biosynthetic Pathways / drug effects
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / genetics
  • Choline-Phosphate Cytidylyltransferase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Choline-Phosphate Cytidylyltransferase / genetics
  • Choline-Phosphate Cytidylyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / drug effects
  • Mutation
  • Phosphatidylcholines / biosynthesis*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism*
  • Protozoan Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Temperature


  • Antimalarials
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Choline-Phosphate Cytidylyltransferase