Biochemical and biophysical research communications

Expression and characterization of the Plasmodium translocon of the exported proteins component EXP2.

PMID 27865834


The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum requires the Plasmodium translocon of exported proteins (PTEX) to proliferate in human red blood cells. During the blood stages of malaria, several hundred parasite-encoded proteins are exported from the parasite into the cytosol of red blood cells. PTEX is the translocon for protein export and comprises 5 proteins: EXP2, PTEX150, PTEX88, Hsp101 and TRX2. Among them, EXP2 is thought to constitute the transmembrane pore, whereas the other components seem to play a role in unfolding the luggage proteins or providing a driving force. However, detailed functional and structural characterizations of PTEX proteins have not been performed. In this study, we expressed and characterized the membrane-associated component EXP2. Because expression of EXP2 is lethal to E.xa0coli, EXP2 was expressed as a fusion protein with GST, and the recombinant EXP2 was obtained by protease digestion. The recombinant EXP2 formed pores in bilayer lipid membranes. The inner diameter of the pore was estimated to be approximately 3.5xa0nm based on electron microscopy images and channel currents. From this size and the molecular mass as determined by size exclusion chromatography and blue native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, we determined that the pore comprises approximately 10-12 EXP2 subunits. However, there is a possibility that the pore structure is different in the PTEX complex. These results provide important insights in the protein transport mechanism of PTEX, which will aid in developing new drugs targeting PTEX.