Accessibility of substituted cysteines in TM2 and TM10 transmembrane segments in the Plasmodium falciparum equilibrative nucleoside transporter PfENT1

Sita Nirupama Nishtala, Avish Arora, Jorge Reyes, Myles H. Akabas

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Infection with Plasmodium species parasites causes malaria. Plasmodium parasites are purine auxotrophic. They import purines via an equilibrative nucleoside transporter (ENT). In P. falciparum, the most virulent species, the equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (PfENT1) represents the primary purine uptake pathway. This transporter is a potential target for the development of antimalarial drugs. In the absence of a high-resolution structure for either PfENT1 or a homologous ENT, we used the substituted cysteine accessibility method (SCAM) to investigate the membrane-spanning domain structure of PfENT1 to identify potential inhibitor-binding sites. We previously used SCAM to identify water-accessible residues that line the permeation pathway in transmembrane segment 11 (TM11). TM2 and TM10 lie adjacent to TM11 in an ab initio model of a homologous Leishmania donovani nucleoside transporter. To identify TM2 and TM10 residues in PfENT1 that are at least transiently on the water-accessible transporter surface, we assayed the reactivity of single cysteine-substitution mutants with three methanethiosulfonate (MTS) derivatives. Cysteines substituted for 12 of 14 TM2 segment residues reacted with MTS-ethyl-ammonium-biotin (MTSEA-biotin). At eight positions, MTSEA-biotin inhibited transport, and at four positions substrate transport was potentiated. On an helical wheel projection of TM2, the four positions where potentiation occurred were located in a cluster on one side of the helix. In contrast, although MTSEA-biotin inhibited 9 of 10 TM10 cysteine-substituted mutants, the reactive residues did not form a pattern consistent with either an helix or sheet. These results may help identify the binding site(s) of PfENT1 inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1924-1935
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 8 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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