Atypical lipid composition in the purified relict plastid (apicoplast) of malaria parasites

Cyrille Y Botte, Yoshiki Yamaryo, Thusitha Wasantha Thilaka Rupasinghe, Kylie A Mullin, James Ian MacRae, Timothy Spurck, Ming Kalanon, Melanie J Shears, Ross Leon Coppel, Paul Kaighin Crellin, Eric Marechal, Malcolm J McConville, Geoffrey I McFadden

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The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum harbors a relict, nonphotosynthetic plastid of algal origin termed the apicoplast. Although considerable progress has been made in defining the metabolic functions of the apicoplast, information on the composition and biogenesis of the four delimiting membranes of this organelle is limited. Here, we report an efficient method for preparing highly purified apicoplasts from red blood cell parasite stages and the comprehensive lipidomic analysis of this organelle. Apicoplasts were prepared from transgenic parasites expressing an epitope-tagged triosephosphate transporter and immunopurified on magnetic beads. Gas and liquid chromatography MS analyses of isolated apicoplast lipids indicated significant differences compared with total parasite lipids. In particular, apicoplasts were highly enriched in phosphatidylinositol, consistent with a suggested role for phosphoinositides in targeting membrane vesicles to apicoplasts. Apicoplast phosphatidylinositol and other phospholipids were also enriched in saturated fatty acids, which could reflect limited acyl exchange with other membrane phospholipids and/or a requirement for specific physical properties. Lipids atypical for plastids (sphingomyelins, ceramides, and cholesterol) were detected in apicoplasts. The presence of cholesterol in apicoplast membranes was supported by filipin staining of isolated apicoplasts. Galactoglycerolipids, dominant in plant and algal plastids, were not detected in P. falciparum apicoplasts, suggesting that these glycolipids are a hallmark of photosynthetic plastids and were lost when these organisms assumed a parasitic lifestyle. Apicoplasts thus contain an atypical melange of lipids scavenged from the human host alongside lipids remodeled by the parasite cytoplasm, and stable isotope labeling shows some apicoplast lipids are generated de novo by the organelle itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7506 - 7511
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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