Protein phosphatase beta, a putative type-2A protein phosphatase from the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
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Protein phosphatases play a critical role in the regulation of the eukaryotic cell cycle and signal transduction. A putative protein serine/threonine phosphatase gene has been isolated from the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. The gene has an unusual intron that contains four repeats of 32 nucleotides and displays a high degree of size polymorphism among different strains of P. falciparum. The open reading frame reconstituted by removal of the intron encodes a protein of 466 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of approximately 53.7 kDa. The encoded protein, termed protein phosphatase beta (PP-beta), is composed of two distinct domains. The C-terminal domain comprises 315 amino acids and exhibits a striking similarity to the catalytic subunits of the type-2A protein phosphatases. Database searches revealed that the catalytic domain has the highest similarity to Schizosaccharomyces pombe Ppa1 (58% identity and 73% similarity). However, it contains a hydrophilic insert consisting of five amino acids. The N-terminal domain comprises 151 amino acid residues and exhibits several striking features, including high levels of charged amino acids and asparagine, and multiple consensus phosphorylation sites for a number of protein kinases. An overall structural comparison of PP-beta with other members of the protein phosphatase 2A group revealed that PP-beta is more closely related to Saccharomyces cerevisiae PPH22. Southern blots of genomic DNA digests and chromosomal separations showed that PP-beta is a single-copy gene and is located on chromosome 9. A 2800-nucleotide transcript of this gene is expressed specifically in the sexual erythrocytic stage (gametocytes). The results indicate that PP-beta may be involved in sexual stage development.
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