Pfmrk, a MO15-related protein kinase from Plasmodium falciparum. Gene cloning, sequence, stage-specific expression and chromosome localization.
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Cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) play a central role in the regulation of the eukaryotic cell cycle. A novel gene encoding a Cdk-like protein, Pfmrk, has been isolated from the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. The gene has no introns and comprises an open reading frame encoding a protein of 324 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of 38 kDa. Database searches revealed a striking similarity to the Cdk subfamily with the highest similarity to human MO15 (Cdk7). The overall sequence of Pfmrk shares 62% similarity and 46% identity with human MO15, in comparison to the 49-58% similarity and 34-43% identity with other human Cdks. Pfmrk contains two unique inserts: one consisting of 5 amino acids just before the cyclin-binding motif and the other composed of 13 amino acids within the T-loop equivalent region. Southern blots of genomic DNA digests and chromosomal separations showed that Pfmrk is a single-copy gene conserved between several parasite strains and is located on chromosome 10. A 2500-nucleotide transcript of this gene is expressed predominantly in the sexual blood stages (gametocytes), suggesting that Pfmrk may be involved in sexual stage development.
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