BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Structure of Essential Malaria Parasite Enzyme Determined
Published: November 23, 2011
Posted: February 24, 2012

The three-dimensional structures of proteins and other macromolecules often provide a starting point for designing new approaches to solving problems in a wide range of applications from bioenergy to medicine. The high-resolution structure of a specific protein can be used to identify small molecules that would bind to the protein and increase or decrease its activity to achieve a desired change in a biological system. A new study has determined the structures of an enzyme found in the malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum). The enzyme is not found in humans but is required by the parasite for the formation of its outer membrane. Several high-resolution structures were obtained for the enzyme in several stages of its functioning as well as with a small molecule that inhibits it. The structural information helped identify the enzyme’s active site and will be used as a starting point to seek drugs to treat infections by the malaria parasite. The results, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, were obtained by scientists from Washington University at the highly productive beamline 19ID of the DOE Structural Biology Center at Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source.

Reference: Lee, S. G., Y. Kim, T. D. Alpert, A. Nagata, and J. M. Jez. 2012. "Structure and Reaction Mechanism of Phosphoethanolamine Methyltransferase from the Malaria Parasite Plasmodium falciparum," Journal of Biological Chemistry 287, 1426-1434, DOI: 10.1074/jbcM111.315267. (Reference link)

Contact: Roland F. Hirsch, SC-23.2, (301) 903-9009
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Structural Biology, Biomolecular Characterization and Imaging
  • Research Area: Structural Biology Infrastructure

Division: SC-33.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)