American Chemical Society
bi101397u_si_002.mpg (3.29 MB)

The Neutral Lipid Composition Present in the Digestive Vacuole of Plasmodium falciparum Concentrates Heme and Mediates β-Hematin Formation with an Unusually Low Activation Energy

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posted on 2010-11-30, 00:00 authored by Anh N. Hoang, Rebecca D. Sandlin, Aneesa Omar, Timothy J. Egan, David W. Wright
In eukaryotic cells, neutral lipids serve as major energy storage molecules; however, in Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite responsible for causing malaria in humans, neutral lipids may have other functions during the intraerythrocytic stage of the parasite life cycle. Specifically, experimental data suggest that neutral lipid structures behave as a catalyst for the crystallization of hemozoin, a detoxification byproduct of several blood-feeding organisms, including malaria parasites. Synthetic neutral lipid droplets (SNLDs) were produced by depositing a lipid blend solution comprised of mono- and diglycerides onto an aqueous surface. These lipid droplets are able to mediate the production of brown pigments that are morphologically and chemically identical to hemozoin. The partitioning of heme into these SNLDs was examined by employing Nile Red, a lipid specific dye. Soluble ferriprotoporphyrin IX was observed to spontaneously localize to the lipid droplets, partitioning in a pH-dependent manner with an estimated log P of 2.6. Interestingly, the pH profile of heme partitioning closely resembles that of β-hematin formation. Differential scanning calorimetry and kinetic studies demonstrated that the SNLDs provide a unique environment that promotes hemozoin formation. SNLD-mediated formation of the malaria pigment displayed an activation energy barrier lower than those of individual lipid components. In particular, lipid droplets composed of diglycerides displayed activation barriers lower than those composed of monoglycerides. This difference was attributed to the greater fluidity of these lipids. In conjunction with the known pattern of lipid body proliferation, it is suggested that neutral lipid structures within the digestive vacuole not only are the location of in vivo hemozoin formation but are also essential for the survival of the parasite by functioning as a kinetically competent and site specific mediator for heme detoxification.