Mitochondrial NAD+-dependent malic enzyme from Anopheles stephensi: A possible novel target for malaria mosquito control

Jennifer Pon, Eleonora Napoli, Shirley Luckhart, Cecilia R Giulivi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Anopheles stephensi mitochondrial malic enzyme (ME) emerged as having a relevant role in the provision of pyruvate for the Krebs' cycle because inhibition of this enzyme results in the complete abrogation of oxygen uptake by mitochondria. Therefore, the identification of ME in mitochondria from immortalized A. stephensi (ASE) cells and the investigation of the stereoselectivity of malate analogues are relevant in understanding the physiological role of ME in cells of this important malaria parasite vector and its potential as a possible novel target for insecticide development. Methods. To characterize the mitochondrial ME from immortalized ASE cells (Mos. 43; ASE), mass spectrometry analyses of trypsin fragments of ME, genomic sequence analysis and biochemical assays were performed to identify the enzyme and evaluate its activity in terms of cofactor dependency and inhibitor preference. Results: The encoding gene sequence and primary sequences of several peptides from mitochondrial ME were found to be highly homologous to the mitochondrial ME from Anopheles gambiae (98%) and 59% homologous to the mitochondrial NADP +-dependent ME isoform from Homo sapiens. Measurements of ME activity in mosquito mitochondria isolated from ASE cells showed that (i) V max with NAD+ was 3-fold higher than that with NADP +, (ii) addition of Mg2+ or Mn2+ increased the Vmax by 9- to 21-fold, with Mn2+ 2.3-fold more effective than Mg2+, (iii) succinate and fumarate increased the activity by 2- and 5-fold, respectively, at sub-saturating concentrations of malate, (iv) among the analogs of L-malate tested as inhibitors of the NAD+-dependent ME catalyzed reaction, small (2- to 3-carbons) organic diacids carrying a 2-hydroxyl/keto group behaved as the most potent inhibitors of ME activity (e.g., oxaloacetate, tartronic acid and oxalate). Conclusions: The biochemical characterization of Anopheles stephensi ME is of critical relevance given its important role in bioenergetics, suggesting that it is a suitable target for insecticide development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number318
JournalMalaria Journal
StatePublished - 2011


  • bioenergetics
  • inhibitors
  • malaria
  • metabolism
  • mitochondria
  • mosquitoes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology


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