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Acta Parasitologica

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Volume 63, Issue 1


Molecular target analysis of stearoyl-CoA desaturase genes of protozoan parasites

He Lu
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Microbiology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, People’s Republic of China
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/ Xin Qin
  • Department of Microbiology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, People’s Republic of China
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/ Jing Zhang
  • Department of Microbiology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, People’s Republic of China
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/ Shuang Zhang
  • Department of Microbiology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, People’s Republic of China
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/ Yu Zhu
  • Department of Immunology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, People’s Republic of China
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/ Wei Hua Wu
  • Department of Microbiology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, People’s Republic of China
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Published Online: 2018-01-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ap-2018-0006


Protozoan parasites can synthesize polyunsaturated fatty acids. They possess stearoyl-CoA desaturase to convert stearate into oleate and linoleate. Stearoyl-CoA desaturase are the key enzymes required for the synthesis of unsaturated fatty acids. It seems attractive to evaluate the possibility of using unsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis pathways as drug targets. In this study, the authors investigate codon usage bias, base composition variations and protein sequence in ten available complete stearoyl-CoA desaturase gene sequences from Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum etc. The results show that fatty acid desaturase genes GC content high of parasitic protozoa genes, GC content up to 63.37%, while fatty acid desaturase genes of parasitic protozoa prefers to use codon ending with G/C. In addition, the expected curve was also drawn to reveal the relationship of ENC and GC3s when the codon usage was only subjected to the nucleotide composition constraint. The genes lied on the expected curve in ENC-plot, indicating nucleotide composition constraint played a role in the condon usage pattern. Protein analysis, we find that all proteins are stearoyl-CoA desaturase, have sites of iron-binding active centers and contain three conserved His-rich motifs. If stearoyl-CoA desaturase is unusual to these parasites, it provides basis as a promising target for the development of selective chemical intervention. Therefore, the Bioinformatics analysis of protein and codon can help improve the work of genetic engineering and drug screening.

Keywords: Stearoyl-CoA desaturase gene; protozoan parasites; bioinformatics analysis


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About the article

Received: 2016-11-11

Revised: 2017-08-21

Accepted: 2017-10-09

Published Online: 2018-01-17

Published in Print: 2018-03-26

Citation Information: Acta Parasitologica, Volume 63, Issue 1, Pages 48–54, ISSN (Online) 1896-1851, ISSN (Print) 1230-2821, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ap-2018-0006.

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