bims-toxgon Biomed News
on Toxoplasma gondii metabolism
Issue of 2023‒03‒26
nine papers selected by
Lakesh Kumar
BITS Pilani

  1. Commun Biol. 2023 Mar 22. 6(1): 306
      Toxoplasma gondii is a prevalent zoonotic pathogen infecting livestock as well as humans. The exceptional ability of this parasite to reproduce in several types of nucleated host cells necessitates a coordinated usage of endogenous and host-derived nutritional resources for membrane biogenesis. Phosphatidylethanolamine is the second most common glycerophospholipid in T. gondii, but how its requirement in the acutely-infectious fast-dividing tachyzoite stage is satisfied remains enigmatic. This work reveals that the parasite deploys de novo synthesis and salvage pathways to meet its demand for ester- and ether-linked PtdEtn. Auxin-mediated depletion of the phosphoethanolamine cytidylyltransferase (ECT) caused a lethal phenotype in tachyzoites due to impaired invasion and cell division, disclosing a vital role of the CDP-ethanolamine pathway during the lytic cycle. In accord, the inner membrane complex appeared disrupted concurrent with a decline in its length, parasite width and major phospholipids. Integrated lipidomics and isotope analyses of the TgECT mutant unveiled the endogenous synthesis of ester-PtdEtn, and salvage of ether-linked lipids from host cells. In brief, this study demonstrates how T. gondii operates various means to produce distinct forms of PtdEtn while featuring the therapeutic relevance of its de novo synthesis.
  2. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2023 ;13 1102551
      Apicomplexa phylum includes numerous obligate intracellular protozoan parasites that are life threatening for humans and animals. In this context, Plasmodium falciparum and Toxoplasma gondii are of particular interest, as they are responsible for malaria and toxoplasmosis, respectively, for which efficient vaccines are presently lacking and therapies need to be improved. Apicomplexan parasites have a highly polarized morphology, with their apical end containing specific secretory organelles named rhoptries and micronemes, which depend on the unique receptor and transporter sortilin TgSORT for their biogenesis. In the present study, we took advantage of the subcellular polarity of the parasite to engineer a clonal transgenic Toxoplasma line that expresses simultaneously the green fluorescent protein TgSORT-GFP in the post-Golgi-endosome-like compartment and the red fluorescent protein rhoptry ROP1-mCherry near the apical end. We utilized this fluorescent transgenic T. gondii to develop a miniaturized image-based phenotype assay coupled to an automated image analysis. By applying this methodology to 1,120 compounds, we identified 12 that are capable of disrupting the T. gondii morphology and inhibiting intracellular replication. Analysis of the selected compounds confirmed that all 12 are kinase inhibitors and intramembrane pumps, with some exhibiting potent activity against Plasmodium falciparum. Our findings highlight the advantage of comparative and targeted phenotypic analysis involving two related parasite species as a means of identifying molecules with a conserved mode of action.
    Keywords:  ROP1-mCherry; TgSORT-GFP; Toxoplasma gondii; high-content screening; image-based analysis; malaria parasite; repurposing drugs
  3. bioRxiv. 2023 Mar 06. pii: 2023.03.05.531216. [Epub ahead of print]
      Within a host, pathogens encounter a diverse and changing landscape of cell types, nutrients, and immune responses. Examining host-pathogen interactions in animal models can therefore reveal aspects of infection absent from cell culture. We use CRISPR-based screens to functionally profile the entire genome of the model apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii during mouse infection. Barcoded gRNAs were used to track mutant parasite lineages, enabling detection of bottlenecks and mapping of population structures. We uncovered over 300 genes that modulate parasite fitness in mice with previously unknown roles in infection. These candidates span multiple axes of host-parasite interaction, including determinants of tropism, host organelle remodeling, and metabolic rewiring. We mechanistically characterized three novel candidates, including GTP cyclohydrolase I, against which a small-molecule inhibitor could be repurposed as an antiparasitic compound. This compound exhibited antiparasitic activity against T. gondii and Plasmodium falciparum, the most lethal agent of malaria. Taken together, we present the first complete survey of an apicomplexan genome during infection of an animal host, and point to novel interfaces of host-parasite interaction that may offer new avenues for treatment.
  4. Comput Struct Biotechnol J. 2023 ;21 1893-1906
      The membrane asymmetry regulated by P4-ATPases is crucial for the functioning of eukaryotic cells. The underlying spatial translocation or flipping of specific lipids is usually assured by respective P4-ATPases coupled to conforming non-catalytic subunits. Our previous work has identified five P4-ATPases (TgP4-ATPase1-5) and three non-catalytic partner proteins (TgLem1-3) in the intracellular protozoan pathogen, Toxoplasma gondii. However, their flipping activity, physiological relevance and functional coupling remain unknown. Herein, we demonstrate that TgP4-ATPase1 and TgLem1 work together to translocate phosphatidylserine (PtdSer) during the lytic cycle of T. gondii. Both proteins localize in the plasma membrane at the invasive (apical) end of its acutely-infectious tachyzoite stage. The genetic knockout of P4-ATPase1 and conditional depletion of Lem1 in tachyzoites severely disrupt the asexual reproduction and translocation of PtdSer across the plasma membrane. Moreover, the phenotypic analysis of individual mutants revealed a requirement of lipid flipping for the motility, egress and invasion of tachyzoites. Not least, the proximity-dependent biotinylation and reciprocal immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated the physical interaction of P4-ATPase1 and Lem1. Our findings disclose the mechanism and significance of PtdSer flipping during the lytic cycle and identify the P4-ATPase1-Lem1 heterocomplex as a potential drug target in T. gondii.
    Keywords:  BSA, bovine serum albumin; CDC50, Cell Division Control 50; COS, crossover sequence; Cdc50; DAPI, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; DHFR-TS, dihydrofolate reductase – thymidylate synthase; HFF, human foreskin fibroblast; HXGPRT, hypoxanthine-xanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase; IAA, indole-3-acetic acid; LEM, Ligand Effector Module; Lem1; NBD, nitrobenzoxadiazole; NBD-lipid; P4-ATPase1; PBS, phosphate-buffered saline; Phosphatidylserine; Phospholipid flipping; PtdCho, phosphatidylcholine; PtdEtn, phosphatidylethanolamine; PtdSer, phosphatidylserine; PtdThr, phosphatidylthreonine; UTR, untranslated region; cGMP, cyclic Guanosine Monophosphate; mAID, (mini) auxin-inducible degron
  5. Life Sci Alliance. 2023 Jun;pii: e202201710. [Epub ahead of print]6(6):
      The phylum Apicomplexa contains several parasitic species of medical and agricultural importance. The ubiquitination machinery remains, for the most part, uncharacterised in apicomplexan parasites, despite the important roles that it plays in eukaryotic biology. Bioinformatic analysis of the ubiquitination machinery in apicomplexan parasites revealed an expanded ovarian tumour domain-containing (OTU) deubiquitinase (DUB) family in Toxoplasma, potentially reflecting functional importance in apicomplexan parasites. This study presents comprehensive characterisation of Toxoplasma OTU DUBs. AlphaFold-guided structural analysis not only confirmed functional orthologues found across eukaryotes, but also identified apicomplexan-specific enzymes, subsequently enabling discovery of a cryptic OTU DUB in Plasmodium species. Comprehensive biochemical characterisation of 11 Toxoplasma OTU DUBs revealed activity against ubiquitin- and NEDD8-based substrates and revealed ubiquitin linkage preferences for Lys6-, Lys11-, Lys48-, and Lys63-linked chain types. We show that accessory domains in Toxoplasma OTU DUBs impose linkage preferences, and in case of apicomplexan-specific TgOTU9, we discover a cryptic ubiquitin-binding domain that is essential for TgOTU9 activity. Using the auxin-inducible degron (AID) to generate knockdown parasite lines, TgOTUD6B was found to be important for Toxoplasma growth.
  6. Med Arch. 2022 Dec;76(6): 443-446
      Background: Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite with a worldwide distribution, is considered to infect one-third of all humans. many species. The intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii causes toxoplasmosis. Numerous physiological abnormalities are documented in toxoplasmosis-infected women.Objective: This study aims to demonstrate the connection between cyclophilins, the phospholipase enzyme, and latent toxoplasmosis.
    Methods: The research was carried out between January 2022 and June 2022. out of 150 patients had blood samples drawn, 250 had serum samples drawn from women with toxoplasma gondi infection, and 50 had healthy samples drawn from Hila city, Iraq. To exclude subjects who had any medical disorders, information from the subjects was gathered via an interviewer-managed questionnaire. ELISA was used to examine the serum. Results: About 250 samples from women with infertility were infected with Toxoplasma gondii overall (24%) Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay was utilized to evaluate the levels of phospholipase and cyclophilin, while automated VIDAS family instruments were employed to determine the qualitative and quantitative anti-Toxoplasma-IgG-tests (ELISA). Since there was a substantial difference in the statistical analysis and a significant difference in the cyclophilin protein, parasite infection changed the quantity of the enzyme phospholipase.
    Conclusion: This study put forth the theory that toxoplasmosis infection. Our investigation showed that patients with toxoplasma Gondi infection had higher levels of cyclophilins and phospholipase than control subjects.
    Keywords:  Cyclophilin; Phospholipase; Toxoplasma gondii
  7. Heliyon. 2023 Mar;9(3): e14370
      Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a parasite capable of residing in the brain of their host which influences behaviour changes due to alterations in the neurotransmitters. Consequently, dopamine receptors (DRD) and indoleamine 2, 3 dioxygenase (IDO) dysregulation facilitate the progression of behaviour changes in a host as a response to infection. This study tested the effect of neurotransmitter changes as a result of T. gondii infection on rats cognitive impairment. The T. gondii strain of type I, II and III from Malaysia were previously identified by standard procedures. Sporulated oocysts each of type I, II and III were inoculated separately into three groups of Wistar rats (n = 9) respectively. Two separate control groups received either phosphate buffered saline (PBS) or MK-801 (dizocilpine). Behaviour changes were evaluated at nine weeks post infection in a square box, elevated plus maze and gene expression level of DRD and IDO compounds. The study revealed increased fatal feline attraction, reduced anxiety, decreased DRD and increased IDO gene expression in the T. gondii infected groups and MK-801 compared to the PBS control group. In conclusion, T. gondii infection alter the level of neurotransmitters in rat which cause cognitive impairment. This implies that all the T. gondii strain can cause behaviour changes if human were infected.
    Keywords:  Anxiety; Cognition; Fatal attraction; Gene expression; Malaysia; Neurotransmitters; Rat; Toxoplasma gondii
  8. BMC Microbiol. 2023 03 21. 23(1): 77
      BACKGROUND: Autophagy is an important part of pathogenesis of IBD. Thiopurines such as azathioprine (AZA) are approved drugs for clinical practices in IBD patients. Besides, as an escape strategy, Toxoplasma gondii can use the mTORC1 complex to inactivate autophagy.METHODS: In this study, we investigated whether T. gondii tachyzoites may modulate autophagy and interfere the effects of azathioprine in IBD treatment. PMA-activated human monocyte cell line (THP-1) was infected with fresh T. gondii RH tachyzoites. After 5 h of infection, the cells were treated with AZA for 6 h. The expression of atg5, atg7, atg12, lc3b, and β-actin (BACT) genes was evaluated using quantitative real-time PCR. To analyze the phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 (rpS6), western blot using specific primary antibodies was performed.
    RESULTS: The results of real-time PCR revealed that AZA, T. gondii tachyzoites, and a combination of AZA and T. gondii tachyzoites upregulated atg5 gene for 4.297-fold (P-value = 0.014), 2.49-fold (P-value = 0.006), and 4.76-fold (P-value = 0.001), respectively. The atg7 gene showed significant upregulation (2.272-fold; P-value = 0.014) and (1.51-fold; P-value = 0.020) in AZA and AZA / T. gondii, respectively. The expression of atg12 gene was significantly downregulated in AZA and T. gondii tachyzoites for (8.85-fold; P-value = 0.004) and (2.005-fold; P-value = 0.038), respectively, but upregulated in T. gondii/AZA (1.52-fold; P-value = 0.037). In addition, the lc3b gene was only significantly changed in AZA / T. gondii (3.028-fold; P-value = 0.001). Western blot analysis showed that T. gondii tachyzoites significantly phosphorylated rpS6, and tachyzoites did not interfere the effects of AZA to phosphorylate the rpS6.
    CONCLUSION: Taken together, although AZA and T. gondii similarly affects the expression levels of atg5, atg7, and atg12, but T. gondii does not seem to modulate the effects of AZA via mTORC functions.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Azathioprine; Inflammatory Bowel Diseases; Toxoplasma gondii; mTORC
  9. Curr Res Microb Sci. 2023 ;4 100186
      Stressosomes are signal-sensing and integration hubs identified in many bacteria. At present, the role of the stressosome has only been investigated in Gram-positive bacteria. This work represents the first in vivo characterisation of the stressosome in a Gram-negative bacterium, Vibrio vulnificus. Previous in vitro characterisation of the complex has led to the hypothesis of a complex involved in iron metabolism and control of c-di-GMP levels. We demonstrate that the stressosome is probably involved in reshaping the glucose metabolism in Fe- and nutrient-limited conditions and mutations of the locus affect the activation of the glyoxylate shunt. Moreover, we show that the stressosome is needed for the transcription of fleQ and to promote motility, consistent with the hypothesis that the stressosome is involved in regulating c-di-GMP. This report highlights the potential role of the stressosome in a Gram-negative bacterium, with implications for the metabolism and motility of this pathogen.
    Keywords:  Iron metabolism; Motility; Stress response; Stressosome; Vibrio vulnificus; Virulence