bims-toxgon Biomed News
on Toxoplasma gondii metabolism
Issue of 2022‒09‒25
twenty-two papers selected by
Lakesh Kumar
BITS Pilani

  1. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2022 ;12 959300
      Tumor cells can successfully escape the host immune attack by inducing the production of immunosuppressive cells and molecules, leading to an ineffective tumor treatment and poor prognosis. Although immunotherapies have improved the survival rate of cancer patients in recent years, more effective drugs and therapies still need to be developed. As an intracellular parasite, Toxoplasma gondii can trigger a strong Th1 immune response in host cells, including upregulating the expression of interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ). Non-replicating uracil auxotrophic strains of T. gondii were used to safely reverse the immunosuppression manipulated by the tumor microenvironment. In addition to the whole lysate antigens, T. gondii-secreted effectors, including Toxoplasma profilin, rhoptry proteins (ROPs), and dense granule antigens (GRAs), are involved in arousing the host's antigen presentation system to suppress tumors. When T. gondii infection relieves immunosuppression, tumor-related myeloid cells, including macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs), are transformed into immunostimulatory phenotypes, showing a powerful Th1 immune response mediated by CD8+ T cells. Afterwards, they target and kill the tumor cells, and ultimately reduce the size and weight of tumor tissues. This article reviews the latest applications of T. gondii in tumor therapy, including the activation of cellular immunity and the related signal pathways, which will help us understand why T. gondii infection can restrain tumor growth.
    Keywords:  CD8 + T cell; Toxoplasma gondii; avirulent T. gondii strains; dendritic cells (DCs); immunotherapy; tumor suppression
  2. mBio. 2022 Sep 21. e0196622
      Prenyldiphosphate synthases catalyze the reaction of allylic diphosphates with one or more isopentenyl diphosphate molecules to form compounds such as farnesyl diphosphate, used in, e.g., sterol biosynthesis and protein prenylation, as well as longer "polyprenyl" diphosphates, used in ubiquinone and menaquinone biosynthesis. Quinones play an essential role in electron transport and are associated with the inner mitochondrial membrane due to the presence of the polyprenyl group. In this work, we investigated the synthesis of the polyprenyl diphosphate that alkylates the ubiquinone ring precursor in Toxoplasma gondii, an opportunistic pathogen that causes serious disease in immunocompromised patients and the unborn fetus. The enzyme that catalyzes this early step of the ubiquinone synthesis is Coq1 (TgCoq1), and we show that it produces the C35 species heptaprenyl diphosphate. TgCoq1 localizes to the mitochondrion and is essential for in vitro T. gondii growth. We demonstrate that the growth defect of a T. gondii TgCoq1 mutant is rescued by complementation with a homologous TgCoq1 gene or with a (C45) solanesyl diphosphate synthase from Trypanosoma cruzi (TcSPPS). We find that a lipophilic bisphosphonate (BPH-1218) inhibits T. gondii growth at low-nanomolar concentrations, while overexpression of the TgCoq1 enzyme dramatically reduced growth inhibition by the bisphosphonate. Both the severe growth defect of the mutant and the inhibition by BPH-1218 were rescued by supplementation with a long-chain (C30) ubiquinone (UQ6). Importantly, BPH-1218 also protected mice against a lethal T. gondii infection. TgCoq1 thus represents a potential drug target that could be exploited for improved chemotherapy of toxoplasmosis. IMPORTANCE Millions of people are infected with Toxoplasma gondii, and the available treatment for toxoplasmosis is not ideal. Most of the drugs currently used are only effective for the acute infection, and treatment can trigger serious side effects requiring changes in the therapeutic approach. There is, therefore, a compelling need for safe and effective treatments for toxoplasmosis. In this work, we characterize an enzyme of the mitochondrion of T. gondii that can be inhibited by an isoprenoid pathway inhibitor. We present evidence that demonstrates that inhibition of the enzyme is linked to parasite death. In addition, the inhibitor can protect mice against a lethal dose of T. gondii. Our results thus reveal a promising chemotherapeutic target for the development of new medicines for toxoplasmosis.
    Keywords:  Toxoplasma gondii; bisphosphonate; isoprenoids; mitochondria; ubiquinone
  3. Antibiotics (Basel). 2022 Aug 31. pii: 1176. [Epub ahead of print]11(9):
      Toxoplasma gondii is an apicomplexan pathogen able to infect a wide range of warm-blooded animals, including humans, leading to toxoplasmosis. Current treatments for toxoplasmosis are associated with severe side-effects and a lack efficacy to eradicate chronic infection. Thus, there is an urgent need for developing novel, highly efficient agents against toxoplasmosis with low toxicity. For decades, natural products have been a useful source of novel bioactive compounds for the treatment of infectious pathogens. In the present study, we isolated eight natural products from the crude extract of the endophytic fungus Paraboeremia selaginellae obtained from the leaves of the plant Philodendron monstera. The natural products were tested for inhibiting Toxoplasma gondii proliferation, and their cytotoxicity was evaluated in different human cell lines. Six natural products showed antitoxoplasma activity with low or no cytotoxicity in human cell lines. Together, these findings indicate that biphenyl ethers, bioxanthracenes, and 5S,6S-phomalactone from P. selaginellae are potential candidates for novel anti-toxoplasma drugs.
    Keywords:  Paraboeremia selaginellae; Toxoplasma gondii; bioactivity; bioxanthracene; biphenyl ether; endophytic fungi; natural products; phomalactone
  4. Pathogens. 2022 Sep 13. pii: 1038. [Epub ahead of print]11(9):
      Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan. In pregnant women, it can lead to severe birth defects or intrauterine death of the fetus. Most of what is currently know on cell biology of T. gondii comes from studies relying on the RH strain propagated in mice. According to the recommendations concerning the animal welfare, we assayed in vitro/in vivo procedures to replace, or at least reduce, the demanding animal model for strain propagation. We evaluated the genetic and phenotypic stability of the RH strain throughout its parallel continuous propagation in mice, in human foreskin fibroblasts (HFF) and in an alternate fashion of these two procedures. We also assessed the virulence impact on the RH strain after different periods of its long-term propagation strictly in cells. The RH strain completely lost its virulence after long-term passage in HFF. Nevertheless, we obtained a successful outcome with the alternate passaging of the parasite in HFF and in mice as this approach enabled T. gondii to maintain the evaluated phenotypic properties, mainly its virulence potential. Also, no genetic changes were observed in genes known to be highly polymorphic or involved in pathoadaptation. In conclusion, the alternate model seems to be a feasible method for T. gondii propagation and maintenance, strongly impacting the number of sacrificed mice.
    Keywords:  3Rs; Toxoplasma gondii; in vitro propagation; mice model; strain propagation; virulence
  5. Microb Pathog. 2022 Sep 16. pii: S0882-4010(22)00393-X. [Epub ahead of print] 105780
      Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum are genetically related cyst-forming protozoan parasites that cause reproductive failures in ruminants. Given the limited information on the epidemiology of these infections in goats in India, the study aimed to estimate the seroprevalence, assess antibody cross-reactivity for diagnosis, and identify associated risk factors. A total of 695 sera were evaluated for antibodies to T. gondii and N. caninum infections using Modified Agglutination Test (MAT for Toxoplasma)/Neospora agglutination test (NAT), Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and Indirect Fluorescent Antibody Test (IFAT for tachyzoite and bradyzoite stages). The seroprevalence rate of T. gondii and N. caninum infections was 56.9% and 10.9%, respectively. Inter-rater agreement (kappa value - κ) was calculated to assess agreements between various diagnostic assays, using the IFAT as the gold standard (for detecting both infections), the agreements for MAT/NAT (κ = 0.97) and the ELISA (κ = 0.95) were excellent. The acute infection among seropositive goats were determined using serological (IgG avidity test - measures the binding strength between IgG antibodies and parasite antigens) and molecular diagnoses (PCR for repetitive DNA sequences - Toxoplasma B1 gene: 131 bp and Neospora NC5 gene: 328 bp). Among seropositive goats ≥80% had high IgG avidity and <10% of animals had low IgG avidity antibodies for both infections. Most low IgG avidity goats were PCR positive for the TgB1 gene (94.4%) or Nc5 gene (85.7%). In the serological assays, we used different dilutions of test serum to rule out the cross-reactivity owing to similar antigenic makeup between these two parasites. When the serological cross-reactivity was analysed using invasion assay at a serum titer of ≥200, more than 90% T. gondii positive sera showed no host cell invasion of N. caninum and vice versa. Largely, the serological results indicate that cut-off serum dilution of ≥1:200 for ELISA and IFAT and ≥1:25 for MAT/NAT avoids serological cross-reactivity between T. gondii and N. caninum. Further, the Univariate and multivariate analyses showed that adult animals (>2 years), reservoir hosts, and extensive rearing systems are common risk factors for these infections. However, the history of abortion was identified as a significant risk factor for T. gondii infection. This study revealed that T. gondii and N. caninum infections are highly prevalent in this region and the use of an appropriate cut-off serum dilution is necessary to avoid cross-reactivity between these closely related parasites.
    Keywords:  Caprine; Cut-off; Neosporosis; Risk factors; Serological cross-reactivity; Seroprevalence; Toxoplasmosis
  6. Vaccines (Basel). 2022 Aug 25. pii: 1389. [Epub ahead of print]10(9):
      Infection with the intracellular apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii causes serious clinical outcomes in both human and veterinary settings worldwide. Although approximately one-third of the world's population is infected with T. gondii, an effective human vaccine for this disease remains unavailable. We aimed to design a potential T. gondii vaccine candidate that consisted of the B- and T-lymphocyte epitopes of three parasite immunogenic antigens. Firstly, the immunodominant epitopes expressed within the ROP2, MIC3, and GRA7 proteins of T. gondii were identified. Subsequently, six B-cell epitopes, five CTL epitopes, and five HTL epitopes were combined to generate a multi-epitope vaccine, and the 50S ribosomal protein L7/L12 was added as an adjuvant to boost the vaccine's immunogenicity. All these epitopes were found to be antigenic, nonallergenic, nontoxic, and nonhuman homologs. The designed vaccine construct has a molecular weight of 51 kDa, an antigenicity score of 0.6182, and a solubility of 0.903461. Likewise, the candidate vaccine was immunogenic, nonallergenic, and stable. Molecular docking analysis revealed stable interactions between the vaccine construct and the TLR-4 immune receptor. Meanwhile, the stability of the developed vaccine was validated using molecular dynamics simulation. In silico, the vaccine construct was able to trigger primary immune responses. However, further laboratory-based assessments are needed to confirm its efficacy and safety.
    Keywords:  Toxoplasma gondii; epitopes; immune simulation; immunoinformatics; in silico; molecular docking; vaccine
  7. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Sep 07. pii: 10298. [Epub ahead of print]23(18):
      We had shown in our previous study that TgUrm1 (ubiquitin-related Modifier 1) was involved in the regulation of anti-oxidant stress in Toxoplasma gondii by conjugating with TgAhp1. It is generally believed that Urm1 binds to target proteins through a mechanism involving Uba (ubiquitin-like activator protein). Here, we identified the TgUrm1-exclusive ubiquitin-like activator-TgUba1, which was located in the cytoplasm of Toxoplasma. TgUba1 contained three domains, including the atrophin-1 domain (ANT1), the E1-like domain (AD), and the rhodanese homology domain (RHD). We explored the interaction of TgUba1 with TgUrm1, and the AD domain was essential for the interaction of the two proteins. The TgUba1 knockout and complementary mutants were obtained based on CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology. The knockout of TgUba1 attenuated parasite proliferation and virulence in mice, but not invasion and egress processes, revealing the pivotal role played by TgUba1 in T. gondii survival. Meanwhile, the conjugate band of TgUrm1 was significantly reduced under oxidative stress stimulation without TgUba1, indicating that TgUba1 enhanced the targeted conjugation ability of TgUrm1 in response to oxidative stress, especially under diamide (Dia) stimulation. Furthermore, eleven TgUba1-interacting proteins were identified by proximity-based protein labeling techniques, relating them to ubiquitin-like modifications, anti-oxidative stress and metabolic regulation processes. In conclusion, TgUba1 was essential for T. gondii survival and might be a potential ubiquitin-like activator protein for TgUrm1.
    Keywords:  Toxoplasma gondii; Urm1; ubiquitin-like activator
  8. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2022 Sep 15. pii: S0003-9861(22)00282-X. [Epub ahead of print] 109398
      Oryzalin (ORY) is a dinitroaniline derivative that inhibits the microtubule polymerization in plants and parasitic protozoa by selectively binding to the α-tubulin subunit. This herbicidal agent exhibits good antiprotozoal activity against major human parasites, such as Toxoplasma gondii (toxoplasmosis), Leishmania mexicana (leishmaniasis), and Plasmodium falciparum (malaria). Previous chemical mutagenesis assays on T. gondii α-tubulin (TgAT) have identified key mutations that lead to ORY resistance. Herein, we employed alchemical free energy methods and molecular dynamics simulations to determine if the ORY resistance mutations either decrease the TgAT's affinity of the compound or increase the protein stability. Our results here suggest that L136F and V202F mutations significantly decrease the affinity of ORY to TgAT, while T239I and V252L mutations diminish TgAT's flexibility. On the other hand, protein stability predictors determined that R243S mutation reduces TgAT stability due to the loss of its salt bridge interaction with E27. Interestingly, molecular dynamics simulations confirm that the loss of this key interaction leads to ORY binding site closure. Our study provides a better insight into the ORY-TgAT interaction, further supporting our recently proposed ORY-binding site.
    Keywords:  Oryzalin; Protein stability; Resistance mutations; Toxoplasma gondii; α-tubulin
  9. Heliyon. 2022 Sep;8(9): e10576
      Infections of humans with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) can lead to the disease's development, even in an asymptomatic status. However, the mechanisms that result in these clinical outcomes after infection are poorly understood. This study aimed to explore the molecular pathogenesis of toxoplasmosis-related inflammation through next-generation sequencing, to assess RNA expression profiles in peripheral blood from 5 female patients with chronic toxoplasmosis and 5 healthy female controls. All plasma samples were analyzed for anti-Toxoplasma IgG and IgM antibody titers by using electrochemiluminescence. Detection of acute and chronic toxoplasmosis was carried out using the ELISA IgG avidity. We evaluated the levels of INF-γ, IL-2, IL-12, TNF-α, IL-10, and IL-1β in culture supernatants of Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells infected with Toxoplasma lysate antigen (TLA) prepared with tachyzoites of strain T. gondii RH. Differential expression analysis was performed using DESeq2, pathway and enrichment analysis of DEGs was done on WEB-based Gene SeT AnaLysis Toolkit (WebGestalt) and Protein-protein interaction was carried out using NetworkAnalyst with STRING. In older people with chronic asymptomatic infection, a significant difference in the levels of inflammatory cytokines INF-γ and IL-2 was observed compared to seronegative individuals. Our results revealed differences in the regulation of critical biological processes involved in host responses to chronic T. gondii infection. Gene ontology analysis revealed several biologically relevant inflammatory and immune-related pathways.
    Keywords:  Cytokines; Host-pathogen interaction; Hub genes; Inflammation; Older people; RNA Ion AmpliSeq; Toxoplasma gondii
  10. J Cell Physiol. 2022 Sep 22.
      Ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) refers to a syndrome in which tissue damage is further aggravated and organ function further deteriorates when blood flow is restored after a period of tissue ischemia. Acute myocardial infarction, stress ulcer, pancreatitis, intestinal ischemia, intermittent claudication, acute tubular necrosis, postshock liver failure, and multisystem organ failure are all related to reperfusion injury. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) has been identified in multiple catabolic and anabolic signaling pathways. The functions of AMPK during health and diseases are intriguing but still need further research. Except for its conventional roles as an intracellular energy switch, emerging evidence reveals the critical role of AMPK in IRI as an energy-sensing signal molecule by regulating metabolism, autophagy, oxidative stress, inflammation, and other progressions. At the same time, drugs based on AMPK for the treatment of IRI are constantly being researched and applied in clinics. In this review, we summarize the mechanisms underlying the effects of AMPK in IRI and describe the AMPK-targeting drugs in treatment, hoping to increase the understanding of AMPK in IRI and provide new insights into future clinical treatment.
    Keywords:  AMPK; glycolysis and glycogen synthesis; ischemia-reperfusion injury; lipid metabolism; programmed cell death
  11. Parasitol Res. 2022 Sep 23.
      Toxoplasma gondii seroprevalence was determined in meat juice samples of 820 free-living raccoons from Germany. The animals were collected between December 2017 and April 2021. Using a commercial enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), the overall seroprevalence was found to be 48.5%. Statistical analysis revealed significant seroprevalence differences between seasons, sex, and weight of analysed raccoons. The prevalence in late winter/spring (57.7%) was significantly higher than in autumn (38.4%) (p < 0.0003). Male raccoons (50.5%) were more often seropositive than females (41.0%) (p = 0.028). Increasing animal weight had a significant impact on the relative probability of a positive serostatus (odds ratio: 1.783, p < 0.0001). Furthermore, we found regional differences in seroprevalence, but there was no statistically significant difference resulting from animal age, degree of habitat urbanization and hunting year. Meat juice is a suitable medium for serological surveys for T. gondii in meat producing animals, as sampling is even possible after slaughter or during meat inspection when blood is no longer available. The observed high seroprevalence indicates that T. gondii infection is widespread among the German raccoon population providing a potentially relevant source of T. gondii transmission to humans upon consumption or handling of animal products.
    Keywords:  ELISA; Game; Protozoan; Seroprevalence; Tissue fluid; Zoonosis
  12. PLoS Pathog. 2022 Sep 19. 18(9): e1010864
      Metabolic pathways underpin the growth and virulence of intracellular parasites and are therefore promising antiparasitic targets. The pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) is vital in most organisms, providing a reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) and ribose sugar for nucleotide synthesis; however, it has not yet been studied in Toxoplasma gondii, a widespread intracellular pathogen and a model protozoan organism. Herein, we show that T. gondii has a functional PPP distributed in the cytoplasm and nucleus of its acutely-infectious tachyzoite stage. We produced eight parasite mutants disrupting seven enzymes of the PPP in T. gondii. Our data show that of the seven PPP proteins, the two glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenases (TgG6PDH1, TgG6PDH2), one of the two 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenases (Tg6PGDH1), ribulose-5-phosphate epimerase (TgRuPE) and transaldolase (TgTAL) are dispensable in vitro as well as in vivo, disclosing substantial metabolic plasticity in T. gondii. Among these, TgG6PDH2 plays a vital role in defense against oxidative stress by the pathogen. Further, we show that Tg6PGDH2 and ribulose-5-phosphate isomerase (TgRPI) are critical for tachyzoite growth. The depletion of TgRPI impairs the flux of glucose in central carbon pathways, and causes decreased expression of ribosomal, microneme and rhoptry proteins. In summary, our results demonstrate the physiological need of the PPP in T. gondii while unraveling metabolic flexibility and antiparasitic targets.
  13. Epigenomes. 2022 Sep 15. pii: 29. [Epub ahead of print]6(3):
      Subtelomeres (ST) are chromosome regions that separate telomeres from euchromatin and play relevant roles in various biological processes of the cell. While their functions are conserved, ST structure and genetic compositions are unique to each species. This study aims to identify and characterize the subtelomeric regions of the 13 Toxoplasma gondii chromosomes of the Me49 strain. Here, STs were defined at chromosome ends based on poor gene density. The length of STs ranges from 8.1 to 232.4 kbp, with a gene density of 0.049 genes/kbp, lower than the Me49 genome (0.15 kbp). Chromatin organization showed that H3K9me3, H2A.X, and H3.3 are highly enriched near telomeres and the 5' end of silenced genes, decaying in intensity towards euchromatin. H3K4me3 and H2A.Z/H2B.Z are shown to be enriched in the 5' end of the ST genes. Satellite DNA was detected in almost all STs, mainly the sat350 family and a novel satellite named sat240. Beyond the STs, only short dispersed fragments of sat240 and sat350 were found. Within STs, there were 12 functional annotated genes, 59 with unknown functions (Hypothetical proteins), 15 from multigene FamB, and 13 from multigene family FamC. Some genes presented low interstrain synteny associated with the presence of satellite DNA. Orthologues of FamB and FamC were also detected in Neospora caninum and Hammondia hammondi. A re-analysis of previous transcriptomic data indicated that ST gene expression is strongly linked to the adaptation to different situations such as extracellular passage (evolve and resequencing study) and changes in metabolism (lack of acetyl-CoA cofactor). In conclusion, the ST region of the T. gondii chromosomes was defined, the STs genes were determined, and it was possible to associate them with high interstrain plasticity and a role in the adaptability of T. gondii to environmental changes.
    Keywords:  Toxoplasma; chromatin; environmental adaptation; multigene family; subtelomere; telomere
  14. Biochem J. 2022 Sep 30. 479(18): 1917-1940
      As first demonstrated in budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), all eukaryotic cells contain two, distinct multi-component protein kinase complexes that each harbor the TOR (Target Of Rapamycin) polypeptide as the catalytic subunit. These ensembles, dubbed TORC1 and TORC2, function as universal, centrally important sensors, integrators, and controllers of eukaryotic cell growth and homeostasis. TORC1, activated on the cytosolic surface of the lysosome (or, in yeast, on the cytosolic surface of the vacuole), has emerged as a primary nutrient sensor that promotes cellular biosynthesis and suppresses autophagy. TORC2, located primarily at the plasma membrane, plays a major role in maintaining the proper levels and bilayer distribution of all plasma membrane components (sphingolipids, glycerophospholipids, sterols, and integral membrane proteins). This article surveys what we have learned about signaling via the TORC2 complex, largely through studies conducted in S. cerevisiae. In this yeast, conditions that challenge plasma membrane integrity can, depending on the nature of the stress, stimulate or inhibit TORC2, resulting in, respectively, up-regulation or down-regulation of the phosphorylation and thus the activity of its essential downstream effector the AGC family protein kinase Ypk1. Through the ensuing effect on the efficiency with which Ypk1 phosphorylates multiple substrates that control diverse processes, membrane homeostasis is maintained. Thus, the major focus here is on TORC2, Ypk1, and the multifarious targets of Ypk1 and how the functions of these substrates are regulated by their Ypk1-mediated phosphorylation, with emphasis on recent advances in our understanding of these processes.
    Keywords:  contact sites; lipids; membrane proteins; phosphorylation; plasma membrane; protein kinases
  15. Zhongguo Xue Xi Chong Bing Fang Zhi Za Zhi. 2022 Aug 18. 34(4): 361-369
      OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of Toxoplasma gondii Chinese 1 genotype infections on host brain iron metabolism and brain damages.METHODS: Twenty C57BL/6 mice, each weighing 15 to 17 g, were randomly divided into the control and infection groups, of 10 mice in each group. Each mouse in the infection group was injected intraperitoneally with 4 000 tachyzoites of the TgCtwh3 isolate with Chinese 1 genotype, while each mouse in the control group was injected with an equal amount of sterile phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). All mice were sacrificed 6 day post-infection and brain tissues were sampled. The iron levels were measured in mouse brain specimens using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The differentially expressed genes were determined between the experimental and control groups using RNA chips and Gene Ontology (GO) term enrichment analysis of differentially expressed genes was performed. The mRNA expression of Toxoplasma gondii surface antigen 1 (TgSAG1) gene and some Zrt- and Irt-like protein (ZIP) family member coding genes was detected by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) assay. The ultrastructure of the hippocampus dentate gyrus in mouse brain specimens was observed using optical and electronic microscopy. The glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPx4) expression was determined using Western blotting, and malondialdehyde (MDA) level was measured using thiobarbituric acid (TBA) test. In addition, the optical density (OD) of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein was measured using immunohistochemistry.
    RESULTS: Optical microscopy showed cell necrosis in the hippocampus dentate gyrus of mouse brain specimens in the infection group, and electronic microscopy cytoplasmic vacuolization, nuclear atrophy and necrosis, disruption of cristae mitochondriales and increased autophagosome levels in the mouse brain hippocampus specimens in the infection group. The iron level was significantly greater in mouse brain specimens in the infection group than in the control group [(32.92 ± 0.90) μg/g vs. (37.72 ± 1.10) μg/g; t = 3.397, P < 0.01]. RNA chips revealed 721 up-regulated genes and 276 down-regulated genes in mouse brain specimens between the infection and control groups, and the differentially expressed genes were significantly enriched in metal ion binding ability (molecular function). Elevated expression of metal element transporter ZIP2 mRNA (t = 8.659, P < 0.05), reduced GPx4 expression [(1.046 ± 0.025) vs. (0.720 ± 0.101); t = 3.129, P < 0.01], increased MDA level [(4.37 ± 0.33) nmol/mgprot vs. (5.93 ± 0.54) nmol/mgprot; t = 2.451, P < 0.05], and up-regulated mean OD of VEGF protein [(0.348 3 ± 0.017 8) vs. (0.490 6 ± 0.010 5); t = 6.641, P < 0.01] were found in mouse brain specimens in the infection group than in the control group.
    CONCLUSIONS: Chinese 1 genotype T. gondii infection results in iron accumulation in brain tissues, reduced antioxidant ability and elevated levels of oxidative stress in mice, suggesting that T. gondii infection may cause brain damages through affecting iron metabolism in host brain tissues.
    Keywords:  Cerebral toxoplasmosis; Chinese 1 genotype; Iron metabolism; Mouse; Oxidative stress; Toxoplasma gondii
  16. Respir Res. 2022 Sep 18. 23(1): 251
      Sirtuins are nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)-dependent lysine deacylases and deacetylases that participate in a variety of cellular processes, including transcriptional activity, energy metabolism, DNA damage response, inflammation, apoptosis, autophagy, and oxidative stress. As a result, sirtuins are linked to multiple pathophysiological processes, such as cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, and respiratory diseases. Asthma is the most common respiratory disease, which is characterized by airway inflammation and airway remodeling. Accumulating evidence has indicated that sirtuins are involved in the pathogenesis of asthma. Furthermore, some studies have suggested that sirtuin modulators are potential agents for the treatment of asthma via alteration of the expression or activity of sirtuins. In this review, we illustrate the role of sirtuins in asthma, discuss related molecular mechanisms, and evaluate the sirtuins-targeted therapy for asthma.
    Keywords:  Asthma; Modulators; SIRT1; Sirtuins
  17. J Food Biochem. 2022 Sep 20. e14428
      Biochanin A (Bio-A), an isoflavone abundant in chickpeas, possesses hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, and anti-inflammatory effects. However, whether Bio-A has antihepatosteatosis effect remains unclear. This study aimed to evaluate the antihepatosteatosis effect of Bio-A on oleate (OA)-treated hepatocytes, and explore the underlying mechanism. When incubated with OA for 24 h, HepG2 cells were treated with various concentrations of Bio-A for 24 h to obtain an optimal antihepatosteatosis dose. HepG2 cells were treated with the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) inhibitor Compound C, or the sirtuin-3 (SIRT3) inhibitor 3-TYP, and incubated with 50 μM Bio-A. The results indicated that 12.6% of lipid content, particularly 11.0% of triglyceride content, and the expression of adipocyte differentiation-related protein were significantly decreased in Bio-A-treated hepatosteatosis cells, followed by an increase in the expression of Beclin 1, phosphorylation of Unc-51-like kinase 1 (ULK-1), the microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3)-II/LC3-I ratio, and a decrease in expression of p62. The results indicated that Bio-A upregulated autophagosome formation and autophagy flux. In addition, Bio-A increased SIRT3 expression and AMPK phosphorylation in OA-treated HepG2 cells. Blockade of AMPK and SIRT3 blocked the antihepatosteatosis effect and ULK-1 activation by Bio-A. AMPK inhibition did not eliminate the activation of SIRT3 by Bio-A. AutoDock analysis demonstrated that interaction might exist between Bio-A and SIRT3. In conclusion, Bio-A reduced fat accumulation in OA-treated HepG2 cells by activating SIRT3/AMPK/ULK-1-mediated autophagy. The findings provide a theoretical basis for the effect of Bio-A on hepatic steatosis-related diseases. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: This study highlights the antihepatosteatosis effects of biochanin A (Bio-A) on oleate (OA)-treated hepatocytes. Bio-A, one of the isoflavones in Cicer arietinum Linn., possesses multiple bioactivities such as antiobesity, anti-inflammation, and hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects. This study provides a new application of Bio-A to treat hepatic steatosis, and revealed the underlying mechanism of Bio-A involved in the activation of the SIRT3/AMPK/ULK-1-mediated autophagy. The findings provide a theoretical basis for the application of Bio-A to hepatic steatosis-related diseases.
    Keywords:  LC3; adipocyte differentiation-related protein; autophagy; chickpea; hepatic steatosis; p62
  18. Biochemistry. 2022 Sep 22.
      Ni-Fe-S-dependent carbon monoxide dehydrogenases (CODHs) are enzymes that interconvert CO and CO2 by using their catalytic Ni-Fe-S C-cluster and their Fe-S B- and D-clusters for electron transfer. CODHs are important in the microbiota of animals such as humans, ruminants, and termites because they can facilitate the use of CO and CO2 as carbon sources and serve to maintain redox homeostasis. The bifunctional carbon monoxide dehydrogenase/acetyl-CoA synthase (CODH/ACS) is responsible for acetate production via the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway, where acetyl-CoA is assembled from two CO2-derived one-carbon units. A Ni-Fe-S A-cluster is key to this chemistry. Whereas acetogens use the A- and C-clusters of CODH/ACS to produce acetate from CO2, methanogens use A- and C-clusters of an acetyl-CoA decarbonylase/synthase complex (ACDS) to break down acetate en route to CO2 and methane production. Here we review some of the recent advances in understanding the structure and mechanism of CODHs, CODH/ACSs, and ACDSs, their unusual metallocofactors, and their unique metabolic roles in the human gut and elsewhere.
  19. iScience. 2022 Oct 21. 25(10): 105083
      Cellular regulation of pH is crucial for internal biological processes and for the import and export of ions and nutrients. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the major proton pump (Pma1) is regulated by glucose. Glucose is also an inhibitor of the energy sensor Snf1/AMPK, which is conserved in all eukaryotes. Here, we demonstrate that a poly-histidine (polyHIS) tract in the pre-kinase region (PKR) of Snf1 functions as a pH-sensing module (PSM) and regulates Snf1 activity. This regulation is independent from, and unaffected by, phosphorylation at T210, the major regulatory control of Snf1, but is controlled by the Pma1 plasma-membrane proton pump. By examining the PKR from additional yeast species, and by varying the number of histidines in the PKR, we determined that the polyHIS functions progressively. This regulation mechanism links the activity of a key enzyme with the metabolic status of the cell at any given moment.
    Keywords:  Biological sciences; biochemistry; molecular biology
  20. Bioorg Chem. 2022 Sep 11. pii: S0045-2068(22)00547-8. [Epub ahead of print]129 106141
      Regulatory T (Treg) cells play an instrumental role in coordinating immune homeostasis via potent inhibitory effects. Defects in Treg cells lead to autoimmunity, but an overwhelming proportion of Treg cells encourages cancer progression. Hence, targeting Treg cells has emerged as a promising approach for mitigating disease severity. Recent studies have revealed that kinases are a critical component for tuning the fate of Treg cells, but the entire network of Treg-modulating kinases is still unclear. Here, we propose that the autophagy-activating UNC-51-like kinase 1 (ULK1) is a candidate for Treg cell modulation. While accumulating evidence has highlighted the role of autophagy-related kinases in Treg cells, the ULK1-Treg cell axis is yet to be examined. In this review, we predicted the potential role of ULK1 in Treg cell modulation. Furthermore, we summarized current ULK1 activators and inhibitors that can be investigated as Treg-targeting strategies, which might have beneficial outcomes in autoimmunity and cancer.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Regulatory T cells; Treg-targeting therapy; ULK1 modulator; UNC-51-like kinase 1
  21. Chem Asian J. 2022 Sep 18.
      Histone deacetylases (HDACs) play critical roles in epigenetic modification. These enzymes can remove acetyl groups from the N -terminal lysine residues of histones, thereby regulating gene expression. Because of their great relevance to various diseases, numerous HDAC inhibitors have been developed. In this context, assays for HDAC activity are prerequisite. Due to the advantages of small-molecule fluorescent probes, researchers have developed many probes to detect HDAC activity for developing HDAC inhibitors. Based on the mechanism of action, two main types of small-molecule fluorescent probes are known. One type is based on binding affinity that are generally HDAC inhibitor-fluorophore conjugates. The other one is enzyme-activated probes, which act as HDAC substrates and show fluorogenic or ratiometric response after being deacetylated by HDACs.
    Keywords:  HDAC, enzymatic activity, fluorescent probe, inhibitor, fluorescence imaging
  22. PLoS Genet. 2022 Sep 22. 18(9): e1010419
      Telomere chromatin structure is pivotal for maintaining genome stability by regulating the binding of telomere-associated proteins and inhibiting the DNA damage response. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, silent information regulator (Sir) proteins bind to terminal repeats and to subtelomeric X-elements, resulting in transcriptional silencing. Herein, we show that sir2 mutant strains display a specific loss of a nucleosome residing in the X-elements and that this deficiency is remarkably consistent between different telomeres. The X-elements contain several binding sites for the transcription factor Reb1 and we found that Sir2 and Reb1 compete for stabilizing/destabilizing this nucleosome, i.e. inactivation of Reb1 in a sir2 background reinstated the lost nucleosome. The telomeric-repeat-containing RNAs (TERRAs) originate from subtelomeric regions and extend into the terminal repeats. Both Sir2 and Reb1 repress TERRAs and in a sir2 reb1 double mutant, TERRA levels increased synergistically, showing that Sir2 and Reb1 act in different pathways for repressing TERRAs. We present evidence that Reb1 restricts TERRAs by terminating transcription. Mapping the 5'-ends of TERRAs from several telomeres revealed that the Sir2-stabilized nucleosome is the first nucleosome downstream from the transcriptional start site for TERRAs. Finally, moving an X-element to a euchromatic locus changed nucleosome occupancy and positioning, demonstrating that X-element nucleosome structure is dependent on the local telomere environment.