bims-toxgon Biomed News
on Toxoplasma gondii metabolism
Issue of 2023‒04‒02
fifteen papers selected by
Lakesh Kumar
BITS Pilani

  1. PLoS Pathog. 2023 Mar 27. 19(3): e1011288
      Exocytosis is a key active process in cells by which proteins are released in bulk via the fusion of exocytic vesicles with the plasma membrane. Soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) protein-mediated vesicle fusion with the plasma membrane is essential in most exocytotic pathways. In mammalian cells, the vesicular fusion step of exocytosis is normally mediated by Syntaxin-1 (Stx1) and SNAP25 family proteins (SNAP25 and SNAP23). However, in Toxoplasma gondii, a model organism of Apicomplexa, the only SNAP25 family protein, with a SNAP29-like molecular structure, is involved in vesicular fusion at the apicoplast. Here, we reveal that an unconventional SNARE complex comprising TgStx1, TgStx20, and TgStx21 mediates vesicular fusion at the plasma membrane. This complex is essential for the exocytosis of surface proteins and vesicular fusion at the apical annuli in T. gondii.
  2. Proteomes. 2023 Mar 01. pii: 9. [Epub ahead of print]11(1):
      Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular apicomplexan that causes toxoplasmosis in humans and animals. Central to its dissemination and pathogenicity is the ability to rapidly divide in the tachyzoite stage and infect any type of nucleated cell. Adaptation to different cell contexts requires high plasticity in which heat shock proteins (Hsps) could play a fundamental role. Tgj1 is a type I Hsp40 of T. gondii, an ortholog of the DNAJA1 group, which is essential during the tachyzoite lytic cycle. Tgj1 consists of a J-domain, ZFD, and DNAJ_C domains with a CRQQ C-terminal motif, which is usually prone to lipidation. Tgj1 presented a mostly cytosolic subcellular localization overlapping partially with endoplasmic reticulum. Protein-protein Interaction (PPI) analysis showed that Tgj1 could be implicated in various biological pathways, mainly translation, protein folding, energy metabolism, membrane transport and protein translocation, invasion/pathogenesis, cell signaling, chromatin and transcription regulation, and cell redox homeostasis among others. The combination of Tgj1 and Hsp90 PPIs retrieved only 70 interactors linked to the Tgj1-Hsp90 axis, suggesting that Tgj1 would present specific functions in addition to those of the Hsp70/Hsp90 cycle, standing out invasion/pathogenesis, cell shape motility, and energy pathway. Within the Hsp70/Hsp90 cycle, translation-associated pathways, cell redox homeostasis, and protein folding were highly enriched in the Tgj1-Hsp90 axis. In conclusion, Tgj1 would interact with a wide range of proteins from different biological pathways, which could suggest a relevant role in them.
    Keywords:  Hsp40; Hsp70/Hsp90 cycle; Toxoplasma; protein–protein interaction
  3. Parasitol Res. 2023 Mar 29.
      Experimental toxoplasmosis is an excellent model for adaptive immune response. Gamma-irradiated tachyzoites or soluble tachyzoite antigen extracts (STag) induce protection against experimental toxoplasmosis in mice. Scavenger receptors recognize irradiated proteins, promote their entry into cells, and lead to antigen presentation. CD36 is a specific scavenger receptor involved in intracellular transport of free fatty acid (FFA), cellular recycling, and intracellular trafficking in lipid rafts outside the lysosomal pathways. CD36 is also associated with an altered immune response, as CD36-/- mice presented some immune defects in the cyst-forming Toxoplasma gondii. We studied T. gondii infection in CD36-/- mice, naïve or immunized, with irradiated T. gondii STags by investigating protection, antibody production, and primed macrophage transplantation. CD36-/- mice presented no resistance against the viable RH tachyzoites, even after immunization with gamma-irradiated STags that protected wild-type mice. The animals presented poor humoral responses to both immunogens despite adequate levels of serum immunoglobulins. CD36-/- mice failed to induce protection against virulent T. gondii infection with inadequate antibody production or an innate response. Irradiated antigens failed to induce antibodies in CD36-/- mice and only produced adequate levels of immunoglobulin G when transplanted with irradiated STag-primed wild-type macrophages. The CD36 pathway is necessary for humoral response against the irradiated antigen; however, several other pathways are also involved in mounting a humoral response against any antigen. CD36 is a multipurpose molecule for FFA and lipid transport, as well as for the immune response, and gamma radiation mimics the innate response by targeting irradiated antigens of this pathway.
    Keywords:  CD36; Gamma radiation; Immune response; Knockout mice; Macrophage; STag; Scavenger receptor; Toxoplasma gondii; Toxoplasmosis
  4. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2023 ;13 1130901
      Toxoplasma gondii is a ubiquitous apicomplexan parasite that can infect virtually any warm-blooded animal. Acquired infection during pregnancy and the placental breach, is at the core of the most devastating consequences of toxoplasmosis. T. gondii can severely impact the pregnancy's outcome causing miscarriages, stillbirths, premature births, babies with hydrocephalus, microcephaly or intellectual disability, and other later onset neurological, ophthalmological or auditory diseases. To tackle T. gondii's vertical transmission, it is important to understand the mechanisms underlying host-parasite interactions at the maternal-fetal interface. Nonetheless, the complexity of the human placenta and the ethical concerns associated with its study, have narrowed the modeling of parasite vertical transmission to animal models, encompassing several unavoidable experimental limitations. Some of these difficulties have been overcome by the development of different human cell lines and a variety of primary cultures obtained from human placentas. These cellular models, though extremely valuable, have limited ability to recreate what happens in vivo. During the last decades, the development of new biomaterials and the increase in stem cell knowledge have led to the generation of more physiologically relevant in vitro models. These cell cultures incorporate new dimensions and cellular diversity, emerging as promising tools for unraveling the poorly understood T. gondii´s infection mechanisms during pregnancy. Herein, we review the state of the art of 2D and 3D cultures to approach the biology of T. gondii pertaining to vertical transmission, highlighting the challenges and experimental opportunities of these up-and-coming experimental platforms.
    Keywords:  Toxoplasma gondii; human placenta; in vitro models; maternal-fetal interface; trophoblast; vertical transmission
  5. Evol Appl. 2023 Mar;16(3): 721-737
      Current research on the virulence evolution of Toxoplasma gondii is mainly conducted via experiments, and studies using mathematical models are still limited. Here, we constructed a complex cycle model of T. gondii in a multi-host system considering multiple transmission routes and cat-mouse interaction. Based on this model, we studied how the virulence of T. gondii evolves with the factors related to transmission routes and the regulation of infection on host behavior under an adaptive dynamics framework. The study shows that all factors that enhance the role of mice favored decreased virulence of T. gondii, except the decay rate of oocysts that led to different evolutionary trajectories under different vertical transmission. The same was true of the environmental infection rate of cats, whose effect was different under different vertical transmission. The effect of the regulation factor on the virulence evolution of T. gondii was the same as that of the inherent predation rate depending on its net effect on direct and vertical transmissions. The global sensitivity analysis on the evolutionary outcome suggests that changing the vertical infection rate and decay rate was most effective in regulating the virulence of T. gondii. Furthermore, the presence of coinfection would favor virulent T. gondii and make evolutionary bifurcation easy to occur. The results reveal that the virulence evolution of T. gondii had a compromise between adapting to different transmission routes and maintaining the cat-mouse interaction thereby leading to different evolutionary scenarios. This highlights the significance of evolutionary ecological feedback to evolution. In addition, the qualitative verification of T. gondii virulence evolution in different areas by the present framework will provide a new perspective for the study of evolution.
    Keywords:  adaptive dynamics; cat‐mouse interaction; evolutionary bifurcation; evolutionary ecological feedback; multi‐host system; virulence evolution
  6. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2023 ;13 1129451
      Toxoplasma gondii infects approximately one-third of the world's population resulting in a chronic infection with the parasite located in cysts in neurons in the brain. In most immunocompetent hosts the chronic infection is asymptomatic, but several studies have found correlations between Toxoplasma seropositivity and neuropsychiatric disorders, including Schizophrenia, and some other neurological disorders. Host-parasite interactions of bradyzoites in cysts in neurons is not well understood due in part to the lack of suitable in vitro human neuronal models. The advent of stem cell technologies in which human neurons can be derived in vitro from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) or direct conversion of somatic cells generating induced neurons (iNs), affords the opportunity to develop in vitro human neuronal culture systems to advance the understanding of T. gondii in human neurons. Human neurons derived from hiPSCs or iNs, generate pure human neuron monolayers that express differentiated neuronal characteristics. hiPSCs also generate 3D neuronal models that better recapitulate the cytoarchitecture of the human brain. In this review, an overview of iPSC-derived neurons and iN protocols leading to 2D human neuron cultures and hiPSC-derived 3D cerebral organoids will be given. The potential applications of these 2D and 3D human neuronal models to address questions about host-parasite interactions of T. gondii in neurons and the parasite in the CNS, will be discussed. These human neuronal in vitro models hold the promise to advance the understanding of T. gondii in human neurons and to improve the understanding of neuropathogenesis of chronic toxoplasmosis.
    Keywords:  bradyzoites; cerebral organoids; human iPSCs; human neurons; spontaneous cystogenesis
  7. bioRxiv. 2023 Mar 24. pii: 2023.03.22.533773. [Epub ahead of print]
      Apicomplexan parasites exhibit tremendous diversity in much of their fundamental cell biology, but study of these organisms using light microscopy is often hindered by their small size. Ultrastructural expansion microscopy (U-ExM) is a microscopy preparation method that physically expands the sample ∼4.5x. Here, we apply U-ExM to the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum during the asexual blood stage of its lifecycle to understand how this parasite is organized in three-dimensions. Using a combination of dye-conjugated reagents and immunostaining, we have catalogued 13 different P. falciparum structures or organelles across the intraerythrocytic development of this parasite and made multiple observations about fundamental parasite cell biology. We describe that the microtubule organizing center (MTOC) and its associated proteins anchor the nucleus to the parasite plasma membrane during mitosis. Furthermore, the rhoptries, Golgi, basal complex, and inner membrane complex, which form around this anchoring site while nuclei are still dividing, are concurrently segregated and maintain an association to the MTOC until the start of segmentation. We also show that the mitochondrion and apicoplast undergo sequential fission events while maintaining an MTOC association during cytokinesis. Collectively, this study represents the most detailed ultrastructural analysis of P. falciparum during its intraerythrocytic development to date, and sheds light on multiple poorly understood aspects of its organelle biogenesis and fundamental cell biology.
  8. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2023 Mar 16. pii: 447. [Epub ahead of print]16(3):
      Currently, toxoplasmosis affects nearly one-third of the world's population, but the available treatments have several limitations. This factor underscores the search for better therapy for toxoplasmosis. Therefore, in the current investigation, we investigated the potential of emodin as a new anti-Toxoplasma gondii while exploring its anti-parasitic mechanism of action. We explored the mechanisms of action of emodin in the presence and absence of an in vitro model of experimental toxoplasmosis. Emodin showed strong anti-T. gondii action with an EC50 value of 0.03 µg/mL; at this same effective anti-parasite concentration, emodin showed no appreciable host cytotoxicity. Likewise, emodin showed a promising anti-T. gondii specificity with a selectivity index (SI) of 276. Pyrimethamine, a standard drug for toxoplasmosis, had an SI of 2.3. The results collectively imply that parasite damage was selective rather than as a result of a broad cytotoxic effect. Furthermore, our data confirm that emodin-induced parasite growth suppression stems from parasite targets and not host targets, and indicate that the anti-parasite action of emodin precludes oxidative stress and ROS production. Emodin likely mediates parasite growth suppression through means other than oxidative stress, ROS production, or mitochondrial toxicity. Collectively, our findings support the potential of emodin as a promising and novel anti-parasitic agent that warrants further investigation.
    Keywords:  drug discovery; medicinal biochemistry; phytomedicine; toxoplasmosis
  9. iScience. 2023 Apr 21. 26(4): 106334
      The control of coccidiosis, causing huge economic losses in the poultry industry, is facing the stagnation of the development of new drugs and the emergence of drug resistance. Thus, the priority for coccidiosis control is to decipher the effect mechanisms and resistance mechanisms of anticoccidial drugs. In this study, we mined and validated a molecular marker for halofuginone resistance in Eimeria tenella through forward and reverse genetic approaches. We screened whole-genome sequencing data and detected point mutations in the ETH2_1020900 gene (encoding prolyl-tRNA synthetase, PRS). Then, we introduced this mutated gene into E. tenella and Toxoplasma gondii and validated that overexpression of this mutated gene confers resistance to halofuginone in vivo and in vitro. These results together show that mutations A1852G and A1854G on the ETH2_1020900 gene are pivotal to halofuginone resistance in E. tenella, encouraging the exploration of mechanisms of drug resistance against other anticoccidial drugs in eimerian parasites.
    Keywords:  Medical microbiology; Molecular biology; Parasitology
  10. J Neurochem. 2023 Mar 28.
      AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a key sensor of energy balance playing important roles in the balancing of anabolic and catabolic activities. The high energy demands of the brain and its limited capacity to store energy indicate that AMPK may play a significant role in brain metabolism. Here, we activated AMPK in guinea pig cortical tissue slices, both directly with A769662 and PF 06409577, and indirectly, using AICAR and metformin. We studied the resultant metabolism of [1-13 C]glucose and [1,2-13 C]acetate using NMR spectroscopy. We found distinct activator concentration dependent effects on metabolism which ranged from decreased metabolic pool sizes at EC50 activator concentrations with no expected stimulation in glycolytic flux, to increased aerobic glycolysis and decreased pyruvate metabolism with certain activators. Further, activation with direct vs indirect activators produced distinct metabolic outcomes at both low (EC50 ) and higher (EC50 x 10) concentrations. Specific direct activation of β1-containing AMPK isoforms with PF 06409577 resulted in increased Krebs cycle activity, restoring pyruvate metabolism while A769662 increased lactate and alanine production as well as labelling of citrate and glutamine. These results reveal a complex metabolic response to AMPK activators in brain beyond increased aerobic glycolysis and indicate that further research is warranted into their concentration and mechanism-dependent impact.
  11. bioRxiv. 2023 Mar 14. pii: 2023.03.14.532585. [Epub ahead of print]
      N-terminal protein acetylation is a ubiquitous post-translational modification that broadly impacts diverse cellular processes in higher organisms. Bacterial proteins are also N-terminally acetylated, but the mechanisms and consequences of this modification in bacteria are poorly understood. We previously quantified widespread N-terminal protein acetylation in pathogenic mycobacteria (C. R. Thompson, M. M. Champion, and P.A. Champion, J Proteome Res 17(9): 3246-3258, 2018, https:// doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.8b00373). The major virulence factor EsxA (ESAT-6, Early secreted antigen, 6kDa) was one of the first N-terminally acetylated proteins identified in bacteria. EsxA is conserved in mycobacterial pathogens, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium marinum, a non-tubercular mycobacterial species that causes tuberculosis-like disease in ectotherms. However, enzyme responsible for EsxA N-terminal acetylation has been elusive. Here, we used genetics, molecular biology, and mass-spectroscopy based proteomics to demonstrate that MMAR_1839 (renamed Emp1, ESX-1 modifying protein, 1) is the putative N-acetyl transferase (NAT) solely responsible for EsxA acetylation in Mycobacterium marinum. We demonstrated that ERD_3144, the orthologous gene in M. tuberculosis Erdman, is functionally equivalent to Emp1. We identified at least 22 additional proteins that require Emp1 for acetylation, demonstrating that this putative NAT is not dedicated to EsxA. Finally, we showed that loss of emp1 resulted in a significant reduction in the ability of M. marinum to cause macrophage cytolysis. Collectively, this study identified a NAT required for N-terminal acetylation in Mycobacterium and provided insight into the requirement of N-terminal acetylation of EsxA and other proteins in mycobacterial virulence in the macrophage.
  12. Front Immunol. 2023 ;14 1121495
      Macrophages are the preeminent phagocytic cells which control multiple infections. Tuberculosis a leading cause of death in mankind and the causative organism Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) infects and persists in macrophages. Macrophages use reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) and autophagy to kill and degrade microbes including MTB. Glucose metabolism regulates the macrophage-mediated antimicrobial mechanisms. Whereas glucose is essential for the growth of cells in immune cells, glucose metabolism and its downsteam metabolic pathways generate key mediators which are essential co-substrates for post-translational modifications of histone proteins, which in turn, epigenetically regulate gene expression. Herein, we describe the role of sirtuins which are NAD+-dependent histone histone/protein deacetylases during the epigenetic regulation of autophagy, the production of ROS/RNS, acetyl-CoA, NAD+, and S-adenosine methionine (SAM), and illustrate the cross-talk between immunometabolism and epigenetics on macrophage activation. We highlight sirtuins as emerging therapeutic targets for modifying immunometabolism to alter macrophage phenotype and antimicrobial function.
    Keywords:  SIRTUIN; autophagy; glycolysis; histone modifications; human macrophages; metabolism
  13. Trop Med Infect Dis. 2023 Feb 27. pii: 143. [Epub ahead of print]8(3):
      Toxoplasma gondii dense granule protein GRA3 has been shown to promote Toxoplasma gondii transmission and proliferation by interacting with the host cell endoplasmic reticulum (ER) through calcium-regulated cyclophilin ligands (CAMLG). Although many studies have focused on the interaction between the host cell endoplasmic reticulum and GRA3, no polyclonal antibodies (PcAbs) against GRA3 have been reported to date. According to the antigenicity prediction and exposure site analysis, three antigen peptide sequences were selected to prepare polyclonal antibodies targeting GRA3. Peptide scans revealed that the major antigenic epitope sequences were 125ELYDRTDRPGLK136, 202FFRRRPKDGGAG213, and 68NEAGESYSSATSG80, respectively. The GRA3 PcAb specifically recognized the GRA3 of T. gondii type Ⅱ ME49. The development of PcAbs against GRA3 is expected to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which GRA3 regulates host cell function and contribute to the development of diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for toxoplasmosis.
    Keywords:  GRA3; Toxoplasma gondii; Toxoplasmosis; antigenic epitope; epitope peptide antibody
  14. Nutrients. 2023 Mar 20. pii: 1494. [Epub ahead of print]15(6):
      The intestine has garnered attention as a target organ for developing new therapies for impaired glucose tolerance. The intestine, which produces incretin hormones, is the central regulator of glucose metabolism. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) production, which determines postprandial glucose levels, is regulated by intestinal homeostasis. Nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT)-mediated nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) biosynthesis in major metabolic organs such as the liver, adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle plays a crucial role in obesity- and aging-associated organ derangements. Furthermore, NAMPT-mediated NAD+ biosynthesis in the intestines and its upstream and downstream mediators, adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and NAD+-dependent deacetylase sirtuins (SIRTs), respectively, are critical for intestinal homeostasis, including gut microbiota composition and bile acid metabolism, and GLP-1 production. Thus, boosting the intestinal AMPK-NAMPT-NAD+-SIRT pathway to improve intestinal homeostasis, GLP-1 production, and postprandial glucose metabolism has gained significant attention as a novel strategy to improve impaired glucose tolerance. Herein, we aimed to review in detail the regulatory mechanisms and importance of intestinal NAMPT-mediated NAD+ biosynthesis in regulating intestinal homeostasis and GLP-1 secretion in obesity and aging. Furthermore, dietary and molecular factors regulating intestinal NAMPT-mediated NAD+ biosynthesis were critically explored to facilitate the development of new therapeutic strategies for postprandial glucose dysregulation.
    Keywords:  incretin; intestinal homeostasis; nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide; nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase; postprandial glucose metabolism
  15. Synth Syst Biotechnol. 2023 Jun;8(2): 235-241
      Fumarate is a value-added chemical that is widely used in food, medicine, material, and agriculture industries. With the rising attention to the demand for fumarate and sustainable development, many novel alternative ways that can replace the traditional petrochemical routes emerged. The in vitro cell-free multi-enzyme catalysis is an effective method to produce high value chemicals. In this study, a multi-enzyme catalytic pathway comprising three enzymes for fumarate production from low-cost substrates acetate and glyoxylate was designed. The acetyl-CoA synthase, malate synthase, and fumarase from Escherichia coli were selected and the coenzyme A achieved recyclable. The enzymatic properties and optimization of reaction system were investigated, reaching a fumarate yield of 0.34 mM with a conversion rate of 34% after 20 h of reaction. We proposed and realized the conversion of acetate and glyoxylate to fumarate in vitro using a cell-free multi-enzyme catalytic system, thus providing an alternative approach for the production of fumarate.
    Keywords:  Acetate; Cell-free; Fumarate; Glyoxylate; Multi-enzyme catalysis