bims-toxgon Biomed News
on Toxoplasma gondii metabolism
Issue of 2023‒05‒07
eight papers selected by
Lakesh Kumar
BITS Pilani

  1. Front Immunol. 2023 ;14 1161507
      Toxoplasma gondii, a specialized intracellular parasite, causes a widespread zoonotic disease and is a severe threat to social and economic development. There is a lack of effective drugs and vaccines against T. gondii infection. Recently, mRNA vaccines have been rapidly developed, and their packaging materials and technologies are well established. In this study, TGGT1_216200 (TG_200), a novel molecule from T. gondii, was identified using bioinformatic screening analysis. TG_200 was purified and encapsulated with a lipid nanoparticle (LNP) to produce the TG_200 mRNA-LNP vaccine. The immune protection provided by the new vaccine and its mechanisms after immunizing BABL/C mice via intramuscular injection were investigated. There was a strong immune response when mice were vaccinated with TG_200 mRNA-LNP. Elevated levels of anti-T. gondii-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG), and a higher IgG2a-to-IgG1 ratio was observed. The levels of interleukin-12 (IL-12), interferon-γ (IFN-γ), IL-4, and IL-10 were also elevated. The result showed that the vaccine induced a mixture of Th1 and Th2 cells, and Th1-dominated humoral immune response. Significantly increased antigen-specific splenocyte proliferation was induced by TG_200 mRNA-LNP immunization. The vaccine could also induce T. gondii-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). The expression levels of interferon regulatory factor 8 (IRF8), T-Box 21 (T-bet), and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) were significantly elevated after TG_200 mRNA-LNP immunization. The levels of CD83, CD86, MHC-I, MHC-II, CD8, and CD4 molecules were also higher. The results indicated that TG_200 mRNA-LNP produced specific cellular and humoral immune responses. Most importantly, TG_200 mRNA-LNP immunized mice survived significantly longer (19.27 ± 3.438 days) than the control mice, which died within eight days after T. gondii challenge (P< 0.001). The protective effect of adoptive transfer was also assessed, and mice receiving serum and splenocytes from mice immunized with TG_200 mRNA-LNP showed improved survival rates of 9.70 ± 1.64 days and, 13.40 ± 2.32 days, respectively (P< 0.001). The results suggested that TG_200 mRNA-LNP is a safe and promising vaccine against T. gondii infection.
    Keywords:  Toxoplasma gondii; immune response; lipid nanoparticle; mRNA; vaccine
  2. J Biol Chem. 2023 May 02. pii: S0021-9258(23)01800-8. [Epub ahead of print] 104772
      The ability of cells to store and rapidly mobilize energy reserves in response to nutrient availability is essential for survival. Breakdown of carbon stores produces acetyl-coenzyme-A (AcCoA), which fuels essential metabolic pathways and is also the acyl donor for protein lysine acetylation. Histones are abundant and highly acetylated proteins, accounting for 40% - 75% of cellular protein acetylation. Notably, histone acetylation is sensitive to AcCoA availability and nutrient replete conditions induce a substantial accumulation of acetylation on histones. Deacetylation releases acetate, which can be recycled to AcCoA, suggesting that deacetylation could be mobilized as an AcCoA source to feed downstream metabolic processes under nutrient depletion. While the notion of histones as a metabolic reservoir has been frequently proposed, experimental evidence has been lacking. Therefore, to test this concept directly, we used acetate-dependent ATP citrate lyase-deficient fibroblasts (Acly-/- MEFs) and designed a pulse-chase experimental system to trace deacetylation-derived acetate and its incorporation into AcCoA. We found that dynamic protein deacetylation in Acly-/- MEFs contributed carbons to AcCoA and proximal downstream metabolites. However, deacetylation had no significant effect on acyl-CoA pool sizes, and even at maximal acetylation, deacetylation transiently supplied less than 10% of cellular AcCoA. Together, our data reveal that although histone acetylation is dynamic and nutrient-sensitive, its potential for maintaining cellular AcCoA-dependent metabolic pathways is limited compared to cellular demand.
    Keywords:  Acetylation; acetate; acetyl-coenzyme A; histone; metabolism; stable isotope tracing
  3. Sci Adv. 2023 May 03. 9(18): eadf0115
      The metabolite acetyl-CoA is necessary for both lipid synthesis in the cytosol and histone acetylation in the nucleus. The two canonical precursors to acetyl-CoA in the nuclear-cytoplasmic compartment are citrate and acetate, which are processed to acetyl-CoA by ATP-citrate lyase (ACLY) and acyl-CoA synthetase short-chain 2 (ACSS2), respectively. It is unclear whether other substantial routes to nuclear-cytosolic acetyl-CoA exist. To investigate this, we generated cancer cell lines lacking both ACLY and ACSS2 [double knockout (DKO) cells]. Using stable isotope tracing, we show that both glucose and fatty acids contribute to acetyl-CoA pools and histone acetylation in DKO cells and that acetylcarnitine shuttling can transfer two-carbon units from mitochondria to cytosol. Further, in the absence of ACLY, glucose can feed fatty acid synthesis in a carnitine responsive and carnitine acetyltransferase (CrAT)-dependent manner. The data define acetylcarnitine as an ACLY- and ACSS2-independent precursor to nuclear-cytosolic acetyl-CoA that can support acetylation, fatty acid synthesis, and cell growth.
  4. Exp Cell Res. 2023 Apr 29. pii: S0014-4827(23)00161-1. [Epub ahead of print] 113614
      Cells are programmed to favorably respond towards the nutrient availability by adapting their metabolism to meet energy demands. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a highly conserved serine/threonine energy-sensing kinase. It gets activated upon a decrease in the cellular energy status as reflected by an increased AMP/ATP ratio, ADP, and also during the conditions of glucose starvation without change in the adenine nucelotide ratio. AMPK functions as a centralized regulator of metabolism, acting at cellular and physiological levels to circumvent the metabolic stress by restoring energy balance. This review intricately highlights the integrated signaling pathways by which AMPK gets activated allosterically or by multiple non-canonical upstream kinases. AMPK activates the ATP generating processes (e.g., fatty acid oxidation) and inhibits the ATP consuming processes that are non-critical for survival (e.g., cell proliferation, protein and triglyceride synthesis). An integrated signaling network with AMPK as the central effector regulates all the aspects of enhanced stress resistance, qualified cellular housekeeping, and energy metabolic homeostasis. Importantly, the AMPK mediated amelioration of cellular stress and inflammatory responses are mediated by stimulation of transcription factors such as Nrf2, SIRT1, FoxO and inhibition of NF-κB serving as main downstream effectors. Moreover, many lines of evidence have demonstrated that AMPK controls autophagy through mTOR and ULK1 signaling to fine-tune the metabolic pathways in response to different cellular signals. This review also highlights the critical involvement of AMPK in promoting mitochondrial health, and homeostasis, including mitophagy. Loss of AMPK or ULK1 activity leads to aberrant accumulation of autophagy-related proteins and defective mitophagy thus, connecting cellular energy sensing to autophagy and mitophagy.
    Keywords:  AMPK; Autophagy; Cellular stress; Metabolic stress; Mitophagy
  5. PLoS Pathog. 2023 May;19(5): e1011344
      The Endosomal Sorting Complex Required for Transport (ESCRT) machinery consists of multiple protein complexes that coordinate vesicle budding away from the host cytosol. ESCRTs function in many fundamental cellular processes including the biogenesis of multivesicular bodies and exosomes, membrane repair and restoration, and cell abscission during cytokinesis. Work over the past 2 decades has shown that a diverse cohort of viruses critically rely upon host ESCRT machinery for virus replication and envelopment. More recent studies reported that intracellular bacteria and the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii benefit from, antagonize, or exploit host ESCRT machinery to preserve their intracellular niche, gain resources, or egress from infected cells. Here, we review how intracellular pathogens interact with the ESCRT machinery of their hosts, highlighting the variety of strategies they use to bind ESCRT complexes using short linear amino acid motifs like those used by ESCRTs to sequentially assemble on target membranes. Future work exposing new mechanisms of this molecular mimicry will yield novel insight of how pathogens exploit host ESCRT machinery and how ESCRTs facilitate key cellular processes.
  6. Mol Biol Cell. 2023 May 03. mbcE23020070
      The short-chain fatty acid metabolite acetyl-coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) has emerged as a major signal transducer that can broadly affect cell fate and function at least partly by influencing acetylation of key proteins. The mechanism by which acetyl-CoA regulates CD4+ T cell fate determination remains poorly understood. Herein, we report that acetate modulates glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) acetylation and CD4+ T helper 1 (Th1) cell differentiation by altering acetyl-CoA levels. Our transcriptome profiling shows that acetate is a robust positive regulator of CD4+ T cell gene expression typical of glycolysis. We further show that acetate potentiates GAPDH activity, aerobic glycolysis and Th1 polarization through regulation of GAPDH acetylation levels. This acetate-dependent GAPDH acetylation occurs in a dose- and time-dependent manner, while decreasing acetyl-CoA levels by fatty acid oxidation (FAO) inhibition results in a decline in acetyl-GAPDH levels. Thus, acetate functions as a potent metabolic regulator in CD4+ T cells by promoting GAPDH acetylation and Th1 cell fate decision.
  7. Nat Chem Biol. 2023 May 01.
      Histone acetyltransferases (HATs) are implicated as both oncogene and nononcogene dependencies in diverse human cancers. Acetyl-CoA-competitive HAT inhibitors have emerged as potential cancer therapeutics and the first clinical trial for this class of drugs is ongoing (NCT04606446). Despite these developments, the potential mechanisms of therapeutic response and evolved drug resistance remain poorly understood. Having discovered that multiple regulators of de novo coenzyme A (CoA) biosynthesis can modulate sensitivity to CBP/p300 HAT inhibition (PANK3, PANK4 and SLC5A6), we determined that elevated acetyl-CoA concentrations can outcompete drug-target engagement to elicit acquired drug resistance. This not only affects structurally diverse CBP/p300 HAT inhibitors, but also agents related to an investigational KAT6A/B HAT inhibitor that is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials. Altogether, this work uncovers CoA metabolism as an unexpected liability of anticancer HAT inhibitors and will therefore buoy future efforts to optimize the efficacy of this new form of targeted therapy.
  8. Sci Adv. 2023 May 03. 9(18): eadf0138
      Proliferating cells rely on acetyl-CoA to support membrane biogenesis and acetylation. Several organelle-specific pathways are available for provision of acetyl-CoA as nutrient availability fluctuates, so understanding how cells maintain acetyl-CoA homeostasis under such stresses is critically important. To this end, we applied 13C isotope tracing cell lines deficient in these mitochondrial [ATP-citrate lyase (ACLY)]-, cytosolic [acetyl-CoA synthetase (ACSS2)]-, and peroxisomal [peroxisomal biogenesis factor 5 (PEX5)]-dependent pathways. ACLY knockout in multiple cell lines reduced fatty acid synthesis and increased reliance on extracellular lipids or acetate. Knockout of both ACLY and ACSS2 (DKO) severely stunted but did not entirely block proliferation, suggesting that alternate pathways can support acetyl-CoA homeostasis. Metabolic tracing and PEX5 knockout studies link peroxisomal oxidation of exogenous lipids as a major source of acetyl-CoA for lipogenesis and histone acetylation in cells lacking ACLY, highlighting a role for inter-organelle cross-talk in supporting cell survival in response to nutrient fluctuations.