bims-toxgon Biomed News
on Toxoplasma gondii metabolism
Issue of 2023‒08‒13
thirteen papers selected by
Lakesh Kumar
BITS Pilani

  1. Contact (Thousand Oaks). 2023 Jan-Dec;6:6 25152564231189064
      Apicomplexan parasites are a group of protists that cause disease in humans and include pathogens like Plasmodium spp., the causative agent of malaria, and Toxoplasma gondii, the etiological agent of toxoplasmosis and one of the most ubiquitous human parasites in the world. Membrane contact sites (MCSs) are widespread structures within eukaryotic cells but their characterization in apicomplexan parasites is only in its very beginnings. Basic biological features of the T. gondii parasitic cycle support numerous organellar interactions, including the transfer of Ca2+ and metabolites between different compartments. In T. gondii, Ca2+ signals precede a series of interrelated molecular processes occurring in a coordinated manner that culminate in the stimulation of key steps of the parasite life cycle. Calcium transfer from the endoplasmic reticulum to other organelles via MCSs would explain the precision, speed, and efficiency that is needed during the lytic cycle of T. gondii. In this short review, we discuss the implications of these structures in cellular signaling, with an emphasis on their potential role in Ca2+ signaling.
    Keywords:  Toxoplasma gondii; apicomplexan; calcium; membrane contact sites
  2. Nat Commun. 2023 08 09. 14(1): 4800
      The phylum Apicomplexa comprises important eukaryotic parasites that invade host tissues and cells using a unique mechanism of gliding motility. Gliding is powered by actomyosin motors that translocate host-attached surface adhesins along the parasite cell body. Actin filaments (F-actin) generated by Formin1 play a central role in this critical parasitic activity. However, their subcellular origin, path and ultrastructural arrangement are poorly understood. Here we used cryo-electron tomography to image motile Cryptosporidium parvum sporozoites and reveal the cellular architecture of F-actin at nanometer-scale resolution. We demonstrate that F-actin nucleates at the apically positioned preconoidal rings and is channeled into the pellicular space between the parasite plasma membrane and the inner membrane complex in a conoid extrusion-dependent manner. Within the pellicular space, filaments on the inner membrane complex surface appear to guide the apico-basal flux of F-actin. F-actin concordantly accumulates at the basal end of the parasite. Finally, analyzing a Formin1-depleted Toxoplasma gondii mutant pinpoints the upper preconoidal ring as the conserved nucleation hub for F-actin in Cryptosporidium and Toxoplasma. Together, we provide an ultrastructural model for the life cycle of F-actin for apicomplexan gliding motility.
  3. mBio. 2023 Aug 07. e0130923
      In the apicomplexans, endocytosed cargos (e.g., hemoglobin) are trafficked to a specialized organelle for digestion. This follows a unique endocytotic process at the micropore/cytostome in these parasites. However, the mechanism underlying endocytic trafficking remains elusive, due to the repurposing of classical endocytic proteins for the biogenesis of apical organelles. To resolve this issue, we have exploited the genetic tractability of the model apicomplexan Toxoplasma gondii, which ingests host cytosolic materials (e.g., green fluorescent protein[GFP]). We determined an association between protein prenylation and endocytic trafficking, and using an alkyne-labeled click chemistry approach, the prenylated proteome was characterized. Genome editing, using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repaet/CRISPR-associated nuclease 9 (CRISPR/Cas9), was efficiently utilized to generate genetically modified lines for the functional screening of 23 prenylated candidates. This identified four of these proteins that regulate the trafficking of endocytosed GFP vesicles. Among these proteins, Rab1B and YKT6.1 are highly conserved but are non-classical endocytic proteins in eukaryotes. Confocal imaging analysis showed that Rab1B and Ras are substantially localized to both the trans-Golgi network and the endosome-like compartments in the parasite. Conditional knockdown of Rab1B caused a rapid defect in secretory trafficking to the rhoptry bulb, suggesting a trafficking intersection role for the key regulator Rab1B. Further experiments confirmed a critical role for protein prenylation in regulating the stability/activity of these proteins (i.e., Rab1B and YKT6.1) in the parasite. Our findings define the molecular basis of endocytic trafficking and reveal a potential intersection function of Rab1B on membrane trafficking in T. gondii. This might extend to other related protists, including the malarial parasites. IMPORTANCE The protozoan Toxoplasma gondii establishes a permissive niche, in host cells, that allows parasites to acquire large molecules such as proteins. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the parasite repurposes the classical endocytic components for secretory sorting to the apical organelles, leaving the question of endocytic transport to the lysosome-like compartment unclear. Recent studies indicated that endocytic trafficking is likely to associate with protein prenylation in malarial parasites. This information promoted us to examine this association in the model apicomplexan T. gondii and to identify the key components of the prenylated proteome that are involved. By exploiting the genetic tractability of T. gondii and a host GFP acquisition assay, we reveal four non-classical endocytic proteins that regulate the transport of endocytosed cargos (e.g., GFP) in T. gondii. Thus, we extend the principle that protein prenylation regulates endocytic trafficking and elucidate the process of non-classical endocytosis in T. gondii and potentially in other related protists.
    Keywords:  Toxoplasma gondii; apicomplexans; digestive vacuole; endocytic trafficking; malaria parasites; prenylome; protein prenylation; rhoptry biogenesis; secretory trafficking
  4. Microb Biotechnol. 2023 Aug 09.
      Toxoplasma gondii is a ubiquitous pathogen that infects all warm-blooded animals, including humans, causing substantial socioeconomic and healthcare burdens. However, there is no ideal vaccine for toxoplasmosis. As metabolism is important in the growth and virulence of Toxoplasma, some key pathways are promising antiparasitic targets. Here, we identified 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase 1 (Tg6PGDH1) in the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway as a cytoplasmic protein that is dispensable for tachyzoite growth of T. gondii in vitro but critical for virulence and cyst formation in vivo. The depletion of Tg6PGDH1 causes decreased gene transcription involved in signal transduction, transcriptional regulation and virulence. Furthermore, we analysed the protective effect of the ME49Δ6pgdh1 mutant as an attenuated vaccine and found that ME49Δ6pgdh1 immunization stimulated strong protective immunity against lethal challenges and blocked cyst formation caused by reinfection. Furthermore, we showed that ME49Δ6pgdh1 immunization stimulated increased levels of interferon-gamma, tumour necrosis factor-alpha and Toxoplasma-specific IgG antibodies. These data highlight the role of Tg6PGDH1 in the growth and virulence of T. gondii and its potential as a target for the development of a live-attenuated vaccine.
  5. Mol Microbiol. 2023 Aug 11.
      Apicomplexan parasites comprise significant pathogens of humans, livestock and wildlife, but also represent a diverse group of eukaryotes with interesting and unique cell biology. The study of cell biology in apicomplexan parasites is complicated by their small size, and historically this has required the application of cutting-edge microscopy techniques to investigate fundamental processes like mitosis or cell division in these organisms. Recently, a technique called expansion microscopy has been developed, which rather than increasing instrument resolution like most imaging modalities, physically expands a biological sample. In only a few years since its development, a derivative of expansion microscopy known as ultrastructure-expansion microscopy (U-ExM) has been widely adopted and proven extremely useful for studying cell biology of Apicomplexa. Here, we review the insights into apicomplexan cell biology that have been enabled through the use of U-ExM, with a specific focus on Plasmodium, Toxoplasma and Cryptosporidium. Further, we summarize emerging expansion microscopy modifications and modalities and forecast how these may influence the field of parasite cell biology in future.
    Keywords:   Cryptosporidium ; Plasmodium ; Toxoplasma ; U-ExM; cytoskeleton
  6. Autophagy. 2023 Aug 11.
      Lactate is a glycolysis product that is produced from pyruvate by LDH (lactate dehydrogenase) and plays an important role in physiological and pathological processes. However, whether lactate regulates autophagy is still unknown. We recently reported that LDHA is phosphorylated at serine 196 by ULK1 (unc-51 like kinase 1) under nutrient-deprivation conditions, promoting lactate production. Then, lactate mediates PIK3C3/VPS34 lactylation at lysine 356 and lysine 781 via acyltransferase KAT5/TIP60. PIK3C3/VPS34 lactylation enhances the association of PIK3C3/VPS34 with BECN1 (beclin 1, autophagy related), ATG14 and UVRAG, increases PIK3C3/VPS34 lipid kinase activity, promotes macroautophagy/autophagy and facilitates the endolysosomal degradation pathway. PIK3C3/VPS34 hyperlactylation induces autophagy and plays an essential role in skeletal muscle homeostasis and cancer progression. Overall, this study describes an autophagy regulation mechanism and the integration of two highly conserved life processes: glycolysis and autophagy.
  7. Genomics Inform. 2023 Jun;21(2): e23
      The mammalian sirtuin family, consisting of SIRT1-SIRT7, plays a vital role in various biological processes, including cancer, diabetes, neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease, cellular metabolism, and cellular homeostasis maintenance. Due to their involvement in these biological processes, modulating sirtuin activity seems promising to impact immune- and aging-related diseases, as well as cancer pathways. However, more understanding is required regarding the safety and efficacy of sirtuin-targeted therapies due to the complex regulatory mechanisms that govern their activity, particularly in the context of multiple targets. In this study, the interaction landscape of the sirtuin family was analyzed using a systems biology approach. A sirtuin protein-protein interaction network was built using the Cytoscape platform and analyzed using the NetworkAnalyzer and stringApp plugins. The result revealed the sirtuin family's association with numerous proteins that play diverse roles, suggesting a complex interplay between sirtuins and other proteins. Based on network topological and functional analysis, SIRT1 was identified as the most prominent among sirtuin family members, demonstrating that 25 of its protein partners are involved in cancer, 22 in innate immune response, and 29 in aging, with some being linked to a combination of two or more pathways. This study lays the foundation for the development of novel therapies that can target sirtuins with precision and efficacy. By illustrating the various interactions among the proteins in the sirtuin family, we have revealed the multifaceted roles of SIRT1 and provided a framework for their possible roles to be precisely understood, manipulated, and translated into therapeutics in the future.
    Keywords:  aging; cancer; immunity; protein interaction network; sirtuins
  8. Food Microbiol. 2023 Oct;pii: S0740-0020(23)00109-0. [Epub ahead of print]115 104322
      Zygosaccharomyces rouxii has excellent fermentation performance and good tolerance to osmotic stress. Acetyl-CoA is a crucial intermediate precursor in the central carbon metabolic pathway of yeast. This study investigated the effect of engineering acetyl-CoA metabolism on the membrane functionality and stress tolerance of yeast. Firstly, exogenous supplementation of acetyl-CoA improved the biomass and the ability of unsaturated fatty acid synthesis of Z. rouxii under salt stress. Q-PCR results suggested that the gene ACSS (coding acetyl-CoA synthetase) was significantly up-expressed. Subsequently, the gene ACSS from Z. rouxii was transformed and heterologously expressed in S. cerevisiae. The recombinant cells exhibited better multiple stress (salt, acid, heat, and cold) tolerance, higher fatty acid contents, membrane integrity, and fluidity. Our findings may provide a suitable means to enhance the stress tolerance and fermentation efficiency of yeast under harsh fermentation environments.
    Keywords:  Acetyl-CoA; Fatty acid; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Stress tolerance; Zygosaccharomyces rouxii
  9. Nat Cell Biol. 2023 Aug 10.
      Cell growth is regulated by the mammalian/mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), which functions both as a nutrient sensor and a master controller of virtually all biosynthetic pathways. This ensures that cells are metabolically active only when conditions are optimal for growth. Notably, although mTORC1 is known to regulate fatty acid biosynthesis, how and whether the cellular lipid biosynthetic capacity signals back to fine-tune mTORC1 activity remains poorly understood. Here we show that mTORC1 senses the capacity of a cell to synthesise fatty acids by detecting the levels of malonyl-CoA, an intermediate of this biosynthetic pathway. We find that, in both yeast and mammalian cells, this regulation is direct, with malonyl-CoA binding to the mTOR catalytic pocket and acting as a specific ATP-competitive inhibitor. When fatty acid synthase (FASN) is downregulated/inhibited, elevated malonyl-CoA levels are channelled to proximal mTOR molecules that form direct protein-protein interactions with acetyl-CoA carboxylase 1 (ACC1) and FASN. Our findings represent a conserved and unique homeostatic mechanism whereby impaired fatty acid biogenesis leads to reduced mTORC1 activity to coordinately link this metabolic pathway to the overall cellular biosynthetic output. Moreover, they reveal the existence of a physiological metabolite that directly inhibits the activity of a signalling kinase in mammalian cells by competing with ATP for binding.
  10. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2023 ;13 1218583
      Tuberculosis (TB) is a widespread infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb), which has been a significant burden for a long time. Post-translational modifications (PTMs) are essential for protein function in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. This review focuses on the contribution of protein acetylation to the function of M. tb and its infected macrophages. The acetylation of M. tb proteins plays a critical role in virulence, drug resistance, regulation of metabolism, and host anti-TB immune response. Similarly, the PTMs of host proteins induced by M. tb are crucial for the development, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Host protein acetylation induced by M. tb is significant in regulating host immunity against TB, which substantially affects the disease's development. The review summarizes the functions and mechanisms of M. tb acetyltransferase in virulence and drug resistance. It also discusses the role and mechanism of M. tb in regulating host protein acetylation and immune response regulation. Furthermore, the current scenario of isoniazid usage in M. tb therapy treatment is examined. Overall, this review provides valuable information that can serve as a preliminary basis for studying pathogenic research, developing new drugs, exploring in-depth drug resistance mechanisms, and providing precise treatment for TB.
    Keywords:  Mycobacterium tuberculosis; N-acetyltransferase acetylation; TB; acetylation; post-translational modification
  11. Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2023 Aug 03. pii: S0959-440X(23)00140-9. [Epub ahead of print]82 102666
      Sirtuins are NAD+-dependent protein lysine deacylases and mono-ADP-ribosylases whose activity regulates different pathways, including DNA damage repair, cell survival and metabolism, reactive oxygen species (ROS) detoxification, inflammation, cardiac function, and neuronal signaling. Considering the beneficial effects of specific sirtuin isoforms on health and lifespan, the past two decades have seen a mounting interest in the development of sirtuin activators. The availability of enzyme-activator co-crystal structures has proven significant throughout the years for elucidating the mechanisms of action of activators and designing more potent and selective molecules. In this review, we highlight the most interesting examples of sirtuin activators and provide comprehensive coverage of the role that structural biology played in their discovery and characterization.
    Keywords:  Activators; Crystallography; Drug discovery; Protein lysine deacylation; Sirtuins
  12. Antiviral Res. 2023 Aug 09. pii: S0166-3542(23)00176-6. [Epub ahead of print]217 105698
      Peripheral blood monocytes are the cells predominantly responsible for systemic dissemination of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised patients. HCMV establishes a silent/quiescent infection in monocytes, which is defined by the lack of viral replication and lytic gene expression. The absence of replication shields the virus within infected monocytes from the current available antiviral drugs that are designed to suppress active replication. Our previous work has shown that HCMV stimulates a noncanonical phosphorylation of Akt and the subsequent upregulation of a distinct subset of prosurvival proteins in normally short-lived monocytes. In this study, we found that SIRT2 activity is required for the unique activation profile of Akt induced within HCMV-infected monocytes. Importantly, both therapeutic and prophylactic treatment with a novel SIRT2 inhibitor, FLS-379, promoted death of infected monocytes via both the apoptotic and necroptotic cell death pathways. Mechanistically, SIRT2 inhibition reduced expression of Mcl-1, an Akt-dependent antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family member, and enhanced activation of MLKL, the executioner kinase of necroptosis. We have previously reported HCMV to block necroptosis by stimulating cellular autophagy. Here, we additionally demonstrate that inhibition of SIRT2 suppressed Akt-dependent HCMV-induced autophagy leading to necroptosis of infected monocytes. Overall, our data show that SIRT2 inhibition can simultaneously promote death of quiescently infected monocytes by two distinct death pathways, apoptosis and necroptosis, which may be vital for limiting viral dissemination to peripheral organs in immunosuppressed patients.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; Cytomegalovirus; Monocyte; Necroptosis; Sirtuin 2; Small-molecule inhibitor
  13. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2023 ;11 1236968
      SIRT1 is the most conserved mammalian NAD+-dependent protein deacetylase. Through deacetylation of transcriptional factors and co-factors, this protein modification enzyme is critically involved in metabolic and epigenetic regulation of stem cells, which is functionally important in maintaining their pluripotency and regulating their differentiation. C-Myc, a key member of Myc proton-oncogene family, is a pivotal factor for transcriptional regulation of genes that control acquisition and maintenance of stemness. Previous cancer research has revealed an intriguing positive feedback loop between SIRT1 and c-Myc that is crucial in tumorigenesis. Recent literature has uncovered important functions of this axis in regulation of maintenance and differentiation of stem cells, including pluripotent stem cells and cancer stem cells. This review highlights recent advances of the SIRT1-c-Myc axis in stem cells.
    Keywords:  SIRT1; c-Myc; c-Myc/Max heterodimer; deacetylation; differentiation; pluripotency; positive feedback loop; stem cells