bims-toxgon Biomed News
on Toxoplasma gondii metabolism
Issue of 2023‒10‒08
fifteen papers selected by
Lakesh Kumar, BITS Pilani

  1. mBio. 2023 Oct 05. e0176923
      Coiled-coil-helix-coiled-coil-helix (CHCH) domains consist of two pairs of cysteine residues that are oxidized to form disulfide bonds upon mitochondrial import. Proteins containing these domains play important roles in mitochondrial ultrastructure and in the biogenesis, function, and stability of electron transport chain complexes. Interestingly, recent investigations of the Toxoplasma gondii ATP synthase identified subunits containing CHCH domains. As CHCH domain proteins have never been found in any other ATP synthase, their role in T. gondii was unclear. Using conditional gene knockdown systems, we investigated two T. gondii ATP synthase subunits containing CHCH domains: ATPTG8 and ATPTG9. We show that these two subunits are essential for the lytic cycle as well as stability and function of the ATP synthase. Further, we illustrated that their knockdown disrupts multiple aspects of mitochondrial morphology, including ultrastructure and cristae density. Mutation of key cysteine residues in the CHCH domains also caused mis-localization of the proteins. Our work suggests that these proteins likely provide structural support to the exceptionally large T. gondii ATP synthase complex and that perturbations to the structural integrity of this complex result in deleterious downstream effects on the parasite mitochondrion. These investigations add to a growing body of work focused on the divergent aspects of the apicomplexan ATP synthase, which could ultimately uncover novel drug targets. IMPORTANCE Members of the coiled-coil-helix-coiled-coil-helix (CHCH) domain protein family are transported into the mitochondrial intermembrane space, where they play important roles in the biogenesis and function of the organelle. Unexpectedly, the ATP synthase of the apicomplexan Toxoplasma gondii harbors CHCH domain-containing subunits of unknown function. As no other ATP synthase studied to date contains this class of proteins, characterizing their function will be of broad interest to the fields of molecular parasitology and mitochondrial evolution. Here, we demonstrate that that two T. gondii ATP synthase subunits containing CHCH domains are required for parasite survival and for stability and function of the ATP synthase. We also show that knockdown disrupts multiple aspects of the mitochondrial morphology of T. gondii and that mutation of key residues in the CHCH domains caused mis-localization of the proteins. This work provides insight into the unique features of the apicomplexan ATP synthase, which could help to develop therapeutic interventions against this parasite and other apicomplexans, such as the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
    Keywords:  ATP synthase; Toxoplasma; mitochondria
  2. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2023 ;11 1163574
      Phosphoinositides are a biologically essential class of phospholipids that contribute to organelle membrane identity, modulate membrane trafficking pathways, and are central components of major signal transduction pathways that operate on the cytosolic face of intracellular membranes in eukaryotes. Apicomplexans (such as Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium spp.) are obligate intracellular parasites that are important causative agents of disease in animals and humans. Recent advances in molecular and cell biology of Apicomplexan parasites reveal important roles for phosphoinositide signaling in key aspects of parasitosis. These include invasion of host cells, intracellular survival and replication, egress from host cells, and extracellular motility. As Apicomplexans have adapted to the organization of essential signaling pathways to accommodate their complex parasitic lifestyle, these organisms offer experimentally tractable systems for studying the evolution, conservation, and repurposing of phosphoinositide signaling. In this review, we describe the regulatory mechanisms that control the spatial and temporal regulation of phosphoinositides in the Apicomplexan parasites Plasmodium and T. gondii. We further discuss the similarities and differences presented by Apicomplexan phosphoinositide signaling relative to how these pathways are regulated in other eukaryotic organisms.
    Keywords:  Apicomplexa; eukaryotic parasites; lipid signaling; phosphoinositides; phospholipids
  3. PLoS Pathog. 2023 Oct 02. 19(10): e1011707
      The inner membrane complex (IMC) of Toxoplasma gondii is essential for all phases of the parasite's life cycle. One of its most critical roles is to act as a scaffold for the assembly of daughter buds during replication by endodyogeny. While many daughter IMC proteins have been identified, most are recruited after bud initiation and are not essential for parasite fitness. Here, we report the identification of IMC43, a novel daughter IMC protein that is recruited at the earliest stages of daughter bud initiation. Using an auxin-inducible degron system we show that depletion of IMC43 results in aberrant morphology, dysregulation of endodyogeny, and an extreme defect in replication. Deletion analyses reveal a region of IMC43 that plays a role in localization and a C-terminal domain that is essential for the protein's function. TurboID proximity labelling and a yeast two-hybrid screen using IMC43 as bait identify 30 candidate IMC43 binding partners. We investigate two of these: the essential daughter protein IMC32 and a novel daughter IMC protein we named IMC44. We show that IMC43 is responsible for regulating the localization of both IMC32 and IMC44 at specific stages of endodyogeny and that this regulation is dependent on the essential C-terminal domain of IMC43. Using pairwise yeast two-hybrid assays, we determine that this region is also sufficient for binding to both IMC32 and IMC44. As IMC43 and IMC32 are both essential proteins, this work reveals the existence of a bud assembly complex that forms the foundation of the daughter IMC during endodyogeny.
  4. FASEB J. 2023 Nov;37(11): e23229
      Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate, intracellular apicomplexan protozoan parasite of both humans and animals that can cause fetal damage and abortion and severe disease in the immunosuppressed. Sphingolipids have indispensable functions as signaling molecules and are essential and ubiquitous components of eukaryotic membranes that are both synthesized and scavenged by the Apicomplexa. Ceramide is the precursor for all sphingolipids, and here we report the identification, localization and analyses of the Toxoplasma ceramide synthases TgCerS1 and TgCerS2. Interestingly, we observed that while TgCerS1 was a fully functional orthologue of the yeast ceramide synthase (Lag1p) capable of catalyzing the conversion of sphinganine to ceramide, in contrast TgCerS2 was catalytically inactive. Furthermore, genomic deletion of TgCerS1 using CRISPR/Cas-9 led to viable but slow-growing parasites indicating its importance but not indispensability. In contrast, genomic knock out of TgCerS2 was only accessible utilizing the rapamycin-inducible Cre recombinase system. Surprisingly, the results demonstrated that this "pseudo" ceramide synthase, TgCerS2, has a considerably greater role in parasite fitness than its catalytically active orthologue (TgCerS1). Phylogenetic analyses indicated that, as in humans and plants, the ceramide synthase isoforms found in Toxoplasma and other Apicomplexa may have arisen through gene duplication. However, in the Apicomplexa the duplicated copy is hypothesized to have subsequently evolved into a non-functional "pseudo" ceramide synthase. This arrangement is unique to the Apicomplexa and further illustrates the unusual biology that characterize these protozoan parasites.
  5. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2023 ;13 1288638
    Keywords:  actin dynamics; apicomplexan; host-parasite interactions; nutrient trafficking; organelle biogenesis
  6. Parasitol Res. 2023 Oct 02.
      Oral infection of mice with several strains of Toxoplasma gondii results in intestinal pathological lesions, which contributes to the invasion of this parasite. However, the exact mechanism is unclear, and only a few strains have been explored. Here, T. gondii TgSheepCHn5 and TgRedpandaCHn1 strains from sheep and red panda were evaluated. The TgSheepCHn5 and TgRedpandaCHn1 strains induced intestinal lesions, loss of Paneth cells, and gut commensal bacteria dysbiosis in Swiss Webster mice. The lesions and loss of Paneth cells were dependent on IFN-γ and gut commensal bacteria during T. gondii infection. Deleting IFN-γ or gut commensal bacteria suppressed the Th1 immune response, alleviated the lesions and parasite loading, and upregulated the number of Paneth cells. Loss of IFN-γ production accelerated mice death, whereas the deletion of gut commensal bacteria enhanced the survival time of the host. The Th1 cell immune responses have positive and negative effects on toxoplasmosis, resistance to T. gondii infection, and acceleration intestine lesions. Adjustment of Th1 cell responses and gut commensal bacteria may be effective treatments for toxoplasmosis.
    Keywords:  Gut commensal bacteria; IFN-γ; Paneth cells; TgRedpandaCHn1; TgSheepCHn5; Toxoplasma gondii
  7. Nat Commun. 2023 Oct 05. 14(1): 6208
      Lysine acetylation has been discovered in thousands of non-histone human proteins, including most metabolic enzymes. Deciphering the functions of acetylation is key to understanding how metabolic cues mediate metabolic enzyme regulation and cellular signaling. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), the rate-limiting enzyme in the pentose phosphate pathway, is acetylated on multiple lysine residues. Using site-specifically acetylated G6PD, we show that acetylation can activate (AcK89) and inhibit (AcK403) G6PD. Acetylation-dependent inactivation is explained by structural studies showing distortion of the dimeric structure and active site of G6PD. We provide evidence for acetylation-dependent K95/97 ubiquitylation of G6PD and Y503 phosphorylation, as well as interaction with p53 and induction of early apoptotic events. Notably, we found that the acetylation of a single lysine residue coordinates diverse acetylation-dependent processes. Our data provide an example of the complex roles of acetylation as a posttranslational modification that orchestrates the regulation of enzymatic activity, posttranslational modifications, and apoptotic signaling.
  8. Chem Biol Drug Des. 2023 Sep 30.
      Epigenetic regulation of genes through posttranslational regulation of proteins is a well-explored approach for disease treatment, particularly in cancer chemotherapy. Histone deacetylases have shown significant potential as effective drug targets in therapeutic studies aiming to restore epigenetic normality in oncology. Besides their role in modifying histones, histone deacetylases can also catalyze the deacetylation of various nonhistone proteins and participate in the regulation of multiple biological processes. This paper provides a review of the classification, structure, and functional characteristics of the four classes of human histone deacetylases. The increasing abundance of structural information on HDACs has led to the gradual elucidation of structural differences among subgroups and subtypes. This has provided a reasonable explanation for the selectivity of certain HDAC inhibitors. Currently, the US FDA has approved a total of six HDAC inhibitors for marketing, primarily for the treatment of various hematological tumors and a few solid tumors. These inhibitors all have a common pharmacodynamic moiety consisting of three parts: CAP, ZBG, and Linker. In this paper, the structure-effect relationship of HDAC inhibitors is explored by classifying the six HDAC inhibitors into three main groups: isohydroxamic acids, benzamides, and cyclic peptides, based on the type of inhibitor ZBG. However, there are still many questions that need to be answered in this field. In this paper, the structure-functional characteristics of HDACs and the structural information of the pharmacophore model and enzyme active region of HDAC is are considered, which can help to understand the inhibition mechanism of the compounds as well as the rational design of HDACs. This paper integrates the structural-functional characteristics of HDACs as well as the pharmacophore model of HDAC is and the structural information of the enzymatic active region, which not only contributes to the understanding of the inhibition mechanism of the compounds, but also provides a basis for the rational design of HDAC inhibitors.
    Keywords:  HDACI; HDACs; classification; function; pharmacodynamic groups; structure-effect relationship
  9. Cell Rep. 2023 Oct 03. pii: S2211-1247(23)01217-2. [Epub ahead of print]42(10): 113205
      Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 (TORC1) is a conserved eukaryotic protein complex that links the presence of nutrients with cell growth. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, TORC1 activity is positively regulated by the presence of amino acids and glucose in the medium. However, the mechanisms underlying nutrient-induced TORC1 activation remain poorly understood. By utilizing an in vivo TORC1 activation assay, we demonstrate that differential metabolism of glucose activates TORC1 through three distinct pathways in yeast. The first "canonical Rag guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase)-dependent pathway" requires conversion of glucose to fructose 1,6-bisphosphate, which activates TORC1 via the Rag GTPase heterodimer Gtr1GTP-Gtr2GDP. The second "non-canonical Rag GTPase-dependent pathway" requires conversion of glucose to glucose 6-phosphate, which activates TORC1 via a process that involves Gtr1GTP-Gtr2GTP and mitochondrial function. The third "Rag GTPase-independent pathway" requires complete glycolysis and vacuolar ATPase reassembly for TORC1 activation. We have established a roadmap to deconstruct the link between glucose metabolism and TORC1 activation.
    Keywords:  CP: Cell biology; CP: Metabolism; glucose signaling; glycolysis; mitochondrial function; target of rapamycin complex 1; vacuolar ATPase reassembly
  10. Physiol Genomics. 2023 Oct 02.
      Lysine is an essential amino acid that serves as a building block in protein synthesis. Beside this, lysine's metabolic activity has only recently been unraveled. Lysine metabolism is tissue specific and is linked to several renal, cardiovascular and endocrinological diseases through human metabolomics datasets. As a free molecule, lysine takes part in antioxidant response, engages in protein modifications and its chemistry shapes both proteome and metabolome. In the proteome, it is an acceptor for a plethora of posttranslational modifications. In the metabolome it can be modified, conjugated and degraded. Here, we provide an update on integrative physiology of mammalian lysine metabolites such as α-aminoadipic acid, saccharopine, pipecolic acid, and lysine conjugates such as acetyl-lysine, and sugar-lysine conjugates such as advanced glycation end products. We also comment on their emerging associative and mechanistic links to renal disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.
    Keywords:  Lysine; metabolism
  11. Exp Mol Med. 2023 Oct 02.
      Histone acetylation involves the transfer of two-carbon units to the nucleus that are embedded in low-concentration metabolites. We found that lactate, a high-concentration metabolic byproduct, can be a major carbon source for histone acetylation through oxidation-dependent metabolism. Both in cells and in purified nuclei, 13C3-lactate carbons are incorporated into histone H4 (maximum incorporation: ~60%). In the purified nucleus, this process depends on nucleus-localized lactate dehydrogenase (LDHA), knockout (KO) of which abrogates incorporation. Heterologous expression of nucleus-localized LDHA reverses the KO effect. Lactate itself increases histone acetylation, whereas inhibition of LDHA reduces acetylation. In vitro and in vivo settings exhibit different lactate incorporation patterns, suggesting an influence on the microenvironment. Higher nuclear LDHA localization is observed in pancreatic cancer than in normal tissues, showing disease relevance. Overall, lactate and nuclear LDHA can be major structural and regulatory players in the metabolism-epigenetics axis controlled by the cell's own status or the environmental status.
  12. Plant Physiol. 2023 Sep 28. pii: kiad509. [Epub ahead of print]
      Lysine acetylation is a conserved regulatory post-translational protein modification that is performed by lysine acetyltransferases (KATs). By catalyzing the transfer of acetyl groups to substrate proteins, KATs play critical regulatory roles in all domains of life; however, no KATs have yet been identified in cyanobacteria. Here, we tested all predicted KATs in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 (Syn7002) and demonstrated that A1596, which we named cyanobacterial Gcn5-related N-acetyltransferase (cGNAT2), can catalyze lysine acetylation in vivo and in vitro. Eight amino acid residues were identified as the key residues in the putative active site of cGNAT2, as indicated by structural simulation and site-directed mutagenesis. The loss of cGNAT2 altered both growth and photosynthetic electron transport in Syn7002. In addition, quantitative analysis of the lysine acetylome identified 548 endogenous substrates of cGNAT2 in Syn7002. We further demonstrated that cGNAT2 can acetylate NAD(P)H dehydrogenase J (NdhJ) in vivo and in vitro, with the inability to acetylate K89 residues, thus decreasing NdhJ activity and affecting both growth and electron transport in Syn7002. In summary, this study identified a KAT in cyanobacteria and revealed that cGNAT2 regulates growth and photosynthesis in Syn7002 through an acetylation-mediated mechanism.
  13. Curr Top Med Chem. 2023 Sep 28.
      Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship (QSAR) studies gained a foothold in the mid-1960s to rationalise the biological activity of medicinally important compounds. Since then, the advancements in computer hardware and software added many new techniques and areas to this field of study. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are one such technique in direct drug design approaches. MD simulations have a special place in drug design studies because they decode the dynamics of intermolecular interactions between a biological target and its potential ligands/inhibitors. The trajectories from MD simulations provide different non-bonding interaction parameters to assess the compatibility of the protein-ligand complex and thereby facilitate the design of prospective compounds prior to their wet-lab exploration. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) play a key role in epigenetics and they are promising drug targets for cancer and various other diseases. This review attempts to shed some light on the modelling studies of HDAC inhibitors as anticancer agents. In view of the advantages of MD simulations in direct drug design, this review also discusses the fragment-based approach in designing new inhibitors of HDAC8 and HDAC2, starting from the interaction energies of ligand fragments obtained from the MD simulations of respective protein-ligand complexes. Here, the design of new anticancer compounds from largazole thiol, trichostatin A, vorinostat, and several other prototype compounds are reviewed. These studies may stimulate the interest of medicinal chemists in MD simulations as a direct drug design approach for new drug development.
    Keywords:  Drug Design; HDAC; Molecular Dynamics Simulation; Non-bonding Energy.; QSAR
  14. Front Oncol. 2023 ;13 1240115
      Post-translational modifications (PTMs) are crucial regulatory mechanisms that alter the properties of a protein by covalently attaching a modified chemical group to some of its amino acid residues. PTMs modulate essential physiological processes such as signal transduction, metabolism, protein localization, and turnover and have clinical relevance in cancer and age-related pathologies. Majority of proteins undergo post-translational modifications, irrespective of their occurrence in or after protein biosynthesis. Post-translational modifications link to amino acid termini or side chains, causing the protein backbone to get cleaved, spliced, or cyclized, to name a few. These chemical modifications expand the diversity of the proteome and regulate protein activity, structure, locations, functions, and protein-protein interactions (PPIs). This ability to modify the physical and chemical properties and functions of proteins render PTMs vital. To date, over 200 different protein modifications have been reported, owing to advanced detection technologies. Some of these modifications include phosphorylation, glycosylation, methylation, acetylation, and ubiquitination. Here, we discuss about the existing as well as some novel post-translational protein modifications, with their implications in aberrant states, which will help us better understand the modified sites in different proteins and the effect of PTMs on protein functions in core biological processes and progression in cancer.
    Keywords:  cancer; covalent bond; post-translational modifications; protein function; protein structure; proteome diversity
  15. Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2023 Oct 03. pii: S0965-1748(23)00109-1. [Epub ahead of print] 104015
      We previously demonstrated that Aedes aegypti pyruvate kinase (AaPK) plays a key role in the regulation of both carbon and nitrogen metabolism in mosquitoes. To further elucidate whether AaPK can be post-translationally regulated by Ae. aegypti sirtuin 2 (AaSirt2), an NAD+-dependent deacetylase that catalyzes the removal of acetyl groups from acetylated lysine residues, we conducted a series of analysis in non-starved and starved female mosquitoes. Transcriptional and protein profiles of AaSirt2, analyzed by qPCR and western blots, indicated that the AaSirt2 is differentially modulated in response to sugar or blood feeding in mosquito tissues dissected at different times during the first gonotrophic cycle. We also found that AaSirt2 is localized in both cytosolic and mitochondrial cellular compartments of fat body and thorax. Multiple lysine-acetylated proteins were detected by western blotting in both cellular compartments. Furthermore, western blotting of immunoprecipitated proteins provided evidence that AaPK is lysine-acetylated and bound with AaSirt2 in the cytosolic fractions of fat body and thorax from non-starved and starved females. In correlation with these results, we also discovered that RNAi-mediated knockdown of AaSirt2 in the fat body of starved females significantly decreased AaPK protein abundance. Notably, survivorship of AaSirt2-deficient females maintained under four different nutritional regimens was not significantly affected. Taken together, our data reveal that AaPK is post-translationally regulated by AaSirt2.
    Keywords:  Enzyme regulation; Glucose and ammonia metabolism; Lysine acetylation; Post-translational modification; Protein deacetylation; Starvation