bims-toxgon Biomed News
on Toxoplasma gondii metabolism
Issue of 2023‒12‒24
thirty-one papers selected by
Lakesh Kumar, BITS Pilani

  1. bioRxiv. 2023 Dec 08. pii: 2023.12.08.570852. [Epub ahead of print]
      Toxoplasma gondii, a widespread parasite, has the ability to infect nearly any nucleated cell in warm-blooded vertebrates. It is estimated that around 2 billion people globally have been infected by this pathogen. Although most healthy individuals can effectively control parasite replication, certain parasites may evade the immune response, establishing cysts in the brain that are refractory to the immune system and resistance to available drugs. For its chronic persistence in the brain, the parasite relies on host cells' nutrients, particularly amino acids and lipids. Therefore, understanding how latent parasites persist in the brain is crucial for identifying potential drug targets against chronic forms. While shielded within parasitophorous vacuoles (PVs) or cysts, Toxoplasma exploits the host endoplasmic reticulum (ER) metabolism to sustains its persistence in the brain, resulting in host neurological alterations. In this study, we demonstrate that T. gondii disrupts the host ER homeostasis, resulting in accumulation of unfolded protein with the host ER. The host counters this stress by initiating an autophagic pathway known as ER-phagy, which breaks down unfolded proteins into amino acids, promoting their recycling. Remarkably, the persistence of latent forms in cell culture as well as behavioral changes in mice caused by the latent infection could be successfully reversed by restricting the availability of various amino acids during T. gondi infection. Our findings unveil the underlying mechanisms employed by T. gondii to exploit host ER and lysosomal pathways, enhancing nutrient levels during infection. These insights provide new strategies for the treatment of toxoplasmosis.Importance: Intracellular parasites employ several mechanisms to manipulate the cellular environment, enabling them to persist in the host. Toxoplasma gondii , a single-celled parasite, possesses the ability to infect virtually any nucleated cell of warm-blooded vertebrates, including nearly 2 billion people worldwide. Unfortunately, existing treatments and immune responses are not entirely effective in eliminating the chronic persisting forms of the parasite. This study reveals that T. gondii induces the host's autophagic pathway to boost amino acid levels in infected cells. The depletion of amino acids, in turn, influences the persistence of the parasite's chronic forms, resulting in a reduction of neurological alterations caused by chronic infection in mice. Significantly, our investigation establishes the crucial role of host ER-phagy in the parasite's persistence within the host during latent infection.
  2. Vet Res. 2023 Dec 19. 54(1): 123
      Toxoplasma gondii is a zoonotic parasite that infects one-third of the world's population and nearly all warm-blooded animals. Due to the complexity of T. gondii's life cycle, available treatment options have limited efficacy. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop new compounds or repurpose existing drugs with potent anti-Toxoplasma activity. This study demonstrates that bedaquiline (BDQ), an FDA-approved diarylquinoline antimycobacterial drug for the treatment of tuberculosis, potently inhibits the tachyzoites of T. gondii. At a safe concentration, BDQ displayed a dose-dependent inhibition on T. gondii growth with a half-maximal effective concentration (EC50) of 4.95 μM. Treatment with BDQ significantly suppressed the proliferation of T. gondii tachyzoites in the host cell, while the invasion ability of the parasite was not affected. BDQ incubation shrunk the mitochondrial structure and decreased the mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP level of T. gondii parasites. In addition, BDQ induced elevated ROS and led to autophagy in the parasite. By transcriptomic analysis, we found that oxidative phosphorylation pathway genes were significantly disturbed by BDQ-treated parasites. More importantly, BDQ significantly reduces brain cysts for the chronically infected mice. These results suggest that BDQ has potent anti-T. gondii activity and may impair its mitochondrial function by affecting proton transport. This study provides bedaquiline as a potential alternative drug for the treatment of toxoplasmosis, and our findings may facilitate the development of new effective drugs for the treatment of toxoplasmosis.
    Keywords:  RNA-seq; Toxoplasma gondii; autophagy; bedaquiline; mitochondria
  3. Sci Rep. 2023 Dec 15. 13(1): 22330
      Apicomplexan protozoa are intracellular parasites of medical and economic importance. These parasites contain specialized apical complex organelles, including rhoptries, that participate in the process of host cell invasion. Conserved antigens expressed in the rhoptries are rational vaccine targets, but whether conservation of protein structure is a functional requirement for invasion remains unknown. Novel protein structural modeling enables identification of structurally conserved protein families that are not evident by sequence analysis alone. Here we show by AlphaFold2 structural modeling that the rhoptry-associated protein 1 superfamily of the Piroplasmida hemoparasites Babesia and Theileria (pRAP-1) is structurally conserved, with the core conserved region being composed of a globin-like and a 4-helix bundle subdomain. Search for structurally related members of this protein family in other apicomplexan parasites revealed structural homologues of pRAP-1 in several species of Plasmodium, Toxoplasma gondii and other members of the Sarcocystidae family. Based on these structural findings, pRAP-1 is a conserved apical complex protein, but whether these proteins share functional features in different species remains unknown. Identification of widely conserved elements involved in infection in these parasites will enhance our knowledge of invasion mechanisms, and facilitate the design of methods for controlling diseases that affect humans and animals globally.
  4. mBio. 2023 Dec 22. e0305623
      Apicomplexa encompasses a large number of intracellular parasites infecting a wide range of animals. Cyclic nucleotide signaling is crucial for a variety of apicomplexan life stages and cellular processes. The cyclases and kinases that synthesize and respond to cyclic nucleotides (i.e., 3',5'-cyclic guanosine monophosphate and 3',5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate) are highly conserved and essential throughout the parasite phylum. Growing evidence indicates that phosphodiesterases (PDEs) are also critical for regulating cyclic nucleotide signaling via cyclic nucleotide hydrolysis. Here, we discuss recent advances in apicomplexan PDE biology and opportunities for therapeutic interventions, with special emphasis on the major human apicomplexan parasite genera Plasmodium, Toxoplasma, Cryptosporidium, and Babesia. In particular, we show a highly flexible repertoire of apicomplexan PDEs associated with a wide range of cellular requirements across parasites and lifecycle stages. Despite this phylogenetic diversity, cellular requirements of apicomplexan PDEs for motility, host cell egress, or invasion are conserved. However, the molecular wiring of associated PDEs is extremely malleable suggesting that PDE diversity and redundancy are key for the optimization of cyclic nucleotide turnover to respond to the various environments encountered by each parasite and life stage. Understanding how apicomplexan PDEs are regulated and integrating multiple signaling systems into a unified response represent an untapped avenue for future exploration.
    Keywords:  PDE; cAMP; cGMP; cyclic nucleotide; parasite; phosphodiesterase
  5. Front Immunol. 2023 ;14 1282278
      Introduction: Toxoplasma gondii, responsible for causing toxoplasmosis, is a prevalent food and waterborne pathogen worldwide. It commonly infects warm-blooded animals and affects more than a third of the global human population. Once ingested, the parasite enters the host's small intestine and rapidly disseminates throughout the body via the bloodstream, infiltrating various tissues. Leukocyte-driven responses are vital against T. gondii, with neutrophils playing a dual role: swiftly recruited to infection sites, releasing inflammatory mediators, and serving as a replication hub and Trojan horses, aiding parasite spread. Neutrophils from various hosts release extracellular traps (NETs) against the protozoan. However, gaps persist regarding the mechanisms of NETs production to parasite and their significance in infection control. This study investigates the interplay between human neutrophils and T. gondii, exploring dynamics, key molecules, and signaling pathways involved in NETs production upon protozoan challenge.Methods and Results: Using confocal and electron microscopy, live cell imaging, pharmacological inhibitors, and DNA quantification assays, we find that human neutrophils promptly release both classical and rapid NETs upon pathogen stimulation. The NETs structure exhibits diverse phenotypes over time and is consistently associated with microorganisms. Mechanisms involve neutrophil elastase and peptidylarginine deiminase, along with intracellular calcium signaling and the PI3K pathway. Unexpectedly, human traps do not diminish viability or infectivity, but potentially aid in capturing parasites for subsequent neutrophil phagocytosis and elimination.
    Discussion: By revealing NETs formation mechanisms and their nuanced impact on T. gondii infection dynamics, our findings contribute to broader insights into host-pathogen relationships.
    Keywords:  NET; Toxoplasma gondii; classic/rapid NETs; entrapment; human neutrophils; infectivity; live cell imaging; viability
  6. bioRxiv. 2023 Dec 09. pii: 2023.11.03.565597. [Epub ahead of print]
      The tubulin-containing cytoskeleton of the human parasite Toxoplasma gondii includes several distinct structures: the conoid, formed of 14 ribbon-like tubulin polymers, and the array of 22 cortical microtubules (MTs) rooted in the apical polar ring. Here we analyze the structure of developing daughter parasites using both 3D-SIM and expansion microscopy. Cortical MTs and the conoid start to develop almost simultaneously, but from distinct precursors near the centrioles. Cortical MTs are initiated in a fixed sequence, starting around the periphery of a short arc that extends to become a complete circle. The conoid also develops from an open arc into a full circle, with a fixed spatial relationship to the centrioles. The patterning of the MT array starts from a "blueprint" with ∼ 5-fold symmetry, switching to 22-fold rotational symmetry in the final product, revealing a major structural rearrangement during daughter growth. The number of MT is essentially invariant in the wild-type array, but is perturbed by the loss of some structural components of the apical polar ring. This study provides insights into the development of tubulin-containing structures that diverge from conventional models, insights that are critical for understanding the evolutionary paths leading to construction and divergence of cytoskeletal frameworks.
  7. Elife. 2023 Dec 18. pii: RP88088. [Epub ahead of print]12
      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 by ~4.5×. 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 cataloged 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 outer centriolar plaque 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 outer centriolar plaque until the start of segmentation. We also show that the mitochondrion and apicoplast undergo sequential fission events while maintaining an association with the outer centriolar plaque 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.
    Keywords:  MTOC; P. falciparum; Plasmodium; cytokinesis; expansion microscopy; infectious disease; malaria; microbiology
  8. Parasitol Res. 2023 Dec 23. 123(1): 69
      Toxoplasmosis is a worldwide zoonosis caused by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Although this infection is generally asymptomatic in immunocompetent individuals, it can cause serious clinical manifestations in newborns with congenital infection or in immunocompromised patients. As current treatments are not always well tolerated, there is an urgent need to find new drugs against human toxoplasmosis. Drug repurposing has gained considerable momentum in the last decade and is a particularly attractive approach for the search of therapeutic alternatives to treat rare and neglected diseases. Thus, in this study, we investigated the antiproliferative effect of several repurposed drugs. Of these, clofazimine and triclabendazole displayed a higher selectivity against T. gondii, affecting its replication. Furthermore, both compounds inhibited spermine incorporation into the parasite, which is necessary for the formation of other polyamines. The data reported here indicate that clofazimine and triclabendazole could be used for the treatment of human toxoplasmosis and confirms that drug repurposing is an excellent strategy to find new therapeutic targets of intervention.
    Keywords:  Drug repurposing; Polyamine transport; Toxoplasma gondii; Toxoplasmosis
  9. Cancer Rep (Hoboken). 2023 Dec 18. e1963
      BACKGROUND: Recently, immunotherapy has become very hopeful for cancer therapy. Cancer treatment through immunotherapy has excellent specificity and less toxicity than conventional chemoradiotherapy. Pathogens have been used in cancer immunotherapy for a long time. The current study aims to evaluate the possibility of Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) as a probable treatment for cancers such as melanoma, breast, ovarian, lung, and pancreatic cancer.RECENT FINDINGS: Nonreplicating type I uracil auxotrophic mutants of T. gondii can stimulate immune responses against tumors by reverse immunosuppression at the cellular level. T. gondii can be utilized to research T helper 1 (Th1) cell immunity in intracellular infections. Avirulent T. gondii uracil auxotroph vaccine can change the tumor's immunosuppression and improve the production of type 1 helper cell cytokines, i.e., Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and Interleukin-12 (IL-12) and activate tumor-related Cluster of Differentiation 8 (CD8+) T cells to identify and destroy cancer cells. The T. gondii profilin protein, along with T. gondii secreted proteins, have been found to exhibit promising properties in the treatment of various cancers. These proteins are being studied for their potential to inhibit tumor growth and enhance the effectiveness of cancer therapies. Their unique mechanisms of action make them valuable candidates for targeted interventions in ovarian cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, melanoma, and lung cancer treatments.
    CONCLUSION: In summary, the study underscores the significant potential of harnessing T. gondii, including its diverse array of proteins and antigens, particularly in its avirulent form, as a groundbreaking approach in cancer immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  Toxoplasma gondii; cancer; cancer immunotherapy; pathogen
  10. Trop Med Infect Dis. 2023 Nov 29. pii: 510. [Epub ahead of print]8(12):
      Toxoplasmosis is a disease that causes high mortality in immunocompromised individuals, such as AIDS patients, and sequelae in congenitally infected newborns. Despite its great medical importance, there are few treatments available and these are associated with adverse events and resistance. In this work, after screening the drugs present in the Medicines for Malaria Venture Pandemic Box, we found new hits with anti-Toxoplasma gondii activity. Through our analysis, we selected twenty-three drugs or drug-like compounds that inhibited the proliferation of T. gondii tachyzoites in vitro by more than 50% at a concentration of 1 µM after seven days of treatment. Nineteen of these compounds have never been reported active before against T. gondii. Inhibitory curves showed that most of these drugs were able to inhibit parasite replication with IC50 values on the nanomolar scale. To better understand the unprecedented effect of seven compounds against T. gondii tachyzoites, an ultrastructural analysis was carried out using transmission electron microscopy. Treatment with 0.25 µM verdinexor, 3 nM MMV1580844, and 0.25 µM MMV019724 induced extensive vacuolization, complete ultrastructural disorganization, and lytic effects in the parasite, respectively, and all of them showed alterations in the division process. Treatment with 1 µM Eberconazole, 0.5 µM MMV1593541, 1 µM MMV642550, 1 µM RWJ-67657, and 1 µM URMC-099-C also caused extensive vacuolization in the parasite. The activity of these drugs against intracellular tachyzoites supports the idea that the drugs selected in the Pandemic Box could be potential future drugs for the treatment of acute toxoplasmosis.
    Keywords:  drug repositioning; new therapies; toxoplasmosis; treatment; ultrastructure
  11. Pathogens. 2023 Nov 30. pii: 1412. [Epub ahead of print]12(12):
      Toxoplasma gondii is a widespread protozoan parasite that infects most warm-blooded animals, and felids can serve as intermediate and definitive hosts. Pathological diagnosis and serological and etiological investigations were conducted on a captive caracal (Caracal caracal) carcass collected from China in 2022. Pathological diagnosis revealed that cardiac insufficiency, pulmonary edema, hepatic failure, and renal insufficiency were the causes of the caracal's death. A modified agglutination test (cut-off: 1:25) revealed that IgG antibodies against T. gondii were present in the myocardium juice (1:1600), ascitic fluid (1:3200), and hydropericardium (1:800). A viable T. gondii (TgCaracalCHn2) strain was isolated from the tissue samples (heart, brain, spleen, and skeletal muscle) of this caracal using a mouse bioassay. The genotype of TgCaracalCHn2 was ToxoDB#5 (Type II variant), as determined via RFLP-PCR. The strain was avirulent in Swiss mice and matched the prediction of ROP18 and ROP5 gene alleles of TgCaracalCHn2 (2/2). Mild tissue cysts (203 ± 265) were observed in mice brains after inoculation with TgCaracalCHn2 tachyzoites. ToxoDB#5 is the dominant genotype in North American wildlife, and this is the first documented isolation of T. gondii ToxoDB#5 from China. This indicates that caracal plays an important role in the transmission of this T. gondii genotype.
    Keywords:  China; ToxoDB#5; Toxoplasma gondii; caracal (Caracal caracal); transmission; virulence
  12. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2023 Dec 15. 17(12): e0011829
      Toxoplasma gondii is a zoonotic parasite that can cause severe morbidity and mortality in warm-blooded animals, including marine mammals such as sea otters. Free-ranging cats can shed environmentally resistant T. gondii oocysts in their feces, which are transported through rain-driven runoff from land to sea. Despite their large population sizes and ability to contribute to environmental oocyst contamination, there are limited studies on T. gondii oocyst shedding by free-ranging cats. We aimed to determine the frequency and genotypes of T. gondii oocysts shed by free-ranging domestic cats in central coastal California and evaluate whether genotypes present in feces are similar to those identified in sea otters that died from fatal toxoplasmosis. We utilized a longitudinal field study of four free-ranging cat colonies to assess oocyst shedding prevalence using microscopy and molecular testing with polymerase chain reaction (PCR). T. gondii DNA was confirmed with primers targeting the ITS1 locus and positive samples were genotyped at the B1 locus. While oocysts were not visualized using microscopy (0/404), we detected T. gondii DNA in 25.9% (94/362) of fecal samples. We genotyped 27 samples at the B1 locus and characterized 13 of these samples at one to three additional loci using multi locus sequence typing (MLST). Parasite DNA detection was significantly higher during the wet season (16.3%, 59/362) compared to the dry season (9.7%; 35/362), suggesting seasonal variation in T. gondii DNA presence in feces. High diversity of T. gondii strains was characterized at the B1 locus, including non-archetypal strains previously associated with sea otter mortalities. Free-ranging cats may thus play an important role in the transmission of virulent T. gondii genotypes that cause morbidity and mortality in marine wildlife. Management of free-ranging cat colonies could reduce environmental contamination with oocysts and subsequent T. gondii infection in endangered marine mammals and people.
  13. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2023 Dec 11. pii: S0006-291X(23)01471-7. [Epub ahead of print]693 149377
      In most of the eukaryotes and archaea, isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and dimethyl allyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) essential building blocks of all isoprenoids synthesized in the mevalonate pathway. Here, the first enzyme of this pathway, acetoacetyl CoA thiolase (PFC_04095) from an archaea Pyrococcus furiosus is structurally characterized. The crystal structure of PFC_04095 is determined at 2.7 Å resolution, and the crystal structure reveals the absence of catalytic acid/base cysteine in its active site, which is uncommon in thiolases. In place of cysteine, His285 of HDAF motif performs both protonation and abstraction of proton during the reaction. The crystal structure shows that the distance between Cys83 and His335 is 5.4 Å. So, His335 could not abstract a proton from nucleophilic cysteine (Cys83), resulting in the loss of enzymatic activity of PFC_04095. MD simulations of the docked PFC_04095-acetyl CoA complex show substrate binding instability to the active site pocket. Here, we have reported that the stable binding of acetyl CoA to the PFC_04095 pocket requires the involvement of three protein complexes, i.e., thiolase (PFC_04095), DUF35 (PFC_04100), and HMGCS (PFC_04090).
    Keywords:  MD simulations; PFC_04095; Pyrococcus furiosus; Thiolase
  14. Parasitol Res. 2023 Dec 20. 123(1): 63
      Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum are cyst-forming coccidian parasites that infect both wild and domestic non-felids as intermediate hosts, with rodents serving as important reservoir hosts during their life cycles. This study was aimed at investigating T. gondii and N. caninum infections and identifying factors favouring T. gondii infection in free-ranging rats from India. A total of 181 rodents were trap-captured, and blood and brain samples were subsequently collected for serological and molecular examination of T. gondii and N. caninum. Antibodies against T. gondii and N. caninum were detected by MAT/NAT and IFAT in 13.8% (25/181) and 1.65% (3/181) of rodents, respectively. All three N. caninum samples positive by NAT/IFAT were also positive for ELISA, while for T. gondii, 19 of 25 MAT/IFAT positive samples were also positive for ELISA. The antibody titers (MAT/NAT/IFAT) of rodents seropositive for T. gondii ranged from 25 to 400, while those of rats seropositive for N. caninum ranged from 25 to 100. Also, using PCR, DNA from T. gondii (B1 gene) and N. caninum (NC5 gene) was found in 2.76% (5/181) of brain samples and 0.55% (1/181) of brain samples. All PCR positive samples were also seropositive. No mixed infections were observed in the serological and molecular detections. A Chi-square analysis revealed that older rats and rats living in urban areas are significantly associated with T. gondii infection; however, rodent species, gender, location, habitat types, and seasonality were statistically nonsignificant. Overall, this study demonstrated that T. gondii was widely distributed while N. caninum was less prevalent among free-ranging rats in the studied area.
    Keywords:  Free-ranging rats; Molecular detection; Nagpur; Neospora caninum; Serological detection; Toxoplasma gondii
  15. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2023 ;13 1332786
      [This corrects the article DOI: 10.3389/fcimb.2023.1145824.].
    Keywords:  CGI-1746; JH-II-127; Toxoplasma gondii; in vitro; infection
  16. Mol Microbiol. 2023 Dec 22.
      An essential process in transmission of the malaria parasite to the Anopheles vector is the conversion of mature gametocytes into gametes within the mosquito gut, where they egress from the red blood cell (RBC). During egress, male gametocytes undergo exflagellation, leading to the formation of eight haploid motile microgametes, while female gametes retain their spherical shape. Gametocyte egress depends on sequential disruption of the parasitophorous vacuole membrane and the host cell membrane. In other life cycle stages of the malaria parasite, phospholipases have been implicated in membrane disruption processes during egress, however their importance for gametocyte egress is relatively unknown. Here, we performed comprehensive functional analyses of six putative phospholipases for their role during development and egress of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes. We localize two of them, the prodrug activation and resistance esterase (PF3D7_0709700) and the lysophospholipase 1 (PF3D7_1476700), to the parasite plasma membrane. Subsequently, we show that disruption of most of the studied phospholipase genes does neither affect gametocyte development nor egress. The exception is the putative patatin-like phospholipase 3 (PF3D7_0924000), whose gene deletion leads to a delay in male gametocyte exflagellation, indicating an important, albeit not essential, role of this enzyme in male gametogenesis.
    Keywords:  egress; exflagellation; gametocyte; malaria; phospholipase
  17. Parasit Vectors. 2023 Dec 19. 16(1): 461
      Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite with a worldwide distribution. Toxoplasma gondii infections are of great concern for public health, and their impact is usually most severe in pregnant women and their foetuses, and in immunocompromised individuals. Displaying considerable genetic diversity, T. gondii strains differ widely according to geographical location, with archetypal strains predominantly found in the Northern Hemisphere and non-archetypal (atypical) strains, with highly diverse genotypes, found mainly in South America. In this review, we present an overview of the identification and distribution of non-archetypal strains of T. gondii. Special attention is paid to the strains that have been isolated in Brazil, their interaction with the host immunological response, and their impact on disease outcomes. The genetic differences among the strains are pivotal to the distinct immunological responses that they elicit. These differences arise from polymorphisms of key proteins released by the parasite, which represent important virulence factors. Infection with divergent non-archetypal strains can lead to unusual manifestations of the disease, even in immunocompetent individuals.
    Keywords:  Atypical strains; Immunity; Toxoplasmosis; Virulence factors
  18. P R Health Sci J. 2023 Dec;42(4): 269-275
      Sirtuins (SIRTs) constitute a family of enzyme-type proteins dependent on nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. These enzymes are considered cellular metabolic sensors since the cell's energy level can regulate their activity to compensate for energy fluctuations. They constitute an evolutionarily conserved family of deacetylases class III enzymes, with a recognized role in prolonging life expectancy. Sirtuins are related to the development of age-associated pathologies, such as cancer, diabetes, neurodegeneration, and metabolic disorders. This group of enzymes has become a possible therapeutic target due to their capacity for modulating cellular processes, such as genome repair and maintenance, and for regulating metabolic pathways, homeostasis, and cell proliferation. In addition, SIRTs are associated with pathologies such as cancer and COVID-19. There is a need for future studies that will clarify the relationship between these enzymes group and the prevention and development of diseases.
    Keywords:  Enzyme; Metabolism; NAD deacetylases; Oxidative stress; Sirtuins
  19. Parasitol Res. 2023 Dec 20. 123(1): 64
      This study aimed to investigate the effect of rosuvastatin treatment on anxiety-related behavior and short- and long-term memory impairment in mice infected with acute RH and BRI strains of Toxoplasma gondii. Balb/C mice were infected intraperitoneally and after 2 h, oral treatment with rosuvastatin (40 mg/kg/day) was initiated for 4 days. Behaviors related to anxiety and locomotion were evaluated in the open field (OF), and short- and long-term memory through the novel object recognition test (NOR). At the end of the experiments, peritoneal fluid, brain, liver, and lung were collected for T. gondii DNA quantification and histopathological analysis. Infection with BRI strain reduced the dwell time and central locomotion in the OF (p < 0.05), indicating anxiogenic type behavior, while treatment with rosuvastatin reversed this response (p < 0.05). RH strain infection did not alter any behavior in the OF (p > 0.05) and both strains impaired short- and long-term memory (NOR test), but with no significant treatment effect (p > 0.05). The BRI strain was shown to be more damaging in relation to anxiogenic type behavior when compared to the RH strain (p < 0.05), whereas rosuvastatin reduced this damaging effect in BRI. The treatment reduced the parasite load in the peritoneal lavage, liver, and lung of animals infected with both acute strains; however, it significantly (p < 0.05) attenuated the inflammatory process only in BRI-infected and treated animals, showing that non-archetypal genotypes are more damaging in rodents. This suggests that rosuvastatin may be a drug with great therapeutic potential against T. gondii mainly to reduce damage from virulent strains.
    Keywords:  Anxiety-like behavior; Locomotor activity; Memory; Statins; Toxoplasmosis
  20. Autophagy Rep. 2023 Aug 17. 2(1): 2247309
      Macroautophagy/autophagy is a degradative pathway that plays an important role in maintaining cellular homeostasis in eukaryotes. During autophagy, cisternal compartments called phagophores are generated to sequester intracellular components; these structures mature into autophagosomes, which deliver the cargo into lysosomes/vacuoles for degradation. Numerous autophagy-related (Atg) proteins are part of the core machinery that mediates autophagosome biogenesis. Atg9, a lipid scramblase and the only multispanning transmembrane protein among the core Atg machinery, traffics between cytoplasmic reservoirs and the phagophore assembly site (PAS) to provide membranes, recruit other Atg proteins and rearrange lipids on the phagophore membrane. However, the factors mediating Atg9 trafficking remain to be fully understood. In our recent study, we found that the yeast dynamin-like GTPase Vps1 (vacuolar protein sorting 1) is involved in autophagy and is important for Atg9 transport to the PAS. Moreover, we showed that Vps1 function in autophagy requires its GTPase and oligomerization activities. Interestingly, specific mutations in DNM2 (dynamin 2), one of the human homologs of Vps1 that have been linked with specific human diseases such as microcytic anemia and Charcot-Marie-Tooth, also impairs Atg9 transport to the PAS, suggesting that a defect in autophagy may underlay the pathophysiology of these severe human pathologies.
    Keywords:  Autophagosome; DNM2; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; autophagy; phagophore; traffic
  21. Virology. 2023 Dec 02. pii: S0042-6822(23)00262-3. [Epub ahead of print]590 109943
      The Ibaraki virus (IBAV) causes Ibaraki disease in cattle. Our previous studies have shown that IBAV uses macropinocytosis to enter the host cell and exit from the endosome to the cytosol in response to endosomal acidification. To further explore the mechanism of IBAV infection and replication, we examined the effect of inhibitors of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenyl hydrazone (CCCP) and antimycin A, on IBAV propagation. These inhibitors significantly suppressed IBAV propagation, with reduced cellular ATP levels resulting from suppression of ATP synthesis. Furthermore, we identified AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is activated by CCCP or antimycin A, as a key signaling molecule in IBAV suppression. We also observed that IBAV infection induces ATP depletion and increases AMPK activity. Our findings suggest that AMPK is a potential target in Ibaraki disease.
    Keywords:  AMPK; ATP; Ibaraki virus; Mitochondria; Orbivirus
  22. bioRxiv. 2023 Dec 07. pii: 2023.12.06.570342. [Epub ahead of print]
      The Target of Rapamycin kinase Complex I (TORC1) regulates cell growth and metabolism in eukaryotes. Previous studies have shown that, in Saccharomyces cerevisiae , nitrogen and amino acid signals activate TORC1 via the highly conserved small GTPases, Gtr1/2, and the phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate binding protein, Pib2. However, it was unclear if/how Gtr1/2 and Pib2 cooperate to control TORC1. Here we report that this dual regulator system pushes TORC1 into three distinct signaling states: (i) a Gtr1/2 on, Pib2 on, rapid growth state in nutrient replete conditions; (ii) a Gtr1/2 off, Pib2 on, adaptive/slow growth state in poor-quality growth medium; and (iii) a Gtr1/2 off, Pib2 off, quiescent state in starvation conditions. We suggest that other signaling pathways work in a similar way, to drive a multi-level response via a single kinase, but the behavior has been overlooked since most studies follow signaling to a single reporter protein.
  23. J Biol Chem. 2023 Dec 13. pii: S0021-9258(23)02591-7. [Epub ahead of print] 105563
      Intermediary metabolites and flux through various pathways have emerged as key determinants of post-translational modifications. Independently, dynamic fluctuations in their concentrations are known to drive cellular energetics in a bi-directional manner. Notably, intracellular fatty acid pools that drastically change during fed and fasted states act as precursors for both ATP production and fatty acylation of proteins. Protein fatty acylation is well regarded for its role in regulating structure and functions of diverse proteins, however the effect of intracellular concentrations of fatty acids on protein modification is less understood. In this regard, we unequivocally demonstrate that metabolic contexts, viz. fed and fasted states, dictate the extent of global fatty acylation. Moreover, we show that presence or absence of glucose, that influences cellular and mitochondrial uptake/utilization of fatty acids, affects palmitoylation and oleoylation, which is consistent with their intracellular abundance in fed and fasted states. Employing complementary approaches including click-chemistry, lipidomics and imaging, we show the top-down control of cellular metabolic state. Importantly, our results establish the crucial role of mitochondria and retrograde signaling components like SIRT4, AMPK and mTOR in orchestrating protein fatty acylation at a whole cell level. Specifically, pharmacogenetic perturbations that alter either mitochondrial functions and/or retrograde signaling affect protein fatty acylation. Besides illustrating the cross-talk between carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in mediating bulk post-translational modification, our findings also highlight the involvement of mitochondrial energetics.
    Keywords:  Acylation; acyl exchange; free fatty acids; oleate; palmitate; sirtuins
  24. Bioorg Chem. 2023 Dec 19. pii: S0045-2068(23)00700-9. [Epub ahead of print]143 107039
      Autophagy is a ubiquitous pathological/physiological antioxidant cellular reaction in eukaryotic cells. Vacuolar protein sorting 34 (Vps34 or PIK3C3), which plays a crucial role in autophagy, has received much attention. As the only Class III phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase in mammals, Vps34 participates in vesicular transport, nutrient signaling and autophagy. Dysfunctionality of Vps34 induces carcinogenesis, and abnormal autophagy mediated by dysfunction of Vps34 is closely related to the pathological progression of various human diseases, which makes Vps34 a novel target for tumor immunotherapy. In this review, we summarize the molecular mechanisms underlying macroautophagy, and further discuss the structure-activity relationship of Vps34 inhibitors that have been reported in the past decade as well as their potential roles in anticancer immunotherapy to better understand the antitumor mechanism underlying the effects of these inhibitors.
    Keywords:  Autolysosome; Autophagy; Mechanism; Tumor immunotherapy; Vps34 inhibitors
  25. Front Immunol. 2023 ;14 1277955
      Background: Rhoptry organelle proteins (ROPs) secreted by apicomplexan parasites play important roles during parasites invasion and survival in host cells, and are potential vaccine candidates against apicomplexan diseases. Eimeria tenella (E. tenella) is one of the most noteworthy apicomplexan species, which causes hemorrhagic pathologies. Although dozens of putative E. tenella ROP sequences are annotated, most ROP proteins are not well studied.Methods: In this study, an E. tenella ROP21 gene was identified and the recombinant EtROP21 protein (rEtROP21) was expressed in Escherichia coli. The developmental expression levels, localization, and protective efficacy against E. tenella infection in chickens were studied.
    Results: An EtROP21 gene fragment with an open reading frame (ORF) of 981 bp was obtained from the Beijing strain of E. tenella. The rEtROP21 has a molecular weight of approximately 50 kDa and was recognized by rEtROP21-immunized mouse serum. Two specific protein bands, about 43 KDa and 95 KDa in size, were detected in the whole sporozoite proteins using the rEtROP21-immunized chicken serum. RT-qPCR analysis of the E. tenella ROP21 gene (EtROP21) revealed that its mRNA levels were higher in merozoites and sporozoites than in sporulated and unsporulated oocysts. Immunofluorescence and immunoelectron analyses showed that the EtROP21 protein predominantly localizes in the bulb region of rhoptries distributed at anterior, posterior, and perinuclear regions of E. tenella sporozoites. Immunization and challenge experiments revealed that immunizing chickens with rEtROP21 significantly increased their average body weight gain while decreasing mean lesion score and oocyst output (P <0.05). When compared with the challenged control group, the rEtROP21-immunized group was associated with a significantly higher relative weight gain (90.2%) and a greater reduction in oocyst output (67%) (P <0.05). The anticoccidial index of the rEtROP21-immunized group was 163.2. Chicken serum ELISA revealed that the levels of the specific anti- rEtROP21 antibody, IFN-γ, and IL-4 were significantly higher in the rEtROP21-immunized group than in the challenged control group (P <0.05).
    Conclusion: These results indicate that rEtROP21 can induce a high level of specific immune response and it is a potential candidate for the development of vaccines against E. tenella infection in chickens.
    Keywords:  Eimeria tenella; EtROP21; localization; protective efficacy; rhoptry protein
  26. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2023 Nov 22. pii: 1639. [Epub ahead of print]16(12):
      Research into histone deacetylases (HDACs) has experienced a remarkable surge in recent years. These enzymes are key regulators of several fundamental biological processes, often associated with severe and potentially fatal diseases. Inhibition of their activity represents a promising therapeutic approach and a prospective strategy for the development of new therapeutic agents. A critical aspect of their inhibition is to achieve selectivity in terms of enzyme isoforms, which is essential to improve treatment efficacy while reducing undesirable pleiotropic effects. The development of computational chemistry tools, particularly molecular docking, is greatly enhancing the precision of designing molecules with inherent potential for specific activity. Therefore, it was considered necessary to review the molecular docking studies conducted on the major isozymes of the enzyme in order to identify the specific interactions associated with each selective HDAC inhibitor. In particular, the most critical isozymes of HDAC (1, 2, 3, 6, and 8) have been thoroughly investigated within the scope of this review.
    Keywords:  enzyme inhibition; histone deacetylases; interactions; isoforms; molecular docking
  27. J Fungi (Basel). 2023 Dec 11. pii: 1187. [Epub ahead of print]9(12):
      Understanding the molecular basis of cancer initiation and progression is critical in developing effective treatment strategies. Recently, mutations in genes encoding histone proteins that drive oncogenesis have been identified, converting these essential proteins into "oncohistones". Understanding how oncohistone mutants, which are commonly single missense mutations, subvert the normal function of histones to drive oncogenesis requires defining the functional consequences of such changes. Histones genes are present in multiple copies in the human genome with 15 genes encoding histone H3 isoforms, the histone for which the majority of oncohistone variants have been analyzed thus far. With so many wildtype histone proteins being expressed simultaneously within the oncohistone, it can be difficult to decipher the precise mechanistic consequences of the mutant protein. In contrast to humans, budding and fission yeast contain only two or three histone H3 genes, respectively. Furthermore, yeast histones share ~90% sequence identity with human H3 protein. Its genetic simplicity and evolutionary conservation make yeast an excellent model for characterizing oncohistones. The power of genetic approaches can also be exploited in yeast models to define cellular signaling pathways that could serve as actionable therapeutic targets. In this review, we focus on the value of yeast models to serve as a discovery tool that can provide mechanistic insights and inform subsequent translational studies in humans.
    Keywords:  budding yeast; cancer; epigenetics; fission yeast; histone; oncohistone
  28. ACS Pharmacol Transl Sci. 2023 Dec 08. 6(12): 1924-1933
      High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) is the deadliest gynecologic malignancy in women. The low survival rate is largely due to drug resistance. Approximately 80% of patients who initially respond to treatment relapse and become drug-resistant. The lack of effective second-line therapeutics remains a substantial challenge for BRCA-1/2 wild-type HGSOC patients. Histone Deacetylases (HDACs) are promising targets in HGSOC treatment; however, the mechanism and efficacy of HDAC inhibitors are understudied in HGSOC. In order to consider HDACs as a treatment target, an improved understanding of their function within HGSOC is required. This includes elucidating HDAC6-specific protein-protein interactions. In this study, we carried out substrate trapping followed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to elucidate HDAC6 catalytic domain (CD)-specific interactors in the context of BRCA-1/2 wild-type HGSOC. Overall, this study identified new HDAC6 substrates that may be unique to HGSOC. The HDAC6-CD1 mutant condition contained the largest number of significant proteins compared to the CD2 mutant and the CD1/2 mutant conditions, suggesting the HDAC6-CD1 domain has catalytic activity that is independent of CD2. Among the identified substrates were proteins involved in DNA damage repair including PARP proteins. These findings further justify the use of HDAC inhibitors as a combination treatment with platinum chemotherapy agents and PARP inhibitors in HGSOC.
  29. Mol Cell Biochem. 2023 Dec 22.
      Polypyrimidine tract-binding protein 1 (PTBP1) is a member of the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) family, which plays a key role in alternative splicing of precursor mRNA and RNA metabolism. PTBP1 is universally expressed in various tissues and binds to multiple downstream transcripts to interfere with physiological and pathological processes such as the tumor growth, body metabolism, cardiovascular homeostasis, and central nervous system damage, showing great prospects in many fields. The function of PTBP1 involves the regulation and interaction of various upstream molecules, including circular RNAs (circRNAs), microRNAs (miRNAs) and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). These regulatory systems are inseparable from the development and treatment of diseases. Here, we review the latest knowledge regarding the structure and molecular functions of PTBP1 and summarize its functions and mechanisms of PTBP1 in various diseases, including controversial studies. Furthermore, we recommend future studies on PTBP1 and discuss the prospects of targeting PTBP1 in new clinical therapeutic approaches.
    Keywords:  Alternative splicing; Cancer; Cardiovascular diseases; Metabolic disease; Nervous system diseases; Polypyrimidine tract-binding protein 1 (PTBP1)
  30. PLoS One. 2023 ;18(12): e0293185
      Identifying novel therapeutic agents is a fundamental challenge in contemporary drug development, especially in the context of complex diseases like cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and metabolic syndromes. Here, we present a comprehensive computational study to identify potential inhibitors of SIRT1 (Sirtuin 1), a critical protein involved in various cellular processes and disease pathways. Leveraging the concept of drug repurposing, we employed a multifaceted approach that integrates molecular docking and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to predict the binding affinities and dynamic behavior of a diverse set of FDA-approved drugs from DrugBank against the SIRT1. Initially, compounds were shortlisted based on their binding affinities and interaction analyses to identify safe and promising binding partners for SIRT1. Among these candidates, Doxercalciferol and Timiperone emerged as potential candidates, displaying notable affinity, efficiency, and specificity towards the binding pocket of SIRT1. Extensive evaluation revealed that these identified compounds boast a range of favorable biological properties and prefer binding to the active site of SIRT1. To delve deeper into the interactions, all-atom MD simulations were conducted for 500 nanoseconds (ns). These simulations assessed the conformational dynamics, stability, and interaction mechanism of the SIRT1-Doxercalciferol and SIRT1-Timiperone complexes. The MD simulations illustrated that the SIRT1-Doxercalciferol and SIRT1-Timiperone complexes maintain stability over a 500 ns trajectory. These insightful outcomes propose that Doxercalciferol and Timiperone hold promise as viable scaffolds for developing potential SIRT1 inhibitors, with implications for tackling complex diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and metabolic syndromes.