bims-toxgon Biomed News
on Toxoplasma gondii metabolism
Issue of 2023‒12‒31
eight papers selected by
Lakesh Kumar, BITS Pilani

  1. FASEB J. 2024 Jan;38(1): e23397
      Toxoplasma gondii relies heavily on the de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis pathway for fueling the high uridine-5'-monophosphate (UMP) demand during parasite growth. The third step of de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis is catalyzed by dihydroorotase (DHO), a metalloenzyme that catalyzes the reversible condensation of carbamoyl aspartate to dihydroorotate. Here, functional analyses of TgDHO reveal that tachyzoites lacking DHO are impaired in overall growth due to decreased levels of UMP, and the noticeably growth restriction could be partially rescued after supplementation with uracil or high concentrations of L-dihydroorotate in vitro. When pyrimidine salvage pathway is disrupted, both DHOH35A and DHOD284E mutant strains proliferated much slower than DHO-expressing parasites, suggesting an essential role of both TgDHO His35 and Asp284 residues in parasite growth. Additionally, DHO deletion causes the limitation of bradyzoite growth under the condition of uracil supplementation or uracil deprivation. During the infection in mice, the DHO-deficient parasites are avirulent, despite the generation of smaller tissue cysts. The results reveal that TgDHO contributes to parasite growth both in vitro and in vivo. The significantly differences between TgDHO and mammalian DHO reflect that DHO can be exploited to produce specific inhibitors targeting apicomplexan parasites. Moreover, potential DHO inhibitors exert beneficial effects on enzymatic activity of TgDHO and T. gondii growth in vitro. In conclusion, these data highlight the important role of TgDHO in parasite growth and reveal that it is a promising anti-parasitic target for future control of toxoplasmosis.
    Keywords:   Toxoplasma gondii ; dihydroorotase; growth; pyrimidine biosynthesis pathway; uridine-5′-monophosphate
  2. J Biol Chem. 2023 Dec 21. pii: S0021-9258(23)02610-8. [Epub ahead of print] 105582
      The intracellular parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, has developed sophisticated molecular strategies to subvert host processes and promote growth and survival. During infection, T. gondii replicates in a parasitophorous vacuole (PV) and modulates host functions through a network of secreted proteins. Of these, Mitochondrial Association Factor 1b (MAF1b) recruits host mitochondria to the PV, a process which confers an in vivo growth advantage, though the precise mechanisms remain enigmatic. To address this knowledge gap, we mapped the MAF1b interactome in human fibroblasts using a commercial Yeast-2-hybrid (Y2H) screen, which revealed several previously unidentified binding partners including the GAP domain of Ral GTPase Accelerating Protein α1 (RalGAPα1(GAP)). Recombinantly produced MAF1b and RalGAPα1(GAP) formed as a stable binary complex as shown by size exclusion chromatography with a Kd of 334 nM as measured by isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). Notably, no binding was detected between RalGAPα1(GAP) and the structurally conserved MAF1b homolog, MAF1a, which does not recruit host mitochondria. Next, we used hydrogen deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) to map the RalGAPα1(GAP)-MAF1b interface, which led to identification of the "GAP-binding loop" on MAF1b that was confirmed by mutagenesis and ITC to be necessary for complex formation. A high confidence Alphafold model predicts the GAP-binding loop to lie at the RalGAPα1(GAP)-MAF1b interface further supporting the HDX-MS data. Mechanistic implications of a RalGAPα1(GAP)-MAF1b complex are discussed in the context of T. gondii infection and indicates that MAF1b may have evolved multiple independent functions to increase T. gondii fitness.
    Keywords:  GTPase activating protein (GAP); RalGAPα1; Toxoplasma gondii; host mitochondrial association; host-pathogen interaction; hydrogen exchange mass spectrometry; hydrogen-deuterium exchange; isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC); molecular modelling
  3. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2024 Jan 02. 121(1): e2315865120
      To define cellular immunity to the intracellular pathogen Toxoplasma gondii, we performed a genome-wide CRISPR loss-of-function screen to identify genes important for (interferon gamma) IFN-γ-dependent growth restriction. We revealed a role for the tumor suppressor NF2/Merlin for maximum induction of Interferon Stimulated Genes (ISG), which are positively regulated by the transcription factor IRF-1. We then performed an ISG-targeted CRISPR screen that identified the host E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF213 as necessary for IFN-γ-mediated control of T. gondii in multiple human cell types. RNF213 was also important for control of bacterial (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and viral (Vesicular Stomatitis Virus) pathogens in human cells. RNF213-mediated ubiquitination of the parasitophorous vacuole membrane (PVM) led to growth restriction of T. gondii in response to IFN-γ. Moreover, overexpression of RNF213 in naive cells also impaired growth of T. gondii. Surprisingly, growth inhibition did not require the autophagy protein ATG5, indicating that RNF213 initiates restriction independent of a previously described noncanonical autophagy pathway. Mutational analysis revealed that the ATPase domain of RNF213 was required for its recruitment to the PVM, while loss of a critical histidine in the RZ finger domain resulted in partial reduction of recruitment to the PVM and complete loss of ubiquitination. Both RNF213 mutants lost the ability to restrict growth of T. gondii, indicating that both recruitment and ubiquitination are required. Collectively, our findings establish RNF213 as a critical component of cell-autonomous immunity that is both necessary and sufficient for control of intracellular pathogens in human cells.
    Keywords:  CRISPR/Cas9; STAT1 signaling; anti-viral; genome-wide screen; interferon
  4. Eur J Med Chem. 2023 Dec 20. pii: S0223-5234(23)01024-3. [Epub ahead of print]265 116057
      Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are a group of enzymes that remove acetyl groups from histones, leading to the silencing of genes. Targeting specific isoforms of HDACs has emerged as a promising approach for cancer therapy, as it can overcome drawbacks associated with pan-HDAC inhibitors. HDAC6 is a unique HDAC isoform that deacetylates non-histone proteins and is primarily located in the cytoplasm. It also has two catalytic domains and a zinc-finger ubiquitin binding domain (Zf-UBD) unlike other HDACs. HDAC6 plays a critical role in various cellular processes, including cell motility, protein degradation, cell proliferation, and transcription. Hence, the deregulation of HDAC6 is associated with various malignancies. In this study, we report the design and synthesis of a series of HDAC6 inhibitors. We evaluated the synthesized compounds by HDAC enzyme assay and identified that compound 8g exhibited an IC50 value of 21 nM and 40-fold selective activity towards HDAC6. We also assessed the effect of compound 8g on various cell lines and determined its ability to increase protein acetylation levels by Western blotting. Furthermore, the increased acetylation of α-tubulin resulted in microtubule polymerization and changes in cell morphology. Our molecular docking study supported these findings by demonstrating that compound 8g binds well to the catalytic pocket via L1 loop of HDAC6 enzyme. Altogether, compound 8g represents a preferential HDAC6 inhibitor that could serve as a lead for the development of more potent and specific inhibitors.
    Keywords:  Epigenetics; Histone deacetylase 6; Lung cancer; Small molecule
  5. Front Physiol. 2023 ;14 1267456
      Skeletal muscles, the largest organ responsible for energy metabolism in most mammals, play a vital role in maintaining the body's homeostasis. Epigenetic modification, specifically histone acetylation, serves as a crucial regulatory mechanism influencing the physiological processes and metabolic patterns within skeletal muscle metabolism. The intricate process of histone acetylation modification involves coordinated control of histone acetyltransferase and deacetylase levels, dynamically modulating histone acetylation levels, and precisely regulating the expression of genes associated with skeletal muscle metabolism. Consequently, this comprehensive review aims to elucidate the epigenetic regulatory impact of histone acetylation modification on skeletal muscle metabolism, providing invaluable insights into the intricate molecular mechanisms governing epigenetic modifications in skeletal muscle metabolism.
    Keywords:  deacetylation; epigenetic modification; histone acetylation; muscle metabolism; skeletal muscle
  6. Neuroophthalmology. 2023 ;47(5-6): 309-310
    Keywords:  Toxoplasmosis; anti-toxoplasma treatment; corticosteroid; optic nerve; papillitis
  7. Proteins. 2023 Dec 25.
      Mitochondria play a central role in energy production and cellular metabolism. Mitochondria contain their own small genome (mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA) that carries the genetic instructions for proteins required for ATP synthesis. The mitochondrial proteome, including the mitochondrial transcriptional machinery, is subject to post-translational modifications (PTMs), including acetylation and phosphorylation. We set out to determine whether PTMs of proteins associated with mtDNA may provide a potential mechanism for the regulation of mitochondrial gene expression. Here, we focus on mitochondrial ribosomal protein L12 (MRPL12), which is thought to stabilize mitochondrial RNA polymerase (POLRMT) and promote transcription. Numerous acetylation sites of MRPL12 were identified by mass spectrometry. We employed amino acid mimics of the acetylated (lysine to glutamine mutants) and deacetylated (lysine to arginine mutants) versions of MRPL12 to interrogate the role of lysine acetylation in transcription initiation in vitro and mitochondrial gene expression in HeLa cells. MRPL12 acetyl and deacetyl protein mimics were purified and assessed for their ability to impact mtDNA promoter binding of POLRMT. We analyzed mtDNA content and mitochondrial transcript levels in HeLa cells upon overexpression of acetyl and deacetyl mimics of MRPL12. Our results suggest that MRPL12 single-site acetyl mimics do not change the mtDNA promoter binding ability of POLRMT or mtDNA content in HeLa cells. Individual acetyl mimics may have modest effects on mitochondrial transcript levels. We found that the mitochondrial deacetylase, Sirtuin 3, is capable of deacetylating MRPL12 in vitro, suggesting a potential role for dynamic acetylation controlling MRPL12 function in a role outside of the regulation of gene expression.
    Keywords:  acetylation; mitochondrial DNA; mitochondrial genome; mitochondrial proteins; post-translational protein modification; transcription
  8. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2023 Dec 22. pii: 176075. [Epub ahead of print]30(4): 640-644
      INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVE: Systemic toxoplasmosis with tissue-spread parasites occurring in intermediate hosts may also occur in immunocompromised cats (e.g., infected with FLV or FIV). To the best of our knowledge, no reports have been published on the detection and genotyping of T. gondii DNA in cats with extraintestinal toxoplasmosis in Poland. The article describes the case of the sudden death of 3 out of 4 cats in a cattery, and the detection and molecular characterization of T. gondii DNA detected in the tissues of one of the dead cats.MATERIAL AND METHODS: Samples of brain, lungs, heart, and liver of the cat that died suddenly were examined for the presence of T. gondii DNA (B1 gene) by nested PCR and real-time PCR. DNA positive samples were also genotyped at 12 genetic markers using multiplex multilocus nested PCR-RFLP (Mn-PCR-RFLP) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST).
    RESULTS: A total of 9 out of the 20 DNA samples were successfully amplified with nested and/or Real-time PCR. DNA from 3 out of 5 types of tested samples were genotyped (brain, heart and muscle). Mn-PCR-RFLP and MLST results revealed type II (and II/III at SAG1) alleles at almost all loci, except a clonal type I allele at the APICO locus. This profile corresponds to the ToxoDB#3 genotype, commonly identified amongst cats in Central Europe.
    CONCLUSIONS: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study describing the genetic characteristics of T. gondii population determined in a cat in Poland. These data confirm the importance of this host as a reservoir for this pathogen, and demonstrate the genotypic variation of this parasite. Veterinarians should take into account that cats may develop disseminated toxoplasmosis, and that it is a systemic disease which may lead to the death of the cat, and to transmission of the pathogen to other domestic animals and to humans.
    Keywords:  Toxoplasma gondii; cats; genotyping; systemic toxoplasmosis