bims-toxgon Biomed News
on Toxoplasma gondii metabolism
Issue of 2024‒03‒10
eight papers selected by
Lakesh Kumar, BITS Pilani

  1. Parasit Vectors. 2024 Mar 06. 17(1): 111
      Toxoplasmosis is a zoonosis caused by Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). The current treatment for toxoplasmosis remains constrained due to the absence of pharmaceutical interventions. Thus, the pursuit of more efficient targets is of great importance. Lipid metabolism in T. gondii, including fatty acid metabolism, phospholipid metabolism, and neutral lipid metabolism, assumes a crucial function in T. gondii because those pathways are largely involved in the formation of the membranous structure and cellular processes such as division, invasion, egress, replication, and apoptosis. The inhibitors of T. gondii's lipid metabolism can directly lead to the disturbance of various lipid component levels and serious destruction of membrane structure, ultimately leading to the death of the parasites. In this review, the specific lipid metabolism pathways, correlative enzymes, and inhibitors of lipid metabolism of T. gondii are elaborated in detail to generate novel ideas for the development of anti-T. gondii drugs that target the parasites' lipid metabolism.
    Keywords:   Toxoplasma gondii ; Cholesterol; Fatty acids; Lipid metabolism; Phospholipids; Toxoplasmosis
  2. Parasit Vectors. 2024 Mar 04. 17(1): 105
      BACKGROUND: The human sortilin protein is an important drug target and detection marker for cancer research. The sortilin from Toxoplasma gondii transports proteins associated with the apical organelles of the parasite. In this study, we aimed to determine the intracellular localization and structural domains of T. gondii sortilin, which may mediate protein transportation. Approaches to the functional inhibition of sortilin to establish novel treatments for T. gondii infections were explored.METHODS: A gene encoding the sortilin protein was identified in the T. gondii genome. Immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry were performed to identify the protein species transported by T. gondii sortilin. The interaction of each structural domain of sortilin with the transported proteins was investigated using bio-layer interferometry. The binding regions of the transported proteins in sortilin were identified. The effect of the sortilin inhibitor AF38469 on the infectivity of T. gondii was investigated. The binding site of AF38469 on sortilin was determined.
    RESULTS: The subdomains Vps10, sortilin-C, and sortilin-M of the sortilin were identified as the binding regions for intracellular transportation of the target proteins. The sortilin inhibitor AF38469 bound to the Vps10 structural domain of T. gondii sortilin, which inhibited parasite invasion, replication, and intracellular growth in vitro and was therapeutic in mice infected with T. gondii.
    CONCLUSION: The Vps10, sortilin-C, and sortilin-M subdomains of T. gondii sortilin were identified as functional regions for intracellular protein transport. The binding region for the sortilin inhibitor AF38469 was also identified as the Vps10 subdomain. This study establishes sortilin as a promising drug target against T. gondii and provides a valuable reference for the development of anti-T. gondii drug-target studies.
    Keywords:   Toxoplasma gondii ; AF38469; Bio-layer interferometry; Drug target; Sortilin; Vps10
  3. Front Microbiol. 2024 ;15 1336267
      Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite that modulates a broad range of host cell functions to guarantee its intracellular development and replication. T. gondii includes three classical clonal lineages exhibiting different degrees of virulence. Regarding the genetic diversity of T. gondii circulating in Europe, type II strains and, to a lesser extent, type III strains are the dominant populations, both in humans and animals. Infections with the type I strain led to widespread parasite dissemination and death in mice, while type III is considered avirulent. Previously, we demonstrated that primary endothelial cells infected with the T. gondii RH strain (haplotype I) were arrested in the G2/M-phase transition, triggering cytokinesis failure and chromosome missegregation. Since T. gondii haplotypes differ in their virulence, we here studied whether T. gondii-driven host cell cycle perturbation is strain-dependent. Primary endothelial cells were infected with T. gondii Me49 (type II strain) or NED (type III strain), and their growth kinetics were compared up to cell lysis (6-30 h p. i.). In this study, only slight differences in the onset of full proliferation were observed, and developmental data in principle matched those of the RH strain. FACS-based DNA quantification to estimate cell proportions experiencing different cell cycle phases (G0/1-, S-, and G2/M-phase) revealed that Me49 and NED strains both arrested the host cell cycle in the S-phase. Cyclins A2 and B1 as key molecules of S- and M-phase were not changed by Me49 infection, while NED infection induced cyclin B1 upregulation. To analyze parasite-driven alterations during mitosis, we demonstrated that both Me49 and NED infections led to impaired host cellular chromosome segregation and irregular centriole overduplication. Moreover, in line with the RH strain, both strains boosted the proportion of binucleated cells within infected endothelial cell layers, thereby indicating enhanced cytokinesis failure. Taken together, we demonstrate that all parasite-driven host cell cycle arrest, chromosome missegregation, and binucleated phenotypes are T. gondii-specific but strain independent.
    Keywords:  Me49 strain; NED strain; Toxoplasma gondii; cell cycle arrest; cell cycle dysregulation; haplotypes
  4. mBio. 2024 Mar 08. e0286423
      Intracellular infectious agents, like the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, face the daunting challenge of how to invade a host cell. This problem may be even harder when the host cell in question is the enucleated red blood cell, which lacks the host machinery co-opted by many pathogens for internalization. Evolution has provided P. falciparum and related single-celled parasites within the phylum Apicomplexa with a collection of organelles at their apical end that mediate invasion. This apical complex includes at least two sets of secretory organelles, micronemes and rhoptries, and several structural features like apical rings and a putative pore through which proteins may be introduced into the host cell during invasion. We perform cryogenic electron tomography (cryo-ET) equipped with Volta Phase Plate on isolated and vitrified merozoites to visualize the apical machinery. Through tomographic reconstruction of cellular compartments, we see new details of known structures like the rhoptry tip interacting directly with a rosette resembling the recently described rhoptry secretory apparatus (RSA), or with an apical vesicle docked beneath the RSA. Subtomogram averaging reveals that the apical rings have a fixed number of repeating units, each of which is similar in overall size and shape to the units in the apical rings of tachyzoites of Toxoplasma gondii. Comparison of these polar rings in Plasmodium and Toxoplasma parasites also reveals them to have a structurally conserved assembly pattern. These results provide new insight into the essential and structurally conserved features of this remarkable machinery used by apicomplexan parasites to invade their respective host cells.IMPORTANCE: Malaria is an infectious disease caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium and is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally. Upon infection, Plasmodium parasites invade and replicate in red blood cells, where they are largely protected from the immune system. To enter host cells, the parasites employ a specialized apparatus at their anterior end. In this study, advanced imaging techniques like cryogenic electron tomography (cryo-ET) and Volta Phase Plate enable unprecedented visualization of whole Plasmodium falciparum merozoites, revealing previously unknown structural details of their invasion machinery. Key findings include new insights into the structural conservation of apical rings shared between Plasmodium and its apicomplexan cousin, Toxoplasma. These discoveries shed light on the essential and conserved elements of the invasion machinery used by these pathogens. Moreover, the research provides a foundation for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying parasite-host interactions, potentially informing strategies for combating diseases caused by apicomplexan parasites.
    Keywords:  Plasmodium falciparum; Toxoplasma gondii; apical ring; cryo-electron tomography; rhoptry; subtomogram averaging
  5. Exp Parasitol. 2024 Mar 01. pii: S0014-4894(24)00030-4. [Epub ahead of print]259 108727
      Toxoplasmosis is a zoonosis that is a worldwide health problem, commonly affecting fetal development and immunodeficient patients. Treatment is carried out with a combination of pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine, which can cause cytopenia and intolerance and does not lead to a parasitological cure of the infection. Lysine deacetylases (KDACs), which remove an acetyl group from lysine residues in histone and non-histone proteins are found in the Toxoplasma gondii genome. Previous work showed the hydroxamate-type KDAC inhibitors Tubastatin A (TST) and Vorinostat (Suberoylanilide Hydroxamic Acid, SAHA) were effective against T. gondii. In the present study, the effects of three hydroxamates (KV-24, KV-30, KV-46), which were originally designed to inhibit human KDAC6, showed different effects against T. gondii. These compounds contain a heterocyclic cap group and a benzyl linker bearing the hydroxamic acid group in para-position. All compounds showed selective activity against T. gondii proliferation, inhibiting tachyzoite proliferation with IC50 values in a nanomolar range after 48h treatment. Microscopy analyses showed that after treatment, tachyzoites presented mislocalization of the apicoplast, disorganization of the inner membrane complex, and arrest in the completion of new daughter cells. The number of dividing cells with incomplete endodyogeny increased significantly after treatment, indicating the compounds can interfere in the late steps of cell division. The results obtained in this work that these new hydroxamates should be considered for future in vivo tests and the development of new compounds for treating toxoplasmosis.
    Keywords:  Anti-parasitic chemotherapy; Apicomplexa; Endodyogeny; Lysine deacetylase inhibitors
  6. Eur J Med Chem. 2024 Feb 27. pii: S0223-5234(24)00153-3. [Epub ahead of print]268 116273
      Autophagy is a process of self-renewal in cells, which not only provides the necessary nutrients for cells, but also clears necrotic organelles. Autophagy disorders are closely related to diseases such as cancer. UNC-51-like kinase 1 (ULK1) is a serine/threonine protein kinase that plays a crucial role in receiving input from energy and nutrient sensors, activating autophagy to maintain cellular homeostasis under stressful conditions. In recent years, targeting ULK1 has become a highly promising strategy for cancer treatment. This review introduces the regulatory mechanism of ULK1 in autophagy through the AMPK/mTOR/ULK1 pathway and reviews the research progress of ULK1 activators and inhibitors and their applications in cancer treatment. In addition, we analyze the binding modes between ULK1 and modulators through virtual molecular docking, which will provide a reliable basis and theoretical guidance for the design and development of new therapeutic drugs targeting ULK1.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cancer; Inhibitors; UNC-51-like kinase1
  7. Microbiology (Reading). 2024 Mar;170(3):
      The genetic background between strains of a single species and within a single strain lineage can significantly impact the expression of biological traits. This genetic variation may also reshape epigenetic mechanisms of cell identity and environmental responses that are controlled by interconnected transcriptional networks and chromatin-modifying enzymes. Histone deacetylases, including sirtuins, are critical regulators of chromatin state and have been directly implicated in governing the phenotypic transition between the 'sterile' white state and the mating-competent opaque state in Candida albicans, a common fungal commensal and pathogen of humans. Here, we found that a previously ambiguous role for the sirtuin SIR2 in C. albicans phenotypic switching is likely linked to the genetic background of mutant strains produced in the RM lineage of SC5314. SIR2 mutants in a specific lineage of BWP17 displayed increased frequencies of switching to the opaque state compared to the wild-type. Loss of SIR2 in other SC5314-derived backgrounds, including newly constructed BWP17 sir2Δ/Δ mutants, failed to recapitulate the increased white-opaque switching frequencies observed in the original BWP17 sir2Δ/Δ mutant background. Whole-genome sequencing revealed the presence of multiple imbalanced chromosomes and large loss of heterozygosity tracts that likely interact with SIR2 to increase phenotypic switching in this BWP17 sir2Δ/Δ mutant lineage. These genomic changes are not found in other SC5314-derived sir2Δ/Δ mutants that do not display increased opaque cell formation. Thus, complex karyotypes can emerge during strain construction that modify mutant phenotypes and highlight the importance of validating strain background when interpreting phenotypes.
    Keywords:  Candida; aneuploidy; epigenetics; white opaque switching
  8. Sci Rep. 2024 03 06. 14(1): 5521
      Silent information regulator 1 (SIRT1) is a NAD+-dependent class III deacetylase that plays important roles in the pathogenesis of numerous diseases, positioning it as a prime candidate for therapeutic intervention. Among its modulators, SRT2104 emerges as the most specific small molecule activator of SIRT1, currently advancing into the clinical translation phase. The primary objective of this review is to evaluate the emerging roles of SRT2104, and to explore its potential as a therapeutic agent in various diseases. In the present review, we systematically summarized the findings from an extensive array of literature sources including the progress of its application in disease treatment and its potential molecular mechanisms by reviewing the literature published in databases such as PubMed, Web of Science, and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform. We focuses on the strides made in employing SRT2104 for disease treatment, elucidating its potential molecular underpinnings based on preclinical and clinical research data. The findings reveal that SRT2104, as a potent SIRT1 activator, holds considerable therapeutic potential, particularly in modulating metabolic and longevity-related pathways. This review establishes SRT2104 as a leading SIRT1 activator with significant therapeutic promise.
    Keywords:  Clinical trials; Disease treatment; Preclinical research; SIRT1; SRT2104