Project description:Trypanosomes are a globally important group of parasites which together kill and debilitate millions of people world-wide. In trypanosomes, genes do not have individual promoters, rather ~10000 genes share ~200 promoters and all gene expression is thus regulated post-transcriptionally. While effector proteins which modulate the expression of many genes have been described, the mechanisms by which trypanosomes sense changes in their environment and manifest changes in gene expression remain elusive. This study demonstrates that trypanosomes sense changes in their environment through temperature sensitive RNA secondary structure. We show that the majority of observed mRNA abundance changes which distinguish insect adapted and bloodstream adapted life cycle stages can be explained through change in temperature alone.
Project description:Topoisomerase-II accumulates at centromeres during prometaphase, where it resolves the DNA catenations that represent the last link between sister chromatids. Previously, using approaches including etoposide-mediated topoisomerase-II cleavage, we mapped centromeric domains in trypanosomes, early branching eukaryotes in which chromosome segregation is poorly understood. Here, we show that in bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei, RNAi-mediated depletion of topoisomerase-II?, but not topoisomerase-II?, results in the abolition of centromere-localized activity and is lethal. Both phenotypes can be rescued by expression of the corresponding enzyme from T. cruzi. Therefore, processes which govern centromere-specific topoisomerase-II accumulation/activation have been functionally conserved within trypanosomes, despite the long evolutionary separation of these species and differences in centromeric DNA organization. The variable carboxyl terminal region of topoisomerase-II has a major role in regulating biological function. We therefore generated T. brucei lines expressing T. cruzi topoisomerase-II truncated at the carboxyl terminus and examined activity at centromeres after the RNAi-mediated depletion of the endogenous enzyme. A region necessary for nuclear localization was delineated to six residues. In other organisms, sumoylation of topoisomerase-II has been shown to be necessary for regulated chromosome segregation. Evidence that we present here suggests that sumoylation of the T. brucei enzyme is not required for centromere-specific cleavage activity.
Project description:PI (phosphatidylinositol) is a ubiquitous eukaryotic phospholipid which serves as a precursor for messenger molecules and GPI (glycosylphosphatidylinositol) anchors. PI is synthesized either de novo or by head group exchange by a PIS (PI synthase). The synthesis of GPI anchors has previously been validated both genetically and chemically as a drug target in Trypanosoma brucei, the causative parasite of African sleeping sickness. However, nothing is known about the synthesis of PI in this organism. Database mining revealed a putative TbPIS gene in the T. brucei genome and by recombinant expression and characterization it was shown to encode a catalytically active PIS, with a high specificity for myo-inositol. Immunofluorescence revealed that in T. brucei, PIS is found in both the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi. We created a conditional double knockout of TbPIS in the bloodstream form of T. brucei, which when grown under non-permissive conditions, clearly showed that TbPIS is an essential gene. In vivo labelling of these conditional double knockout cells confirmed this result, showing a decrease in the amount of PI formed by the cells when grown under non-permissive conditions. Furthermore, quantitative and qualitative analysis by GLC-MS and ESI-MS/MS (electrospray ionization MS/MS) respectively showed a significant decrease (70%) in cellular PI, which appears to affect all major PI species equally. A consequence of this fall in PI level is a knock-on reduction in GPI biosynthesis which is essential for the parasite's survival. The results presented here show that PI synthesis is essential for bloodstream form T. brucei, and to our knowledge this is the first report of the dependence on PI synthesis of a protozoan parasite by genetic validation.
Project description:The biological membranes of Trypanosoma brucei contain a complex array of phospholipids that are synthesized de novo from precursors obtained either directly from the host, or as catabolised endocytosed lipids. This paper describes the use of nanoflow electrospray tandem mass spectrometry and high resolution mass spectrometry in both positive and negative ion modes, allowing the identification of approximately 500 individual molecular phospholipids species from total lipid extracts of cultured bloodstream and procyclic form T. brucei. Various molecular species of all of the major subclasses of glycerophospholipids were identified including phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidylinositol as well as phosphatidic acid, phosphatidylglycerol and cardolipin, and the sphingolipids sphingomyelin, inositol phosphoceramide and ethanolamine phosphoceramide. The lipidomic data obtained in this study will aid future biochemical phenotyping of either genetically or chemically manipulated commonly used bloodstream and procyclic strains of Trypanosoma brucei. Hopefully this will allow a greater understanding of the bizarre world of lipids in this important human pathogen.
Project description:Bloodstream form African trypanosomes are thought to rely exclusively upon glycolysis, using glucose as a substrate, for ATP production. Indeed, the pathway has long been considered a potential therapeutic target to tackle the devastating and neglected tropical diseases caused by these parasites. However, plasma membrane glucose and glycerol transporters are both expressed by trypanosomes and these parasites can infiltrate tissues that contain glycerol. Here, we show that bloodstream form trypanosomes can use glycerol for gluconeogenesis and for ATP production, particularly when deprived of glucose following hexose transporter depletion. We demonstrate that Trypanosoma brucei hexose transporters 1 and 2 (THT1 and THT2) are localized to the plasma membrane and that knockdown of THT1 expression leads to a growth defect that is more severe when THT2 is also knocked down. These data are consistent with THT1 and THT2 being the primary routes of glucose supply for the production of ATP by glycolysis. However, supplementation of the growth medium with glycerol substantially rescued the growth defect caused by THT1 and THT2 knockdown. Metabolomic analyses with heavy-isotope labelled glycerol demonstrated that trypanosomes take up glycerol and use it to synthesize intermediates of gluconeogenesis, including fructose 1,6-bisphosphate and hexose 6-phosphates, which feed the pentose phosphate pathway and variant surface glycoprotein biosynthesis. We used Cas9-mediated gene knockout to demonstrate a gluconeogenesis-specific, but fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase (Tb927.9.8720)-independent activity, converting fructose 1,6-bisphosphate into fructose 6-phosphate. In addition, we observed increased flux through the tricarboxylic acid cycle and the succinate shunt. Thus, contrary to prior thinking, gluconeogenesis can operate in bloodstream form T. brucei. This pathway, using glycerol as a physiological substrate, may be required in mammalian host tissues.
Project description:Ribose 5-phosphate isomerase is an enzyme involved in the non-oxidative branch of the pentose phosphate pathway, and catalyzes the inter-conversion of D-ribose 5-phosphate and D-ribulose 5-phosphate. Trypanosomatids, including the agent of African sleeping sickness namely Trypanosoma brucei, have a type B ribose-5-phosphate isomerase. This enzyme is absent from humans, which have a structurally unrelated ribose 5-phosphate isomerase type A, and therefore has been proposed as an attractive drug target waiting further characterization. In this study, Trypanosoma brucei ribose 5-phosphate isomerase B showed in vitro isomerase activity. RNAi against this enzyme reduced parasites' in vitro growth, and more importantly, bloodstream forms infectivity. Mice infected with induced RNAi clones exhibited lower parasitaemia and a prolonged survival compared to control mice. Phenotypic reversion was achieved by complementing induced RNAi clones with an ectopic copy of Trypanosoma cruzi gene. Our results present the first functional characterization of Trypanosoma brucei ribose 5-phosphate isomerase B, and show the relevance of an enzyme belonging to the non-oxidative branch of the pentose phosphate pathway in the context of Trypanosoma brucei infection.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Most mitochondrial mRNAs in Trypanosoma brucei require RNA editing for maturation and translation. The edited RNAs primarily encode proteins of the oxidative phosphorylation system. These parasites undergo extensive changes in energy metabolism between the insect and bloodstream stages which are mirrored by alterations in RNA editing. Two U-specific exonucleases, KREX1 and KREX2, are both present in protein complexes (editosomes) that catalyze RNA editing but the relative roles of each protein are not known. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:The requirement for KREX2 for RNA editing in vivo was assessed in both procyclic (insect) and bloodstream form parasites by methods that use homologous recombination for gene elimination. These studies resulted in null mutant cells in which both alleles were eliminated. The viability of these cells demonstrates that KREX2 is not essential in either life cycle stage, despite certain defects in RNA editing in vivo. Furthermore, editosomes isolated from KREX2 null cells require KREX1 for in vitro U-specific exonuclease activity. CONCLUSIONS:KREX2 is a U-specific exonuclease that is dispensable for RNA editing in vivo in T. brucei BFs and PFs. This result suggests that the U deletion activity, which is required for RNA editing, is primarily mediated in vivo by KREX1 which is normally found associated with only one type of editosome. The retention of the KREX2 gene implies a non-essential role or a role that is essential in other life cycle stages or conditions.
Project description:Induction of RNA interference targeted against casein kinase 1 isoform 2 (TbCK1.2, Tb927.5.800) in bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei in vitro results in rapid cessation of growth, gross morphological changes, multinucleation and ultimately cell death. A null mutant of the highly homologous casein kinase 1 isoform 1 (Tb927.5.790) in bloodstream form T. brucei displays no growth or morphological phenotype in vitro. A truncated form of TbCK1.2 expressed in Escherichia coli as a GST fusion produces catalytically active recombinant protein, facilitating screening for small molecule inhibitors. These data show that TbCK1.2 is an attractive target for anti-trypanosomal drug discovery.