A Mitogen-activated protein kinase controls differentiation of bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma brucei.
ABSTRACT: African trypanosomes undergo differentiation in order to adapt to the mammalian host and the tsetse fly vector. To characterize the role of a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase homologue, TbMAPK5, in the differentiation of Trypanosoma brucei, we constructed a knockout in procyclic (insect) forms from a differentiation-competent (pleomorphic) stock. Two independent knockout clones proliferated normally in culture and were not essential for other life cycle stages in the fly. They were also able to infect immunosuppressed mice, but the peak parasitemia was 16-fold lower than that of the wild type. Differentiation of the proliferating long slender to the nonproliferating short stumpy bloodstream form is triggered by an autocrine factor, stumpy induction factor (SIF). The knockout differentiated prematurely in mice and in culture, suggestive of increased sensitivity to SIF. In contrast, a null mutant of a cell line refractory to SIF was able to proliferate normally. The differentiation phenotype was partially rescued by complementation with wild-type TbMAPK5 but exacerbated by introduction of a nonactivatable mutant form. Our results indicate a regulatory function for TbMAPK5 in the differentiation of bloodstream forms of T. brucei that might be exploitable as a target for chemotherapy against human sleeping sickness.
Project description:Trypanosome parasites control their virulence and spread by using quorum sensing (QS) to generate transmissible "stumpy forms" in their host bloodstream. However, the QS signal "stumpy induction factor" (SIF) and its reception mechanism are unknown. Although trypanosomes lack G protein-coupled receptor signaling, we have identified a surface GPR89-family protein that regulates stumpy formation. TbGPR89 is expressed on bloodstream "slender form" trypanosomes, which receive the SIF signal, and when ectopically expressed, TbGPR89 drives stumpy formation in a SIF-pathway-dependent process. Structural modeling of TbGPR89 predicts unexpected similarity to oligopeptide transporters (POT), and when expressed in bacteria, TbGPR89 transports oligopeptides. Conversely, expression of an E. coli POT in trypanosomes drives parasite differentiation, and oligopeptides promote stumpy formation in vitro. Furthermore, the expression of secreted trypanosome oligopeptidases generates a paracrine signal that accelerates stumpy formation in vivo. Peptidase-generated oligopeptide QS signals being received through TbGPR89 provides a mechanism for both trypanosome SIF production and reception.
Project description:Differentiation in African trypanosomes (Trypanosoma brucei) entails passage between a mammalian host, where parasites exist as a proliferative slender form or a G0-arrested stumpy form, and the tsetse fly. Stumpy forms arise at the peak of each parasitaemia and are committed to differentiation to procyclic forms that inhabit the tsetse midgut. We have identified a protein tyrosine phosphatase (TbPTP1) that inhibits trypanosome differentiation. Consistent with a tyrosine phosphatase, recombinant TbPTP1 exhibits the anticipated substrate and inhibitor profile, and its activity is impaired by reversible oxidation. TbPTP1 inactivation in monomorphic bloodstream trypanosomes by RNA interference or pharmacological inhibition triggers spontaneous differentiation to procyclic forms in a subset of committed cells. Consistent with this observation, homogeneous populations of stumpy forms synchronously differentiate to procyclic forms when tyrosine phosphatase activity is inhibited. Our data invoke a new model for trypanosome development in which differentiation to procyclic forms is prevented in the bloodstream by tyrosine dephosphorylation. It may be possible to use PTP1B inhibitors to block trypanosomatid transmission.
Project description:Immune evasion in African trypanosomes is principally mediated by antigenic variation, but rapid internalization of surface-bound immune factors may contribute to survival. Endocytosis is upregulated approximately 10-fold in bloodstream compared to procyclic forms, and surface coat remodeling accompanies transition between these life stages. Here we examined expression of endocytosis markers in tsetse fly stages in vivo and monitored modulation during transition from bloodstream to procyclic forms in vitro. Among bloodstream stages nonproliferative stumpy forms have endocytic activity similar to that seen with rapidly dividing slender forms, while differentiation of stumpy forms to procyclic forms is accompanied by rapid down-regulation of Rab11 and clathrin, suggesting that modulation of endocytic and recycling systems accompanies this differentiation event. Significantly, rapid down-regulation of endocytic markers occurs upon entering the insect midgut and expression of Rab11 and clathrin remains low throughout subsequent development, which suggests that high endocytic activity is not required for remodeling the parasite surface or for survival within the fly. However, salivary gland metacyclic forms dramatically increase expression of clathrin and Rab11, indicating that emergence of mammalian infective forms is coupled to reacquisition of a high-activity endocytic-recycling system. These data suggest that high-level endocytosis in Trypanosoma brucei is an adaptation required for viability in the mammalian host.
Project description:Trypanosoma brucei, causing African sleeping-sickness, exploits quorum-sensing (QS) to generate the 'stumpy forms' necessary for the parasite's transmission to tsetse-flies. These quiescent cells are generated by differentiation in the bloodstream from proliferative slender forms. Using genome-wide RNAi selection we screened for repressors of transmission stage-enriched mRNAs in slender forms, using the stumpy-elevated ESAG9 transcript as a model. This identified REG9.1, whose RNAi-silencing alleviated ESAG9 repression in slender forms and tsetse-midgut procyclic forms. Interestingly, trypanosome surface protein Family 5 and Family 7 mRNAs were also elevated, which, like ESAG9, are T. brucei specific and stumpy-enriched. We suggest these contribute to the distinct transmission biology and vector tropism of T. brucei from other African trypanosome species. As well as surface family regulation, REG9.1-depletion generated QS-independent development to stumpy forms in vivo, whereas REG9.1 overexpression in bloodstream forms potentiated spontaneous differentiation to procyclic forms in the absence of an external signal. Combined, this identifies REG9.1 as a regulator of developmental cell fate, controlling the expression of Trypanosoma brucei-specific molecules elevated during transmission.
Project description:The gene expression of Trypanosoma brucei has been examined extensively in the blood of mammalian hosts and in forms found in the midgut of its arthropod vector, the tsetse fly. However, trypanosomes also undergo development within the mammalian bloodstream as they progress from morphologically 'slender forms' to transmissible 'stumpy forms' through morphological intermediates. This transition is temporally progressive within the first wave of parasitaemia such that gene expression can be monitored in relatively pure slender and stumpy populations as well as during the progression between these extremes. The development also represents the progression of cells from translationally active forms adapted for proliferation in the host to translationally quiescent forms, adapted for transmission. We have used metabolic labelling to quantitate translational activity in slender forms, stumpy forms and in forms undergoing early differentiation to procyclic forms in vitro. Thereafter we have examined the cohort of total mRNAs that are enriched throughout development in the mammalian bloodstream (slender, intermediate and stumpy forms), irrespective of strain, revealing those that exhibit consistent developmental regulation rather than sample specific changes. Transcripts that cosediment with polysomes in stumpy forms and slender forms have also been enriched to identify transcripts that escape translational repression prior to transmission. Combined, the expression and polysomal association of transcripts as trypanosomes undergo development in the mammalian bloodstream have been defined, providing a resource for trypanosome researchers. This facilitates the identification of those that undergo developmental regulation in the bloodstream and therefore those likely to have a role in the survival and capacity for transmission of stumpy forms.
Project description:The sleeping sickness parasite Trypanosoma brucei has a complex life cycle, alternating between a mammalian host and the tsetse fly vector. A tightly controlled developmental programme ensures parasite transmission between hosts as well as survival within them and involves strict regulation of mitochondrial activities. In the glucose-rich bloodstream, the replicative 'slender' stage is thought to produce ATP exclusively via glycolysis and uses the mitochondrial F1FO-ATP synthase as an ATP hydrolysis-driven proton pump to generate the mitochondrial membrane potential (??m). The 'procyclic' stage in the glucose-poor tsetse midgut depends on mitochondrial catabolism of amino acids for energy production, which involves oxidative phosphorylation with ATP production via the F1FO-ATP synthase. Both modes of the F1FO enzyme critically depend on FO subunit a, which is encoded in the parasite's mitochondrial DNA (kinetoplast or kDNA). Comparatively little is known about mitochondrial function and the role of kDNA in non-replicative 'stumpy' bloodstream forms, a developmental stage essential for disease transmission. Here we show that the L262P mutation in the nuclear-encoded F1 subunit ? that permits survival of 'slender' bloodstream forms lacking kDNA ('akinetoplastic' forms), via FO-independent generation of ??m, also permits their differentiation into stumpy forms. However, these akinetoplastic stumpy cells lack a ??m and have a reduced lifespan in vitro and in mice, which significantly alters the within-host dynamics of the parasite. We further show that generation of ??m in stumpy parasites and their ability to use ?-ketoglutarate to sustain viability depend on F1-ATPase activity. Surprisingly, however, loss of ??m does not reduce stumpy life span. We conclude that the L262P ? subunit mutation does not enable FO-independent generation of ??m in stumpy cells, most likely as a consequence of mitochondrial ATP production in these cells. In addition, kDNA-encoded genes other than FO subunit a are important for stumpy form viability.
Project description:Trypanosoma brucei live in mammals as bloodstream forms and in the Tsetse midgut as procyclic forms. Differentiation from one form to the other proceeds via a growth-arrested stumpy form with low messenger RNA (mRNA) content and translation. The parasites have six eIF4Es and five eIF4Gs. EIF4E1 pairs with the mRNA-binding protein 4EIP but not with any EIF4G. EIF4E1 and 4EIP each inhibit expression when tethered to a reporter mRNA, but while tethered EIF4E1 suppresses only when 4EIP is present, suppression by tethered 4EIP does not require the interaction with EIF4E1. In growing bloodstream forms, 4EIP is preferentially associated with unstable mRNAs. Bloodstream- or procyclic-form trypanosomes lacking 4EIP have only a marginal growth disadvantage. Bloodstream forms without 4EIP are, however, defective in translation suppression during stumpy-form differentiation and cannot subsequently convert to growing procyclic forms. Intriguingly, the differentiation defect can be complemented by a truncated 4EIP that does not interact with EIF4E1. In contrast, bloodstream forms lacking EIF4E1 have a growth defect, stumpy formation seems normal, but they appear unable to grow as procyclic forms. We suggest that 4EIP and EIF4E1 fine-tune mRNA levels in growing cells, and that 4EIP contributes to translation suppression during differentiation to the stumpy form.
Project description:The protozoan parasites Trypanosoma brucei spp. are responsible for important human and livestock diseases in sub Saharan Africa. In the mammalian blood, two developmental forms of the parasite exist: proliferative ?slender? forms and transmissible ?stumpy? forms that are quiescent, awaiting uptake in a tsetse fly bloodmeal. The slender to stumpy differentiation is a density-dependent response that resembles quorum sensing in microbial systems and is crucial for the parasite life cycle, ensuring both infection chronicity and disease transmission. The response is triggered by an elusive ?stumpy induction factor? (SIF) whose intracellular signaling pathway is also completely uncharacterized. Laboratory-adapted (monomorphic) trypanosome strains cannot respond to SIF, but can generate forms with stumpy characteristics when exposed to cell permeable cAMP and AMP analogues. Exploiting this, we have used a genome-wide RNAi library screen to identify the signaling components driving stumpy formation. In separate screens, monomorphic parasites were exposed to cell permeable cAMP or AMP analogues to select cells that remained proliferative and so were unresponsive to these signals. Genome-wide ion torrent-based RNA interference Target sequencing (RIT-seq) identified a cohort of genes implicated in all steps of the signaling pathway, from purine metabolism, through signal transducers (kinases, phosphatases) to gene expression regulators. The identified genes at each step have been validated in cells naturally capable of stumpy formation, confirming their role in SIF-induced density sensing and cellular quiescence. RNA was isolated from AnTat1.1 cells grown in mice with or without doxycycline. RBP7 (Tb927.10.12100) RNAi lines were grown in mice with or without doxycycline. Since the RBP7 RNAi is leaky (six independent cell lines were analysed and all were significantly leaky), transcripts that showed elevated or reduced abundance in both RNAi induced and uninduced populations were identified in comparison to the AnTat1.1 control. A similar approach was adopted for the RBP7 over-expressing lines.
Project description:Trypanosoma brucei adapts to changing environments as it cycles through arrested and proliferating stages in the human and tsetse fly hosts. Changes in protein tyrosine phosphorylation of several proteins, including NOPP44/46, accompany T. brucei development. Moreover, inactivation of T. brucei protein-tyrosine phosphatase 1 (TbPTP1) triggers differentiation of bloodstream stumpy forms into tsetse procyclic forms through unknown downstream effects. Here, we link these events by showing that NOPP44/46 is a major substrate of TbPTP1. TbPTP1 substrate-trapping mutants selectively enrich NOPP44/46 from procyclic stage cell lysates, and TbPTP1 efficiently and selectively dephosphorylates NOPP44/46 in vitro. To provide insights into the mechanism of NOPP44/46 recognition, we determined the crystal structure of TbPTP1. The TbPTP1 structure, the first of a kinetoplastid protein-tyrosine phosphatase (PTP), emphasizes the conservation of the PTP fold, extending to one of the most diverged eukaryotes. The structure reveals surfaces that may mediate substrate specificity and affords a template for the design of selective inhibitors to interfere with T. brucei transmission.
Project description:The protozoan parasites Trypanosoma brucei spp. cause important human and livestock diseases in sub-Saharan Africa. In mammalian blood, two developmental forms of the parasite exist: proliferative 'slender' forms and arrested 'stumpy' forms that are responsible for transmission to tsetse flies. The slender to stumpy differentiation is a density-dependent response that resembles quorum sensing in microbial systems and is crucial for the parasite life cycle, ensuring both infection chronicity and disease transmission. This response is triggered by an elusive 'stumpy induction factor' (SIF) whose intracellular signalling pathway is also uncharacterized. Laboratory-adapted (monomorphic) trypanosome strains respond inefficiently to SIF but can generate forms with stumpy characteristics when exposed to cell-permeable cAMP and AMP analogues. Exploiting this, we have used a genome-wide RNA interference library screen to identify the signalling components driving stumpy formation. In separate screens, monomorphic parasites were exposed to 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-cAMP (pCPT-cAMP) or 8-pCPT-2'-O-methyl-5'-AMP to select cells that were unresponsive to these signals and hence remained proliferative. Genome-wide Ion Torrent based RNAi target sequencing identified cohorts of genes implicated in each step of the signalling pathway, from purine metabolism, through signal transducers (kinases, phosphatases) to gene expression regulators. Genes at each step were independently validated in cells naturally capable of stumpy formation, confirming their role in density sensing in vivo. The putative RNA-binding protein, RBP7, was required for normal quorum sensing and promoted cell-cycle arrest and transmission competence when overexpressed. This study reveals that quorum sensing signalling in trypanosomes shares similarities to fundamental quiescence pathways in eukaryotic cells, its components providing targets for quorum-sensing interference-based therapeutics.