Trypanosoma brucei UDP-glucose:glycoprotein glucosyltransferase has unusual substrate specificity and protects the parasite from stress.
ABSTRACT: In this paper, we describe the range of N-linked glycan structures produced by wild-type and glucosidase II null mutant bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei parasites and the creation and characterization of a bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei UDP-glucose:glycoprotein glucosyltransferase null mutant. These analyses highlight peculiarities of the Trypanosoma brucei UDP-glucose:glycoprotein glucosyltransferase, including an unusually wide substrate specificity, ranging from Man(5)GlcNAc(2) to Man(9)GlcNAc(2) glycans, and an unusually high efficiency in vivo, quantitatively glucosylating the Asn263 N-glycan of variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) 221 and 75% of all non-VSG N glycosylation sites. We also show that although Trypanosoma brucei UDP-glucose:glycoprotein glucosyltransferase is not essential for parasite growth at 37 degrees C, it is essential for parasite growth and survival at 40 degrees C. The null mutant was also shown to be hypersensitive to the effects of the N glycosylation inhibitor tunicamycin. Further analysis of bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei under normal conditions and stress conditions suggests that it does not have a classical unfolded protein response triggered by sensing unfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum. Rather, judging by its uniform Grp78/BiP levels, it appears to have an unregulated and constitutively active endoplasmic reticulum protein folding system. We suggest that the latter may be particularly appropriate for this organism, which has an extremely high flux of glycoproteins through its secretory pathway.
Project description:A gene predicted to encode Trypanosoma brucei glucosamine 6-phosphate N-acetyltransferase (TbGNA1; EC 188.8.131.52) was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The recombinant protein was enzymatically active, and its high-resolution crystal structure was obtained at 1.86 Å. Endogenous TbGNA1 protein was localized to the peroxisome-like microbody, the glycosome. A bloodstream-form T. brucei GNA1 conditional null mutant was constructed and shown to be unable to sustain growth in vitro under nonpermissive conditions, demonstrating that there are no metabolic or nutritional routes to UDP-GlcNAc other than via GlcNAc-6-phosphate. Analysis of the protein glycosylation phenotype of the TbGNA1 mutant under nonpermissive conditions revealed that poly-N-acetyllactosamine structures were greatly reduced in the parasite and that the glycosylation profile of the principal parasite surface coat component, the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG), was modified. The significance of results and the potential of TbGNA1 as a novel drug target for African sleeping sickness are discussed.
Project description:Trypanosoma brucei is the causative agent of human African sleeping sickness and the cattle disease nagana. Trypanosoma brucei is dependent on glycoproteins for its survival and infectivity throughout its life cycle. Here we report the functional characterization of TbGT3, a glycosyltransferase expressed in the bloodstream and procyclic form of the parasite. Bloodstream and procyclic form TbGT3 conditional null mutants were created and both exhibited normal growth under permissive and nonpermissive conditions. Under nonpermissive conditions, the normal glycosylation of the major glycoprotein of bloodstream form T. brucei, the variant surface glycoprotein and the absence of major alterations in lectin binding to other glycoproteins suggested that the major function of TbGT3 occurs in the procyclic form of the parasite. Consistent with this, the major surface glycoprotein of the procyclic form, procyclin, exhibited a marked reduction in molecular weight due to changes in glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor side chains. Structural analysis of the mutant procyclin GPI anchors indicated that TbGT3 encodes a UDP-Gal: β-GlcNAc-GPI β1-3 Gal transferase. Despite the alterations in GPI anchor side chains, TbGT3 conditional null mutants remained infectious to tsetse flies under nonpermissive conditions.
Project description:The African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei, is a flagellated pathogenic protozoan that branched early from the eukaryotic lineage. Unusually, it uses RNA polymerase I (Pol I) for mono-telomeric expression of variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) genes in bloodstream-form cells. Many other subtelomeric VSG genes are reversibly repressed, but no repressive DNA sequence has been identified in any trypanosomatid. Here, we show that artificially seeded de novo telomeres repress Pol I-dependent gene expression in mammalian bloodstream and insect life-cycle stages of T. brucei. In a telomeric VSG expression site, repression spreads further along the chromosome and this effect is specific to the bloodstream stage. We also show that de novo telomere extension is telomerase dependent and that the rate of extension correlates with the expression level of the adjacent gene. Our results show constitutive telomeric repression in T. brucei and indicate that an enhanced, developmental stage-specific repression mechanism controls antigenic variation.
Project description:We recently presented a model for site-specific protein N-glycosylation in Trypanosoma brucei whereby the TbSTT3A oligosaccharyltransferase (OST) first selectively transfers biantennary Man(5)GlcNAc(2) from the lipid-linked oligosaccharide (LLO) donor Man(5)GlcNAc(2)-PP-Dol to N-glycosylation sequons in acidic to neutral peptide sequences and TbSTT3B selectively transfers triantennary Man(9)GlcNAc(2) to any remaining sequons. In this paper, we investigate the specificities of the two OSTs for their preferred LLO donors by glycotyping the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) synthesized by bloodstream-form T. brucei TbALG12 null mutants. The TbALG12 gene encodes the ?1-6-mannosyltransferase that converts Man(7)GlcNAc(2)-PP-Dol to Man(8)GlcNAc(2)-PP-Dol. The VSG synthesized by the TbALG12 null mutant in the presence and the absence of ?-mannosidase inhibitors was characterized by electrospray mass spectrometry both intact and as pronase glycopetides. The results show that TbSTT3A is able to transfer Man(7)GlcNAc(2) as well as Man(5)GlcNAc(2) to its preferred acidic glycosylation site at Asn263 and that, in the absence of Man(9)GlcNAc(2)-PP-Dol, TbSTT3B transfers both Man(7)GlcNAc(2) and Man(5)GlcNAc(2) to the remaining site at Asn428, albeit with low efficiency. These data suggest that the preferences of TbSTT3A and TbSTT3B for their LLO donors are based on the c-branch of the Man(9)GlcNAc(2) oligosaccharide, such that the presence of the c-branch prevents recognition and/or transfer by TbSTT3A, whereas the presence of the c-branch enhances recognition and/or transfer by TbSTT3B.
Project description:The protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei is the causative agent of the cattle disease Nagana and human African sleeping sickness. Glycoproteins play key roles in the parasite's survival and infectivity, and the de novo biosyntheses of the sugar nucleotides UDP-galactose (UDP-Gal), UDP-N-acetylglucosamine, and GDP-fucose have been shown to be essential for their growth. The only route to UDP-Gal in T. brucei is through the epimerization of UDP-glucose (UDP-Glc) by UDP-Glc 4'-epimerase. UDP-Glc is also the glucosyl donor for the unfolded glycoprotein glucosyltransferase (UGGT) involved in glycoprotein quality control in the endoplasmic reticulum and is the presumed donor for the synthesis of base J (?-D-glucosylhydroxymethyluracil), a rare deoxynucleotide found in telomere-proximal DNA in the bloodstream form of T. brucei. Considering that UDP-Glc plays such a central role in carbohydrate metabolism, we decided to characterize UDP-Glc biosynthesis in T. brucei. We identified and characterized the parasite UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (TbUGP), responsible for the formation of UDP-Glc from glucose-1-phosphate and UTP, and localized the enzyme to the peroxisome-like glycosome organelles of the parasite. Recombinant TbUGP was shown to be enzymatically active and specific for glucose-1-phosphate. The high-resolution crystal structure was also solved, providing a framework for the design of potential inhibitors against the parasite enzyme.
Project description:The African trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei monoallelically expresses one of more than 1000 Variant Surface Glycoprotein (VSG) genes. The active VSG is transcribed from one of about 15 telomeric VSG expression sites (ESs). It is unclear how monoallelic expression of VSG is controlled, and how inactive VSG ESs are silenced. Here, we show that blocking synthesis of the T. brucei FACT subunit TbSpt16 triggers a G2/early M phase cell cycle arrest in both bloodstream and insect form T. brucei. Segregation of T. brucei minichromosomes in these stalled cells is impaired, implicating FACT in maintenance of centromeres. Strikingly, knock-down of TbSpt16 results in 20- to 23-fold derepression of silent VSG ES promoters in bloodstream form T. brucei, with derepression specific to the G2/M cell cycle stage. In insect form T. brucei TbSpt16 knock-down results in 16- to 25-fold VSG ES derepression. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), TbSpt16 was found to be particularly enriched at the promoter region of silent but not active VSG ESs in bloodstream form T. brucei. The chromatin remodeler FACT is therefore implicated in maintenance of repressed chromatin present at silent VSG ES promoters, but is also essential for chromosome segregation presumably through maintenance of functional centromeres.
Project description:African trypanosomes (Trypanosoma) are vector-borne haemoparasites that survive in the vertebrate bloodstream through antigenic variation of their Variant Surface Glycoprotein (VSG). Recombination, or rather segmented gene conversion, is fundamental in Trypanosoma brucei for both VSG gene switching and for generating antigenic diversity during infections. Trypanosoma vivax is a related, livestock pathogen whose VSG lack structures that facilitate gene conversion in T. brucei and mechanisms underlying its antigenic diversity are poorly understood. Here we show that species-wide VSG repertoire is broadly conserved across diverse T. vivax clinical strains and has limited antigenic repertoire. We use variant antigen profiling, coalescent approaches and experimental infections to show that recombination plays little role in diversifying T. vivax VSG sequences. These results have immediate consequences for both the current mechanistic model of antigenic variation in African trypanosomes and species differences in virulence and transmission, requiring reconsideration of the wider epidemiology of animal African trypanosomiasis.
Project description:The African sleeping sickness parasite Trypanosoma brucei evades the host immune system through antigenic variation of its variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) coat. Although the T. brucei genome contains ?1500 VSGs, only one VSG is expressed at a time from one of about 15 subtelomeric VSG expression sites (ESs). For antigenic variation to work, not only must the vast VSG repertoire be kept silent in a genome that is mainly constitutively transcribed, but the frequency of VSG switching must be strictly controlled. Recently it has become clear that chromatin plays a key role in silencing inactive ESs, thereby ensuring monoallelic expression of VSG. We investigated the role of the linker histone H1 in chromatin organization and ES regulation in T. brucei. T. brucei histone H1 proteins have a different domain structure to H1 proteins in higher eukaryotes. However, we show that they play a key role in the maintenance of higher order chromatin structure in bloodstream form T. brucei as visualised by electron microscopy. In addition, depletion of histone H1 results in chromatin becoming generally more accessible to endonucleases in bloodstream but not in insect form T. brucei. The effect on chromatin following H1 knock-down in bloodstream form T. brucei is particularly evident at transcriptionally silent ES promoters, leading to 6-8 fold derepression of these promoters. T. brucei histone H1 therefore appears to be important for the maintenance of repressed chromatin in bloodstream form T. brucei. In particular H1 plays a role in downregulating silent ESs, arguing that H1-mediated chromatin functions in antigenic variation in T. brucei.
Project description:Trypanosoma brucei expresses a diverse repertoire of N-glycans, ranging from oligomannose and paucimannose structures to exceptionally large complex N-glycans. Despite the presence of the latter, no obvious homologues of known ?1-4-galactosyltransferase or ?1-2- or ?1-6-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase genes have been found in the parasite genome. However, we previously reported a family of putative UDP-sugar-dependent glycosyltransferases with similarity to the mammalian ?1-3-glycosyltransferase family. Here we characterize one of these genes, TbGT11, and show that it encodes a Golgi apparatus resident UDP-GlcNAc:?3-D-mannoside ?1-2-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase I activity (TbGnTI). The bloodstream-form TbGT11 null mutant exhibited significantly modified protein N-glycans but normal growth in vitro and infectivity to rodents. In contrast to multicellular organisms, where the GnTI reaction is essential for biosynthesis of both complex and hybrid N-glycans, T. brucei TbGT11 null mutants expressed atypical "pseudohybrid" glycans, indicating that TbGnTII activity is not dependent on prior TbGnTI action. Using a functional in vitro assay, we showed that TbGnTI transfers UDP-GlcNAc to biantennary Man3GlcNAc2, but not to triantennary Man5GlcNAc2, which is the preferred substrate for metazoan GnTIs. Sequence alignment reveals that the T. brucei enzyme is far removed from the metazoan GnTI family and suggests that the parasite has adapted the ?3-glycosyltransferase family to catalyze ?1-2 linkages.
Project description:African trypanosomes regulate transcription differently from other eukaryotes. Most of the trypanosome genome is constitutively transcribed by RNA polymerase II (Pol II) as large polycistronic transcription units while the genes encoding the major surface proteins are transcribed by RNA polymerase I (Pol I). In bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei, the gene encoding the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) coat is expressed in a monoallelic fashion from one of about 15 VSG bloodstream form expression sites (BESs). Little is known about the chromatin structure of the trypanosome genome, and the chromatin state of active versus silent VSG BESs remains controversial. Here, we determined histone H3 occupancy within the genome of T. brucei, focusing on active versus silent VSG BESs in the bloodstream form. We found that histone H3 was most enriched in the nontranscribed 50-bp and 177-bp repeats and relatively depleted in Pol I, II, and III transcription units, with particular depletion over promoter regions. Using two isogenic T. brucei lines containing marker genes in different VSG BESs, we determined that histone H3 is 11- to 40-fold depleted from active VSG BESs compared with silent VSG BESs. Quantitative PCR analysis of fractionated micrococcal nuclease-digested chromatin revealed that the active VSG BES is depleted of nucleosomes. Therefore, in contrast to earlier views, nucleosome positioning appears to be involved in the monoalleleic control of VSG BESs in T. brucei. This may provide a level of epigenetic regulation enabling bloodstream form trypanosomes to efficiently pass on the transcriptional state of active and silent BESs to daughter cells.