Phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate, an essential lipid in Plasmodium, localizes to the food vacuole membrane and the apicoplast.
ABSTRACT: Phosphoinositides are important regulators of diverse cellular functions, and phosphatidylinositol 3-monophosphate (PI3P) is a key element in vesicular trafficking processes. During its intraerythrocytic development, the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum establishes a sophisticated but poorly characterized protein and lipid trafficking system. Here we established the detailed phosphoinositide profile of P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes and found abundant amounts of PI3P, while phosphatidylinositol 3,5-bisphosphate was not detected. PI3P production was parasite dependent, sensitive to a phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3-kinase) inhibitor, and predominant in late parasite stages. The Plasmodium genome encodes a class III PI3-kinase of unusual size, containing large insertions and several repetitive sequence motifs. The gene could not be deleted in Plasmodium berghei, and in vitro growth of P. falciparum was sensitive to a PI3-kinase inhibitor, indicating that PI3-kinase is essential in Plasmodium blood stages. For intraparasitic PI3P localization, transgenic P. falciparum that expressed a PI3P-specific fluorescent probe was generated. Fluorescence was associated mainly with the membrane of the food vacuole and with the apicoplast, a four-membrane bounded plastid-like organelle derived from an ancestral secondary endosymbiosis event. Electron microscopy analysis confirmed these findings and revealed, in addition, the presence of PI3P-positive single-membrane vesicles. We hypothesize that these vesicles might be involved in transport processes, likely of proteins and lipids, toward the essential and peculiar parasite compartment, which is the apicoplast. The fact that PI3P metabolism and function in Plasmodium appear to be substantially different from those in its human host could offer new possibilities for antimalarial chemotherapy.
Project description:Apicomplexan parasites cause devastating diseases including malaria and toxoplasmosis. They harbour a plastid-like, non-photosynthetic organelle of algal origin, the apicoplast, which fulfils critical functions for parasite survival. Because of its essential and original metabolic pathways, the apicoplast has become a target for the development of new anti-apicomplexan drugs. Here we show that the lipid phosphatidylinositol 3-monophosphate (PI3P) is involved in apicoplast biogenesis in Toxoplasma gondii. In yeast and mammalian cells, PI3P is concentrated on early endosomes and regulates trafficking of endosomal compartments. Imaging of PI3P in T. gondii showed that the lipid was associated with the apicoplast and apicoplast protein-shuttling vesicles. Interference with regular PI3P function by over-expression of a PI3P specific binding module in the parasite led to the accumulation of vesicles containing apicoplast peripheral membrane proteins around the apicoplast and, ultimately, to the loss of the organelle. Accordingly, inhibition of the PI3P-synthesising kinase interfered with apicoplast biogenesis. These findings point to an unexpected implication for this ubiquitous lipid and open new perspectives on how nuclear encoded proteins traffic to the apicoplast. This study also highlights the possibility of developing specific pharmacological inhibitors of the parasite PI3-kinase as novel anti-apicomplexan drugs.
Project description:The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum harbors a relict, nonphotosynthetic plastid of algal origin termed the apicoplast. Although considerable progress has been made in defining the metabolic functions of the apicoplast, information on the composition and biogenesis of the four delimiting membranes of this organelle is limited. Here, we report an efficient method for preparing highly purified apicoplasts from red blood cell parasite stages and the comprehensive lipidomic analysis of this organelle. Apicoplasts were prepared from transgenic parasites expressing an epitope-tagged triosephosphate transporter and immunopurified on magnetic beads. Gas and liquid chromatography MS analyses of isolated apicoplast lipids indicated significant differences compared with total parasite lipids. In particular, apicoplasts were highly enriched in phosphatidylinositol, consistent with a suggested role for phosphoinositides in targeting membrane vesicles to apicoplasts. Apicoplast phosphatidylinositol and other phospholipids were also enriched in saturated fatty acids, which could reflect limited acyl exchange with other membrane phospholipids and/or a requirement for specific physical properties. Lipids atypical for plastids (sphingomyelins, ceramides, and cholesterol) were detected in apicoplasts. The presence of cholesterol in apicoplast membranes was supported by filipin staining of isolated apicoplasts. Galactoglycerolipids, dominant in plant and algal plastids, were not detected in P. falciparum apicoplasts, suggesting that these glycolipids are a hallmark of photosynthetic plastids and were lost when these organisms assumed a parasitic lifestyle. Apicoplasts thus contain an atypical melange of lipids scavenged from the human host alongside lipids remodeled by the parasite cytoplasm, and stable isotope labeling shows some apicoplast lipids are generated de novo by the organelle itself.
Project description:Artemisinins are the cornerstone of anti-malarial drugs. Emergence and spread of resistance to them raises risk of wiping out recent gains achieved in reducing worldwide malaria burden and threatens future malaria control and elimination on a global level. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed parasite genetic loci associated with artemisinin resistance. However, there is no consensus on biochemical targets of artemisinin. Whether and how these targets interact with genes identified by GWAS, remains unknown. Here we provide biochemical and cellular evidence that artemisinins are potent inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PfPI3K), revealing an unexpected mechanism of action. In resistant clinical strains, increased PfPI3K was associated with the C580Y mutation in P. falciparum Kelch13 (PfKelch13), a primary marker of artemisinin resistance. Polyubiquitination of PfPI3K and its binding to PfKelch13 were reduced by the PfKelch13 mutation, which limited proteolysis of PfPI3K and thus increased levels of the kinase, as well as its lipid product phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PI3P). We find PI3P levels to be predictive of artemisinin resistance in both clinical and engineered laboratory parasites as well as across non-isogenic strains. Elevated PI3P induced artemisinin resistance in absence of PfKelch13 mutations, but remained responsive to regulation by PfKelch13. Evidence is presented for PI3P-dependent signalling in which transgenic expression of an additional kinase confers resistance. Together these data present PI3P as the key mediator of artemisinin resistance and the sole PfPI3K as an important target for malaria elimination.
Project description:Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinins, the most potent and fastest acting anti-malarials, threatens malaria elimination strategies. Artemisinin resistance is due to mutation of the PfK13 propeller domain and involves an unconventional mechanism based on a quiescence state leading to parasite recrudescence as soon as drug pressure is removed. The enhanced P. falciparum quiescence capacity of artemisinin-resistant parasites results from an increased ability to manage oxidative damage and an altered cell cycle gene regulation within a complex network involving the unfolded protein response, the PI3K/PI3P/AKT pathway, the PfPK4/eIF2? cascade and yet unidentified transcription factor(s), with minimal energetic requirements and fatty acid metabolism maintained in the mitochondrion and apicoplast. The detailed study of these mechanisms offers a way forward for identifying future intervention targets to fend off established artemisinin resistance.
Project description:Artemisinin resistance threatens worldwide malaria control and elimination. Elevation of phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PI3P) can induce resistance in blood stages of Plasmodium falciparum The parasite unfolded protein response (UPR) has also been implicated as a proteostatic mechanism that may diminish artemisinin-induced toxic proteopathy. How PI3P acts and its connection to the UPR remain unknown, although both are conferred by mutation in P falciparum Kelch13 (K13), the marker of artemisinin resistance. Here we used cryoimmunoelectron microscopy to show that K13 concentrates at PI3P tubules/vesicles of the parasite's endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in infected red cells. K13 colocalizes and copurifies with the major virulence adhesin PfEMP1. The PfEMP1-K13 proteome is comprehensively enriched in multiple proteostasis systems of protein export, quality control, and folding in the ER and cytoplasm and UPR. Synthetic elevation of PI3P that induces resistance in absence of K13 mutation also yields signatures of proteostasis and clinical resistance. These findings imply a key role for PI3P-vesicle amplification as a mechanism of resistance of infected red cells. As validation, the major resistance mutation K13C580Y quantitatively increased PI3P tubules/vesicles, exporting them throughout the parasite and the red cell. Chemical inhibitors and fluorescence microscopy showed that alterations in PfEMP1 export to the red cell and cytoadherence of infected cells to a host endothelial receptor are features of multiple K13 mutants. Together these data suggest that amplified PI3P vesicles disseminate widespread proteostatic capacity that may neutralize artemisinins toxic proteopathy and implicate a role for the host red cell in artemisinin resistance. The mechanistic insights generated will have an impact on malaria drug development.
Project description:The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and related apicomplexan pathogens contain an essential plastid organelle, the apicoplast, which is a key anti-parasitic target. Derived from secondary endosymbiosis, the apicoplast depends on novel, but largely cryptic, mechanisms for protein/lipid import and organelle inheritance during parasite replication. These critical biogenesis pathways present untapped opportunities to discover new parasite-specific drug targets. We used an innovative screen to identify actinonin as having a novel mechanism-of-action inhibiting apicoplast biogenesis. Resistant mutation, chemical-genetic interaction, and biochemical inhibition demonstrate that the unexpected target of actinonin in P. falciparum and Toxoplasma gondii is FtsH1, a homolog of a bacterial membrane AAA+ metalloprotease. PfFtsH1 is the first novel factor required for apicoplast biogenesis identified in a phenotypic screen. Our findings demonstrate that FtsH1 is a novel and, importantly, druggable antimalarial target. Development of FtsH1 inhibitors will have significant advantages with improved drug kinetics and multistage efficacy against multiple human parasites.
Project description:The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum apicoplast indirect aminoacylation pathway utilizes a non-discriminating glutamyl-tRNA synthetase to synthesize Glu-tRNA(Gln) and a glutaminyl-tRNA amidotransferase to convert Glu-tRNA(Gln) to Gln-tRNA(Gln). Here, we show that Plasmodium falciparum and other apicomplexans possess a unique heterodimeric glutamyl-tRNA amidotransferase consisting of GatA and GatB subunits (GatAB). We localized the P. falciparum GatA and GatB subunits to the apicoplast in blood stage parasites and demonstrated that recombinant GatAB converts Glu-tRNA(Gln) to Gln-tRNA(Gln) in vitro. We demonstrate that the apicoplast GatAB-catalyzed reaction is essential to the parasite blood stages because we could not delete the Plasmodium berghei gene encoding GatA in blood stage parasites in vivo. A phylogenetic analysis placed the split between Plasmodium GatB, archaeal GatE, and bacterial GatB prior to the phylogenetic divide between bacteria and archaea. Moreover, Plasmodium GatA also appears to have emerged prior to the bacterial-archaeal phylogenetic divide. Thus, although GatAB is found in Plasmodium, it emerged prior to the phylogenetic separation of archaea and bacteria.
Project description:The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and related organisms possess a relict plastid known as the apicoplast. Apicoplast protein synthesis is a validated drug target in malaria because antibiotics that inhibit translation in prokaryotes also inhibit apicoplast protein synthesis and are sometimes used for malaria prophylaxis or treatment. We identified components of an indirect aminoacylation pathway for Gln-tRNA(Gln) biosynthesis in Plasmodium that we hypothesized would be essential for apicoplast protein synthesis. Here, we report our characterization of the first enzyme in this pathway, the apicoplast glutamyl-tRNA synthetase (GluRS). We expressed the recombinant P. falciparum enzyme in Escherichia coli, showed that it is nondiscriminating because it glutamylates both apicoplast tRNA(Glu) and tRNA(Gln), determined its kinetic parameters, and demonstrated its inhibition by a known bacterial GluRS inhibitor. We also localized the Plasmodium berghei ortholog to the apicoplast in blood stage parasites but could not delete the PbGluRS gene. These data show that Gln-tRNA(Gln) biosynthesis in the Plasmodium apicoplast proceeds via an essential indirect aminoacylation pathway that is reminiscent of bacteria and plastids.
Project description:The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum relies on efficient protein translation. An essential component of translation is the tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase (TrpRS) that charges tRNA(trp). Here we characterise two isoforms of TrpRS in Plasmodium; one eukaryotic type localises to the cytosol and a bacterial type localises to the remnant plastid (apicoplast). We show that the apicoplast TrpRS aminoacylates bacterial tRNA(trp) while the cytosolic TrpRS charges eukaryotic tRNA(trp). An inhibitor of bacterial TrpRSs, indolmycin, specifically inhibits aminoacylation by the apicoplast TrpRS in vitro, and inhibits ex vivo Plasmodium parasite growth, killing parasites with a delayed death effect characteristic of apicoplast inhibitors. Indolmycin treatment ablates apicoplast inheritance and is rescuable by addition of the apicoplast metabolite isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP). These data establish that inhibition of an apicoplast housekeeping enzyme leads to loss of the apicoplast and this is sufficient for delayed death. Apicoplast TrpRS is essential for protein translation and is a promising, specific antimalarial target.
Project description:Abstract: The antimalarial activity of the antibiotic thiostrepton has long been attributed to inhibition of apicoplast protein synthesis through binding of apicoplast ribosomal RNA. However, the kinetics of parasite death upon thiostrepton treatment differ from those seen for other inhibitors of apicoplast housekeeping functions. We have analysed global changes in gene expression of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, in an attempt to shed light on the responses of the parasite to this drug. Our results indicate a delay in gene expression profiles of thiostrepton-treated parasites. A small number of genes appear to be regulated outside of this trend; our data suggest a response from genes encoding components of the mitochondrial translational machinery, while little response is seen from genes encoding apicoplast-targeted proteins. Our findings are consistent with an effect of thiostrepton on mitochondrial protein synthesis, and thus warrant a re-evaluation of the target of thiostrepton in Plasmodium. They also provide some suggestion of mitochondrion – nucleus signalling in the parasite. Overall design: 3 biological replicates each for treated and untreated: control (1/2000 DMSO) and LD70 thiostrepton, respectively