Toxoplasma gondii rhoptry kinase ROP16 activates STAT3 and STAT6 resulting in cytokine inhibition and arginase-1-dependent growth control.
ABSTRACT: The ROP16 kinase of Toxoplasma gondii is injected into the host cell cytosol where it activates signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)-3 and STAT6. Here, we generated a ROP16 deletion mutant on a Type I parasite strain background, as well as a control complementation mutant with restored ROP16 expression. We investigated the biological role of the ROP16 molecule during T. gondii infection. Infection of mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages with rop16-deleted (?ROP16) parasites resulted in increased amounts of IL-12p40 production relative to the ROP16-positive RH parental strain. High level IL-12p40 production in ?ROP16 infection was dependent on the host cell adaptor molecule MyD88, but surprisingly was independent of any previously recognized T. gondii triggered pathway linking to MyD88 (TLR2, TLR4, TLR9, TLR11, IL-1ß and IL-18). In addition, ROP16 was found to mediate the suppressive effects of Toxoplasma on LPS-induced cytokine synthesis in macrophages and on IFN-?-induced nitric oxide production by astrocytes and microglial cells. Furthermore, ROP16 triggered synthesis of host cell arginase-1 in a STAT6-dependent manner. In fibroblasts and macrophages, failure to induce arginase-1 by ?ROP16 tachyzoites resulted in resistance to starvation conditions of limiting arginine, an essential amino acid for replication and virulence of this parasite. ?ROP16 tachyzoites that failed to induce host cell arginase-1 displayed increased replication and dissemination during in vivo infection. We conclude that encounter between Toxoplasma ROP16 and the host cell STAT signaling cascade has pleiotropic downstream effects that act in multiple and complex ways to direct the course of infection.
Project description:Toxoplasma gondii and its nearest extant relative, Hammondia hammondi, are phenotypically distinct despite their remarkable similarity in gene content, synteny, and functionality. To begin to identify genetic differences that might drive distinct infection phenotypes of T. gondii and H. hammondi, in the present study we (i) determined whether two known host-interacting proteins, dense granule protein 15 (GRA15) and rhoptry protein 16 (ROP16), were functionally conserved in H. hammondi and (ii) performed the first comparative transcriptional analysis of H. hammondi and T. gondii sporulated oocysts. We found that GRA15 and ROP16 from H. hammondi (HhGRA15 and HhROP16) modulate the host NF-?B and STAT6 pathways, respectively, when expressed heterologously in T. gondii. We also found the transcriptomes of H. hammondi and T. gondii to be highly distinct. Consistent with the spontaneous conversion of H. hammondi tachyzoites into bradyzoites both in vitro and in vivo, H. hammondi high-abundance transcripts are enriched for genes that are of greater abundance in T. gondii bradyzoites. We also identified genes that are of high transcript abundance in H. hammondi but are poorly expressed in multiple T. gondii life stages, suggesting that these genes are uniquely expressed in H. hammondi. Taken together, these data confirm the functional conservation of known T. gondii virulence effectors in H. hammondi and point to transcriptional differences as a potential source of the phenotypic differences between these species.
Project description:Toxoplasma gondii transmission between intermediate hosts is dependent on the ingestion of walled cysts formed during the chronic phase of infection. Immediately following consumption, the parasite must ensure survival of the host by preventing adverse inflammatory responses and/or by limiting its own replication. Since the Toxoplasma secreted effectors rhoptry 16 kinase (ROP16) and dense granule 15 (GRA15) activate the JAK-STAT3/6 and NF-?B signaling pathways, respectively, we explored whether a particular combination of these effectors impacted intestinal inflammation and parasite survival in vivo. Here we report that expression of the STAT-activating version of ROP16 in the type II strain (strain II+ROP16I) promotes host resistance to oral infection only in the context of endogenous GRA15 expression. Protection was characterized by a lower intestinal parasite burden and dampened inflammation. Host resistance to the II+ROP16I strain occurred independently of STAT6 and the T cell coinhibitory receptors B7-DC and B7-H1, two receptors that are upregulated by ROP16. In addition, coexpression of ROP16 and GRA15 enhanced parasite susceptibility within tumor necrosis factor alpha/gamma interferon-stimulated macrophages in a STAT3/6-independent manner. Transcriptional profiling of infected STAT3- and STAT6-deficient macrophages and parasitized Peyer's patches from mice orally challenged with strain II+ROP16I suggested that ROP16 activated STAT5 to modulate host gene expression. Consistent with this supposition, the ROP16 kinase induced the sustained phosphorylation and nuclear localization of STAT5 in Toxoplasma-infected cells. In summary, only the combined expression of both GRA15 and ROP16 promoted host resistance to acute oral infection, and Toxoplasma may possibly target the STAT5 signaling pathway to generate protective immunity in the gut.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Toxoplasma gondii is an opportunistic protozoan infecting almost one-third of the world's population. Toxoplasma gondii rhoptry protein 18 (TgROP18) is a key virulence factor determining the parasite's acute virulence and is secreted into host cells during infection. We previously identified the interaction of TgROP18 and host cell immune-related receptor protein IL20RB, and observed the activation of STAT3 in human keratinocytes (HaCaT) cells infected by the rop16 knockout RH strain, though TgROP16 is regarded as being responsible for host STAT3 activation during T. gondii invasion. Therefore, we hypothesize TgROP18 can activate host STAT3 through binding to IL20RB. METHODS:CRISPR-CAS9 technology was used to generate the ROP16 and ROP18 double knockout RH strain, RH-?rop16?rop18. SDS-PAGE and western blot were used to detect STAT3 activation in different HaCaT cells with high endogenous IL20RB expression treated with T. gondii tachyzoites infection, recombinant ROP18, or IL-20. FRET and co-immunoprecipitation (Co-IP) was used to detect the protein-protein interaction. RESULTS:We observed that TgROP18 was involved in a synergic activation of the host JAK/STAT3 pathway together with TgROP16 in human HaCaT cells infected with T. gondii or treated with recombinant TgROP18 protein, stimulating host proinflammatory immune responses such as expression of TNF-?. The effect of recombinant ROP18 on STAT3 phosphorylation was presented in a dose-dependent manner. Additionally, TgROP18 was identified to target IL20RB on its extracellular domain. When we treated different cell lines with the recombinant ROP18, STAT3 phosphorylation could only be observed in the cells with endogenous IL20RB expression, such as HaCaT cells. CONCLUSIONS:These findings indicate that TgROP18-IL20RB interaction upon T. gondii invasion was involved in STAT3 activation, which is associated with host cell defense.
Project description:Toxoplasma gondii ROP16 and ROP18 proteins have been identified as important virulence factors for this parasite. Here, we describe the effect of ROP16 and ROP18 proteins on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from individuals with different clinical status of infection. We evaluated IFN-?, IL-10, and IL-1? levels in supernatants from PBMCs cultures infected with tachyzoites of the T. gondii wild-type RH strain or with knock-out mutants of the rop16 and rop18 encoding genes (RH?rop16 and RH?rop18). Cytokine secretion was compared between PBMCs obtained from seronegative individuals (n = 10), with those with chronic asymptomatic (n = 8), or ocular infection (n = 12). We also evaluated if polymorphisms in the genes encoding for IFN-?, IL-10, IL-1?, Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9), and purinoreceptor P2RX7 influenced the production of the encoded proteins after ex vivo stimulation. In individuals with chronic asymptomatic infection, only a moderate effect on IL-10 levels was observed when PBMCs were infected with RH?rop16, whereas a significant difference in the levels of inflammatory cytokines IFN-? and IL-1? was observed in seronegative individuals, but this was also dependent on the host's cytokine gene polymorphisms. Infection with ROP16-deficient parasites had a significant effect on IFN-? production in previously non-infected individuals, suggesting that ROP16 which is considered as a virulence factor plays a role during the primary infection in humans, but not in the secondary immune response.
Project description:Toxoplasmosis, caused by the apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, is one of the most common infections in the world due to the lifelong persistence of this parasite in a latent stage. This parasite hijacks host signaling pathways through epigenetic mechanisms which converge on key nuclear proteins. Here, we report a new parasite persistence strategy involving T. gondii rhoptry protein ROP16 secreted early during invasion, which targets the transcription factor UHRF1 (ubiquitin-like containing PHD and RING fingers domain 1), and leads to host cell cycle arrest. This is mediated by DNMT activity and chromatin remodeling at the cyclin B1 gene promoter through recruitment of phosphorylated UHRF1 associated with a repressive multienzymatic protein complex. This leads to deacetylation and methylation of histone H3 surrounding the cyclin B1 promoter to epigenetically silence its transcriptional activity. Moreover, T. gondii infection causes DNA hypermethylation in its host cell, by upregulation of DNMTs. ROP16 is already known to activate and phosphorylate protective immunity transcription factors such as STAT 3/6/5 and modulate host signaling pathways in a strain-dependent manner. Like in the case of STAT6, the strain-dependent effects of ROP16 on UHRF1 are dependent on a single amino-acid polymorphism in ROP16. This study demonstrates that Toxoplasma hijacks a new epigenetic initiator, UHRF1, through an early event initiated by the ROP16 parasite kinase.
Project description:European and North American strains of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii belong to three distinct clonal lineages, type I, type II, and type III, which differ in virulence. Understanding the basis of Toxoplasma strain differences and how secreted effectors work to achieve chronic infection is a major goal of current research. Here we show that type I and III infected macrophages, a cell type required for host immunity to Toxoplasma, are alternatively activated, while type II infected macrophages are classically activated. The Toxoplasma rhoptry kinase ROP16, which activates STAT6, is responsible for alternative activation. The Toxoplasma dense granule protein GRA15, which activates NF-?B, promotes classical activation by type II parasites. These effectors antagonistically regulate many of the same genes, and mice infected with type II parasites expressing type I ROP16 are protected against Toxoplasma-induced ileitis. Thus, polymorphisms in determinants that modulate macrophage activation influence the ability of Toxoplasma to establish a chronic infection.
Project description:The ability of Toxoplasma gondii to inject the rhoptry kinase ROP16 into host cells results in the activation of the transcription factors STAT3 and STAT6, but it is unclear how these events impact infection. Here, parasites that inject Cre-recombinase with rhoptry proteins were used to distinguish infected macrophages from those only injected with parasite proteins. Transcriptional profiling revealed that injection of rhoptry proteins alone was sufficient to induce an M2 phenotype that is dependent on STAT3 and STAT6, but only infected cells displayed reduced expression of genes associated with antimicrobial activity and protective immunity. In vivo, the absence of STAT3 or STAT6 improved parasite control, while the loss of ROP16 resulted in a marked reduction in parasite numbers and heightened parasite-specific T cell responses. Thus, ROP16 is a virulence factor that can act in cis and trans to promote M2 programs and which limits the magnitude of parasite-specific T cell responses.
Project description:The intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii has multiple strategies to alter host cell function, including the injection of rhoptry proteins into the cytosol of host cells as well as bystander populations, but the consequence of these events is unclear. Here, a reporter system using fluorescent parasite strains that inject Cre recombinase with their rhoptry proteins (Toxoplasma-Cre) was combined with Ai6 Cre reporter mice to identify cells that have been productively infected, that have been rhoptry injected but lack the parasite, or that have phagocytosed T. gondii. The ability to distinguish these host-parasite interactions was then utilized to dissect the events that lead to the production of interleukin-12 p40 (IL-12p40), which is required for resistance to T. gondii. In vivo, the use of invasion-competent or invasion-inhibited (phagocytosed) parasites with IL-12p40 (YET40) reporter mice revealed that dendritic cell (DC) and macrophage populations that phagocytose the parasite or are infected can express IL-12p40 but are not the major source, as larger numbers of uninfected cells secrete this cytokine. Similarly, the use of Toxoplasma-Cre parasite strains indicated that dendritic cells and inflammatory monocytes untouched by the parasite and not cells injected by the parasite are the primary source of IL-12p40. These results imply that a soluble host or parasite factor is responsible for the bulk of IL-12p40 production in vivo, rather than cellular interactions with T. gondii that result in infection, infection and clearance, injection of rhoptry proteins, or phagocytosis of the parasite.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Different from three clonal lineages of Toxoplasma gondii in North America and Europe, the genotype China 1 is predominantly prevalent in China. However, there are different virulent isolates within China 1, such as virulent TgCtwh3 and avirulent TgCtwh6, and little is known about differences in macrophage activation between them. The objective of this study focused on cytokine production, phenotype and markers of activated macrophages, and correlated signaling pathway induced by the two isolates. METHODS: Adherent peritoneal macrophages (termed Wh3-M? and Wh6-M?, respectively) harvested from infected mice were cultured for detection of Nitric Oxide and arginase activity, and activated markers on Wh3-M?/Wh6-M? were determined by flow cytometry. In in vitro experiments, the levels of IL-12p40 and TNF-? were measured using ELISA kits, and mRNA expressions of IL-12p40, TNF-?, iNOS, Arg-1 and Ym1 were assayed by real-time PCR. To confirm the activation state of NF-kB p65 in infected cells stained by IF, protein levels of iNOS, Arg-1, Ym1, nuclear NF-?B p65, and phosphorylation of STAT6/STAT3/I?B? were evaluated by Western Blotting. A one-way ANOVA test was used to compare differences among multiple groups. RESULTS: The result revealed that contrary to the virulent TgCtwh3, the less virulent TgCtwh6 isolate induced a significant increase in IL-12p40 and TNF-?. Although both isolates down-regulated CD80, CD86 and MHCII molecule expression on macrophages, TgCtwh3 promoted up-regulation of PD-L2 and CD206. Wh6-M? generated a high level of NO whereas Wh3-M? up-regulated Ym1 and arginase expression at transcriptional and protein levels. In terms of signaling pathway, TgCtwh3 induced phospho-STAT6, conversely, TgCtWh6 led to NF-?B p65 activation. CONCLUSIONS: The virulent TgCtwh3 isolate induced macrophages to polarize toward alternatively activated cells with STAT6 phosphorylation, whereas the less virulent TgCtwh6 elicited the development of classically activated macrophages with nuclear translocation of NF-?B p65. This discrepancy suggests that it is necessary to thoroughly analyze the genotype of TgCtwh3 and TgCtwh6, and to further study other effector molecules that contribute to the macrophage polarization in T. gondii.
Project description:Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling in macrophages is required for antipathogen responses, including the biosynthesis of nitric oxide from arginine, and is essential for immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Toxoplasma gondii and other intracellular pathogens. Here we report a 'loophole' in the TLR pathway that is advantageous to these pathogens. Intracellular pathogens induced expression of the arginine hydrolytic enzyme arginase 1 (Arg1) in mouse macrophages through the TLR pathway. In contrast to diseases dominated by T helper type 2 responses in which Arg1 expression is greatly increased by interleukin 4 and 13 signaling through the transcription factor STAT6, TLR-mediated Arg1 induction was independent of the STAT6 pathway. Specific elimination of Arg1 in macrophages favored host survival during T. gondii infection and decreased lung bacterial load during tuberculosis infection.