Glucose and Glycogen Metabolism in Brugia malayi Is Associated with Wolbachia Symbiont Fitness.
ABSTRACT: Wolbachia are endosymbiotic bacteria found in the majority of arthropods and filarial nematodes of medical and veterinary importance. They have evolved a wide range of symbiotic associations. In filarial nematodes that cause human lymphatic filariasis (Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi) or onchocerciasis (Onchocerca volvulus), Wolbachia are important for parasite development, reproduction and survival. The symbiotic bacteria rely in part on nutrients and energy sources provided by the host. Genomic analyses suggest that the strain of Wolbachia found in B. malayi (wBm) lacks the genes for two glycolytic enzymes--6-phosphofructokinase and pyruvate kinase--and is thus potentially unable to convert glucose into pyruvate, an important substrate for energy generation. The Wolbachia surface protein, wBm00432, is complexed to six B. malayi glycolytic enzymes, including aldolase. In this study we characterized two B. malayi aldolase isozymes and found that their expression is dependent on Wolbachia fitness and number. We confirmed by immuno-transmission electron microscopy that aldolase is associated with the Wolbachia surface. RNAi experiments suggested that aldolase-2 plays a significant role in both Wolbachia survival and embryogenesis in B. malayi. Treatment with doxycycline reduced Wolbachia fitness and increased the amount of both glucose and glycogen detected in the filarial parasite, indicating that glucose metabolism and glycogen storage in B. malayi are associated with Wolbachia fitness. This metabolic co-dependency between Wolbachia and its filarial nematode indicates that glycolysis could be a shared metabolic pathway between the bacteria and B. malayi, and thus a potential new target for anti-filarial therapy.
Project description:The human filarial parasite Brugia malayi harbors an endosymbiotic bacterium of the genus Wolbachia. The Wolbachia represent an attractive target for the control of filarial induced disease as elimination of the bacteria affects molting, reproduction and survival of the worms. The molecular basis for the symbiotic relationship between Wolbachia and their filarial hosts has yet to be elucidated. To identify proteins involved in this process, we focused on the Wolbachia surface proteins (WSPs), which are known to be involved in bacteria-host interactions in other bacterial systems. Two WSP-like proteins (wBm0152 and wBm0432) were localized to various host tissues of the B. malayi female adult worms and are present in the excretory/secretory products of the worms. We provide evidence that both of these proteins bind specifically to B. malayi crude protein extracts and to individual filarial proteins to create functional complexes. The wBm0432 interacts with several key enzymes involved in the host glycolytic pathway, including aldolase and enolase. The wBm0152 interacts with the host cytoskeletal proteins actin and tubulin. We also show these interactions in vitro and have verified that wBm0432 and B. malayi aldolase, as well as wBm0152 and B. malayi actin, co-localize to the vacuole surrounding Wolbachia. We propose that both WSP protein complexes interact with each other via the aldolase-actin link and/or via the possible interaction between the host's enolase and the cytoskeleton, and play a role in Wolbachia distribution during worm growth and embryogenesis.
Project description:Human parasitic nematodes are the causative agents of lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and onchocerciasis (river blindness), diseases that are endemic to more than 80 countries and that consistently rank in the top ten for the highest number of years lived with disability. These filarial nematodes have evolved an obligate mutualistic association with an intracellular bacterium, Wolbachia, a symbiont that is essential for the successful development, reproduction, and survival of adult filarial worms. Elimination of the bacteria causes adult worms to die, making Wolbachia a primary target for developing new interventional tools to combat filariases. To further explore Wolbachia as a promising indirect macrofilaricidal drug target, the essential cellular processes that define the symbiotic Wolbachia-host interactions need to be identified. Genomic analyses revealed that while filarial nematodes encode all the enzymes necessary for glycolysis, Wolbachia does not encode the genes for three glycolytic enzymes: hexokinase, 6-phosphofructokinase, and pyruvate kinase. These enzymes are necessary for converting glucose into pyruvate. Wolbachia, however, has the full complement of genes required for gluconeogenesis starting with pyruvate, and for energy metabolism via the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Therefore, we hypothesized that Wolbachia might depend on host glycolysis to maintain a mutualistic association with their parasitic host. We did conditional experiments in vitro that confirmed that glycolysis and its end-product, pyruvate, sustain this symbiotic relationship. Analysis of alternative sources of pyruvate within the worm indicated that the filarial lactate dehydrogenase could also regulate the local intracellular concentration of pyruvate in proximity to Wolbachia and thus help control bacterial growth via molecular interactions with the bacteria. Lastly, we have shown that the parasite's pyruvate kinase, the enzyme that performs the last step in glycolysis, could be a potential novel anti-filarial drug target. Establishing that glycolysis is an essential component of symbiosis in filarial worms could have a broader impact on research focused on other intracellular bacteria-host interactions where the role of glycolysis in supporting intracellular survival of bacteria has been reported.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Most filarial nematodes contain Wolbachia symbionts. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of doxycycline on gene expression in Wolbachia and adult female Brugia malayi. METHODS: Brugia malayi infected gerbils were treated with doxycycline for 6-weeks. This treatment largely cleared Wolbachia and arrested worm reproduction. RNA recovered from treated and control female worms was labeled by random priming and hybridized to the Version 2- filarial microarray to obtain expression profiles. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Results showed significant changes in expression for 200 Wolbachia (29% of Wolbachia genes with expression signals in untreated worms) and 546 B. malayi array elements after treatment. These elements correspond to known genes and also to novel genes with unknown biological functions. Most differentially expressed Wolbachia genes were down-regulated after treatment (98.5%). In contrast, doxycycline had a mixed effect on B. malayi gene expression with many more genes being significantly up-regulated after treatment (85% of differentially expressed genes). Genes and processes involved in reproduction (gender-regulated genes, collagen, amino acid metabolism, ribosomal processes, and cytoskeleton) were down-regulated after doxycycline while up-regulated genes and pathways suggest adaptations for survival in response to stress (energy metabolism, electron transport, anti-oxidants, nutrient transport, bacterial signaling pathways, and immune evasion). CONCLUSIONS: Doxycycline reduced Wolbachia and significantly decreased bacterial gene expression. Wolbachia ribosomes are believed to be the primary biological target for doxycycline in filarial worms. B. malayi genes essential for reproduction, growth and development were also down-regulated; these changes are consistent with doxycycline effects on embryo development and reproduction. On the other hand, many B. malayi genes involved in energy production, electron-transport, metabolism, anti-oxidants, and others with unknown functions had increased expression signals after doxycycline treatment. These results suggest that female worms are able to compensate in part for the loss of Wolbachia so that they can survive, albeit without reproductive capacity. This study of doxycycline induced changes in gene expression has provided new clues regarding the symbiotic relationship between Wolbachia and B. malayi.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Filarial nematodes currently infect up to 54 million people worldwide, with millions more at risk for infection, representing the leading cause of disability in the developing world. Brugia malayi is one of the causative agents of lymphatic filariasis and remains the only human filarial parasite that can be maintained in small laboratory animals. Many filarial nematode species, including B. malayi, carry an obligate endosymbiont, the alpha-proteobacteria Wolbachia, which can be eliminated through antibiotic treatment. Elimination of the endosymbiont interferes with development, reproduction, and survival of the worms within the mamalian host, a clear indicator that the Wolbachia are crucial for survival of the parasite. Little is understood about the mechanism underlying this symbiosis.<h4>Methodology/ principle findings</h4>To better understand the molecular interplay between these two organisms we profiled the transcriptomes of B. malayi and Wolbachia by dual RNA-seq across the life cycle of the parasite. This helped identify functional pathways involved in this essential symbiotic relationship provided by the co-expression of nematode and bacterial genes. We have identified significant stage-specific and gender-specific differential expression in Wolbachia during the nematode's development. For example, during female worm development we find that Wolbachia upregulate genes involved in ATP production and purine biosynthesis, as well as genes involved in the oxidative stress response.<h4>Conclusions/ significance</h4>This global transcriptional analysis has highlighted specific pathways to which both Wolbachia and B. malayi contribute concurrently over the life cycle of the parasite, paving the way for the development of novel intervention strategies.
Project description:The Brugia malayi endosymbiont Wolbachia has recently been shown to be essential for its host's survival and development. However, relatively little is known about Wolbachia proteins that interact with the filarial host and which might be important in maintaining the obligate symbiotic relationship. The Wolbachia surface proteins (WSPs) are members of the outer membrane protein family and we hypothesise that they might be involved in the Wolbachia-Brugia symbiotic relationship. Notably, immunolocalisation studies of two WSP members, WSP-0432 and WSP-0284 in B. malayi female adult worms showed that the corresponding proteins are not only present on the surface of Wolbachia but also in the host tissues, with WSP-0284 more abundant in the cuticle, hypodermis and the nuclei within the embryos. These results confirmed that WSPs might be secreted by Wolbachia into the worm's tissue. Our present studies focus on the potential involvement of WSP-0284 in the symbiotic relationship of Wolbachia with its filarial host. We show that WSP-0284 binds specifically to B. malayi crude protein extracts. Furthermore, a fragment of the hypothetical B. malayi protein (Bm1_46455) was found to bind WSP-0284 by panning of a B. malayi cDNA library. The interaction of WSP-0284 and this protein was further confirmed by ELISA and pull-down assays. Localisation by immunoelectron microscopy within Wolbachia cells as well as in the worm's tissues, cuticle and nuclei within embryos established that both proteins are present in similar locations within the parasite and the bacteria. Identifying such specific interactions between B. malayi and Wolbachia proteins should lead to a better understanding of the molecular basis of the filarial nematode and Wolbachia symbiosis.
Project description:Many species of filarial nematodes depend on Wolbachia endobacteria to carry out their life cycle. Other species are naturally Wolbachia-free. The biological mechanisms underpinning Wolbachia-dependence and independence in filarial nematodes are not known. Previous studies have indicated that Wolbachia have an impact on mitochondrial gene expression, which may suggest a role in energy metabolism. If Wolbachia can supplement host energy metabolism, reduced mitochondrial function in infected filarial species may account for Wolbachia-dependence. Wolbachia also have a strong influence on mitochondrial evolution due to vertical co-transmission. This could drive alterations in mitochondrial genome sequence in infected species. Comparisons between the mitochondrial genome sequences of Wolbachia-dependent and independent filarial worms may reveal differences indicative of altered mitochondrial function.The mitochondrial genomes of 5 species of filarial nematodes, Acanthocheilonema viteae, Chandlerella quiscali, Loa loa, Onchocerca flexuosa, and Wuchereria bancrofti, were sequenced, annotated and compared with available mitochondrial genome sequences from Brugia malayi, Dirofilaria immitis, Onchocerca volvulus and Setaria digitata. B. malayi, D. immitis, O. volvulus and W. bancrofti are Wolbachia-dependent while A. viteae, C. quiscali, L. loa, O. flexuosa and S. digitata are Wolbachia-free. The 9 mitochondrial genomes were similar in size and AT content and encoded the same 12 protein-coding genes, 22 tRNAs and 2 rRNAs. Synteny was perfectly preserved in all species except C. quiscali, which had a different order for 5 tRNA genes. Protein-coding genes were expressed at the RNA level in all examined species. In phylogenetic trees based on mitochondrial protein-coding sequences, species did not cluster according to Wolbachia dependence.Thus far, no discernable differences were detected between the mitochondrial genome sequences of Wolbachia-dependent and independent species. Additional research will be needed to determine whether mitochondria from Wolbachia-dependent filarial species show reduced function in comparison to the mitochondria of Wolbachia-independent species despite their sequence-level similarities.
Project description:The filarial nematode Brugia malayi is one of the causative agents of lymphatic filariasis, a neglected tropical disease that affects 120 million people worldwide. The limited effectiveness of available anthelmintics and the absence of a vaccine have prompted extensive research on the interaction between Brugia and its obligate bacterial endosymbiont, Wolbachia. Recent studies suggest that Wolbachia is able to manipulate its nematode host immunity but relatively little is known about the immune system of filarial nematodes. Therefore, elucidation of the mechanisms underlying the immune system of B. malayi may be useful for understanding how the symbiotic relationship is maintained and help in the identification of new drug targets. In order to characterize the main genetic pathways involved in B. malayi immunity, we exposed adult female worms to two bacterial lysates (Escherichia coli and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens), dsRNA and dsDNA. We performed transcriptome sequencing of worms exposed to each immune elicitor at two different timepoints. Gene expression analysis of untreated and immune-challenged worms was performed to characterize gene expression patterns associated with each type of immune stimulation. Our results indicate that different immune elicitors produced distinct expression patterns in B. malayi, with changes in the expression of orthologs of well-characterized C. elegans immune pathways such as insulin, TGF-?, and p38 MAPK pathways, as well as C-type lectins and several stress-response genes.
Project description:Loa loa, the African eyeworm, is a major filarial pathogen of humans. Unlike most filariae, L. loa does not contain the obligate intracellular Wolbachia endosymbiont. We describe the 91.4-Mb genome of L. loa and that of the related filarial parasite Wuchereria bancrofti and predict 14,907 L. loa genes on the basis of microfilarial RNA sequencing. By comparing these genomes to that of another filarial parasite, Brugia malayi, and to those of several other nematodes, we demonstrate synteny among filariae but not with nonparasitic nematodes. The L. loa genome encodes many immunologically relevant genes, as well as protein kinases targeted by drugs currently approved for use in humans. Despite lacking Wolbachia, L. loa shows no new metabolic synthesis or transport capabilities compared to other filariae. These results suggest that the role of Wolbachia in filarial biology is more subtle than previously thought and reveal marked differences between parasitic and nonparasitic nematodes.
Project description:The use of antibiotics targeting the obligate bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia of filarial parasites has been validated as an approach for controlling filarial infection in animals and humans. Availability of genomic sequences for the Wolbachia (wBm) present in the human filarial parasite Brugia malayi has enabled genome-wide searching for new potential drug targets. In the present study, we investigated the cell division machinery of wBm and determined that it possesses the essential cell division gene ftsZ which was expressed in all developmental stages of B. malayi examined. FtsZ is a GTPase thereby making the protein an attractive Wolbachia drug target. We described the molecular characterization and catalytic properties of Wolbachia FtsZ. We also demonstrated that the GTPase activity was inhibited by the natural product, berberine, and small molecule inhibitors identified from a high-throughput screen. Furthermore, berberine was also effective in reducing motility and reproduction in B. malayi parasites in vitro. Our results should facilitate the discovery of selective inhibitors of FtsZ as a novel anti-symbiotic approach for controlling filarial infection. NOTE: The nucleotide sequences reported in this paper are available in GenBank™ Data Bank under the accession number wAlB-FtsZ (JN616286).
Project description:The filarial nematodes Brugia malayi, Wuchereria bancrofti and Onchocerca volvulus cause elephantiasis, dermatitis and blindness, resulting in severe morbidity in developing countries. 1.3 billion people are at risk of infection. Targeting the essential Wolbachia endobacteria of filarial nematodes with doxycycline has proven to be an effective therapy, resulting in a block in embryogenesis and worm development, and macrofilaricidal effects. However, doxycycline is contraindicated for a large portion of the at-risk population. To identify new targets for anti-wolbachial therapy, understanding the molecular basis of the Wolbachia-filaria symbiosis is required. We performed cross-species hybridization by using the Brugia malayi microarray to identify differentially expressed genes in the rodent filaria Litomosoides sigmodontis after depletion of Wolbachia which therefore might have a role in symbiosis. Overall design: Female adult Litomosoides sigmodontis from patent infections were treated with tetracycline to deplete endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria. RNA from tetracycline-treated Litomosoides sigmodontis was compared to untreated age-matched control worms. This experiment was performed for three different timepoints: day 6, 15 and 36 of tetracycline treatment. One biological replicate was performed each with two technical replicates (dye-flip replicates).