A multigene family encoding surface glycoproteins in Trypanosoma congolense.
ABSTRACT: Trypanosoma congolense, the causative agent of the most important livestock disease in Africa, expresses specific surface proteins involved in its parasitic lifestyle. Unfortunately, the complete repertoire of such molecules is far from being deciphered. As these membrane components are exposed to the host environment, they could be used as therapeutic or diagnostic targets. By mining the T. congolense genome database, we identified a novel family of lectin-like glycoproteins (TcoClecs). These molecules are predicted to have a transmembrane domain, a tandem repeat amino acid motif, a signal peptide and a C-type lectin-like domain (CTLD). This paper depicts several experimental arguments in favor of a surface localization in bloodstream forms of T. congolense. A TcoClec gene was heterologously expressed in U-2 OS cells and the product could be partially found at the plasma membrane. TcoClecs were also localized at the surface of T. congolense bloodstream forms. The signal was suppressed when the cells were treated with a detergent to remove the plasma membrane or with trypsin to « shave » the parasites and remove their external proteins. This suggests that TcoClecs could be potential diagnostic or therapeutic antigens of African animal trypanosomiasis. The potential role of these proteins in T. congolense as well as in other trypanosomatids is discussed.
Project description:Trypanosoma congolense is an important pathogen of livestock in Africa. To study protein expression throughout the T. congolense life cycle, we used culture-derived parasites of each of the three main insect stages and bloodstream stage parasites isolated from infected mice, to perform differential protein expression analysis. Three complete biological replicates of all four life cycle stages were produced from T. congolense IL3000, a cloned parasite that is amenable to culture of major life cycle stages in vitro. Cellular proteins from each life cycle stage were trypsin digested and the resulting peptides were labeled with isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ). The peptides were then analyzed by tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). This method was used to identify and relatively quantify proteins from the different life cycle stages in the same experiment. A search of the Wellcome Trust's Sanger Institute's semi-annotated T. congolense database was performed using the MS/MS fragmentation data to identify the corresponding source proteins. A total of 2088 unique protein sequences were identified, representing 23% of the ?9000 proteins predicted for the T. congolense proteome. The 1291 most confidently identified proteins were prioritized for further study. Of these, 784 yielded annotated hits while 501 were described as "hypothetical proteins". Six proteins showed no significant sequence similarity to any known proteins (from any species) and thus represent new, previously uncharacterized T. congolense proteins. Of particular interest among the remainder are several membrane molecules that showed drastic differential expression, including, not surprisingly, the well-studied variant surface glycoproteins (VSGs), invariant surface glycoproteins (ISGs) 65 and 75, congolense epimastigote specific protein (CESP), the surface protease GP63, an amino acid transporter, a pteridine transporter and a haptoglobin-hemoglobin receptor. Several of these surface disposed proteins are of functional interest as they are necessary for survival of the parasites.
Project description:Trans-sialidases are key enzymes in the life cycle of African trypanosomes in both, mammalian host and insect vector and have been associated with the disease trypanosomiasis, namely sleeping sickness and nagana. Besides the previously reported TconTS1, we have identified three additional active trans-sialidases, TconTS2, TconTS3 and TconTS4, and three trans-sialidase like genes in Trypanosoma congolense. At least TconTS1, TconTS2 and TconTS4 are found in the bloodstream of infected animals. We have characterised the enzymatic properties of recombinant proteins expressed in eukaryotic fibroblasts using fetuin as model blood glycoprotein donor substrate. One of the recombinant trans-sialidases, TconTS2, had the highest specific activity reported thus far with very low sialidase activity. The active trans-sialidases share all the amino acids critical for the catalytic reaction with few variations in the predicted binding site for the leaving or acceptor glycan. However, these differences cannot explain the orders of magnitudes between their transfer activities, which must be due to other unidentified structural features of the proteins or substrates selectivity. Interestingly, the phylogenetic relationships between the lectin domains correlate with their specific trans-sialylation activities. This raises the question whether and how the lectin domains regulate the trans-sialidase reaction. The identification and enzymatic characterisation of the trans-sialidase family in T. congolense will contribute significantly towards the understanding of the roles of these enzymes in the pathogenesis of Animal African Trypanosomiasis.
Project description:Trypanosoma congolense is one of the most economically important pathogens of livestock in Africa. Culture-derived parasites of each of the three main insect stages of the T. congolense life cycle, i.e., the procyclic, epimastigote and metacyclic stages, and bloodstream stage parasites isolated from infected mice, were used to construct stage-specific cDNA libraries and expressed sequence tags (ESTs or cDNA clones) in each library were sequenced. Thirteen EST clusters encoding different variant surface glycoproteins (VSGs) were detected in the metacyclic library and 26 VSG EST clusters were found in the bloodstream library, 6 of which are shared by the metacyclic library. Rare VSG ESTs are present in the epimastigote library, and none were detected in the procyclic library. ESTs encoding enzymes that catalyze oxidative phosphorylation and amino acid metabolism are about twice as abundant in the procyclic and epimastigote stages as in the metacyclic and bloodstream stages. In contrast, ESTs encoding enzymes involved in glycolysis, the citric acid cycle and nucleotide metabolism are about the same in all four developmental stages. Cysteine proteases, kinases and phosphatases are the most abundant enzyme groups represented by the ESTs. All four libraries contain T. congolense-specific expressed sequences not present in the Trypanosoma brucei and Trypanosoma cruzi genomes. Normalized cDNA libraries were constructed from the metacyclic and bloodstream stages, and found to be further enriched for T. congolense-specific ESTs. Given that cultured T. congolense offers an experimental advantage over other African trypanosome species, these ESTs provide a basis for further investigation of the molecular properties of these four developmental stages, especially the epimastigote and metacyclic stages for which it is difficult to obtain large quantities of organisms. The T. congolense EST databases are available at: http://www.sanger.ac.uk/Projects/T_congolense/EST_index.shtml. The sequence data have been submitted to EMBL under the following accession numbers: FN263376-FN292969.
Project description:African trypanosomiasis is a vector-borne disease of humans and livestock caused by African trypanosomes (Trypanosoma spp.). Survival in the vertebrate bloodstream depends on antigenic variation of Variant Surface Glycoproteins (VSGs) coating the parasite surface. In T. brucei, a model for antigenic variation, monoallelic VSG expression originates from dedicated VSG expression sites (VES). Trypanosoma brucei VES have a conserved structure consisting of a telomeric VSG locus downstream of unique, repeat sequences, and an independent promoter. Additional protein-coding sequences, known as "Expression Site Associated Genes (ESAGs)", are also often present and are implicated in diverse, bloodstream-stage functions. Trypanosoma congolense is a related veterinary pathogen, also displaying VSG-mediated antigenic variation. A T. congolense VES has not been described, making it unclear if regulation of VSG expression is conserved between species. Here, we describe a conserved telomeric region associated with VSG loci from long-read DNA sequencing of two T. congolense strains, which consists of a distal repeat, conserved noncoding elements and other genes besides the VSG; although these are not orthologous to T. brucei ESAGs. Most conserved telomeric regions are associated with accessory minichromosomes, but the same structure may also be associated with megabase chromosomes. We propose that this region represents the T. congolense VES, and through comparison with T. brucei, we discuss the parallel evolution of antigenic switching mechanisms, and unique adaptation of the T. brucei VES for developmental regulation of bloodstream-stage genes. Hence, we provide a basis for understanding antigenic switching in T. congolense and the origins of the African trypanosome VES.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Identification of species-specific trypanosome molecules is important for laboratory- and field-based research into epidemiology and disease diagnosis. Although Trypanosoma congolense is the most important trypanosome pathogen of cattle in Africa, no species-specific molecules found in infective bloodstream forms (BSF) of the parasites have been identified, thus limiting development of diagnostic tests. METHODS:Immuno-mass spectrometric methods were used to identify a protein that is recognized by a T. congolense-specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) Tc6/42.6.4. The identified molecule was expressed as a recombinant protein in E. coli and was tested in several immunoassays for its ability to interact with the mAb. The three dimensional structure of the protein was modeled and compared to crystal- and NMR-structures of the homologous proteins from T. cruzi and T. brucei respectively, in order to examine structural differences leading to the different immunoreactivity of the T. congolense molecule. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) were used to measure antibodies produced by trypanosome-infected African cattle in order to assess the potential for use of T. congolense calflagin in a serodiagnostic assay. RESULTS:The antigen recognized by the T. congolense-specific mAb Tc6/42.6.4 was identified as a flagellar calcium-binding protein, calflagin. The recombinant molecule showed immunoreactivity with the T. congolense-specific mAb confirming that it is the cognate antigen. Immunofluorescence experiments revealed that Ca2+ modulated the localization of the calflagin molecule in trypanosomes. Structural modelling and comparison with calflagin homologues from other trypanosomatids revealed four non-conserved regions on the surface of the T. congolense molecule that due to differences in surface chemistry and structural topography may form species-specific epitopes. ELISAs using the recombinant calflagin as antigen to detect antibodies in trypanosome-infected cattle showed that the majority of cattle had antibody responses. Area under the Receiver-Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves, associated with host IgG and IgM, were calculated to be 0.623 and 0.709 respectively, indicating a positive correlation between trypanosome infection and the presence of anti-calflagin antibodies. CONCLUSIONS:While calflagin is conserved among different species of African trypanosomes, our results show that T. congolense calflagin possesses unique epitopes that differentiate this protein from homologues in other trypanosome species. MAb Tc6/42.6.4 has clear utility as a laboratory tool for identifying T. congolense. T. congolense calflagin has potential as a serodiagnostic antigen and should be explored further for its utility in antigen-detection assays for diagnosis of cattle infections.
Project description:Animal African Trypanosomiasis (AAT) is a debilitating livestock disease prevalent across sub-Saharan Africa, a main cause of which is the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma congolense. In comparison to the well-studied T. brucei, there is a major paucity of knowledge regarding the biology of T. congolense. Here, we use a combination of omics technologies and novel genetic tools to characterise core metabolism in T. congolense mammalian-infective bloodstream-form parasites, and test whether metabolic differences compared to T. brucei impact upon sensitivity to metabolic inhibition. Like the bloodstream stage of T. brucei, glycolysis plays a major part in T. congolense energy metabolism. However, the rate of glucose uptake is significantly lower in bloodstream stage T. congolense, with cells remaining viable when cultured in concentrations as low as 2 mM. Instead of pyruvate, the primary glycolytic endpoints are succinate, malate and acetate. Transcriptomics analysis showed higher levels of transcripts associated with the mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase complex, acetate generation, and the glycosomal succinate shunt in T. congolense, compared to T. brucei. Stable-isotope labelling of glucose enabled the comparison of carbon usage between T. brucei and T. congolense, highlighting differences in nucleotide and saturated fatty acid metabolism. To validate the metabolic similarities and differences, both species were treated with metabolic inhibitors, confirming that electron transport chain activity is not essential in T. congolense. However, the parasite exhibits increased sensitivity to inhibition of mitochondrial pyruvate import, compared to T. brucei. Strikingly, T. congolense exhibited significant resistance to inhibitors of fatty acid synthesis, including a 780-fold higher EC50 for the lipase and fatty acid synthase inhibitor Orlistat, compared to T. brucei. These data highlight that bloodstream form T. congolense diverges from T. brucei in key areas of metabolism, with several features that are intermediate between bloodstream- and insect-stage T. brucei. These results have implications for drug development, mechanisms of drug resistance and host-pathogen interactions.
Project description:Trypanosoma congolense is an African trypanosome that causes serious disease in cattle in Sub-Saharan Africa. The four major life cycle stages of T. congolense can be grown in vitro, which has led to the identification of several cell-surface molecules expressed on the parasite during its transit through the tsetse vector. One of these, glutamic acid/alanine-rich protein (GARP), is the first expressed on procyclic forms in the tsetse midgut and is of particular interest because it replaces the major surface coat molecule of bloodstream forms, the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) that protects the parasite membrane, and is involved in antigenic variation. Unlike VSG, however, the function of GARP is not known, which necessarily limits our understanding of parasite survival in the tsetse. Toward establishing the function of GARP, we report its three-dimensional structure solved by iodide phasing to a resolution of 1.65 ?. An extended helical bundle structure displays an unexpected and significant degree of homology to the core structure of VSG, the only other major surface molecule of trypanosomes to be structurally characterized. Immunofluorescence microscopy and immunoaffinity-tandem mass spectrometry were used in conjunction with monoclonal antibodies to map both non-surface-disposed and surface epitopes. Collectively, these studies enabled us to derive a model describing the orientation and assembly of GARP on the surface of trypanosomes. The data presented here suggest the possible structure-function relationships involved in replacement of the bloodstream form VSG by GARP as trypanosomes differentiate in the tsetse vector after a blood meal.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The tsetse transmitted parasitic flagellate Trypanosoma congolense causes animal African trypanosomosis (AAT) across sub-Saharan Africa. AAT negatively impacts agricultural, economic, nutritional and subsequently, health status of the affected populace. The molecular mechanisms that underlie T. congolense's developmental program within tsetse are largely unknown due to considerable challenges with obtaining sufficient parasite cells to perform molecular studies. METHODS:In this study, we used RNA-seq to profile T. congolense gene expression during development in two distinct tsetse tissues, the cardia and proboscis. Indirect immunofluorescent antibody test (IFA) and confocal laser scanning microscope was used to localize the expression of a putative protein encoded by the hypothetical protein (TcIL3000_0_02370). RESULTS:Consistent with current knowledge, genes coding several variant surface glycoproteins (including metacyclic specific VSGs), and the surface coat protein, congolense epimastigote specific protein, were upregulated in parasites in the proboscis (PB-parasites). Additionally, our results indicate that parasites in tsetse's cardia (C-parasites) and PB employ oxidative phosphorylation and amino acid metabolism for energy. Several genes upregulated in C-parasites encoded receptor-type adenylate cyclases, surface carboxylate transporter family proteins (or PADs), transport proteins, RNA-binding proteins and procyclin isoforms. Gene ontology analysis of products of genes upregulated in C-parasites showed enrichment of terms broadly associated with nucleotides, microtubules, cell membrane and its components, cell signaling, quorum sensing and several transport activities, suggesting that the parasites colonizing the cardia may monitor their environment and regulate their density and movement in this tissue. Additionally, cell surface protein (CSP) encoding genes associated with the Fam50 'GARP', 'iii' and 'i' subfamilies were also significantly upregulated in C-parasites, suggesting that they are important for the long non-dividing trypomastigotes to colonize tsetse's cardia. The putative products of genes that were upregulated in PB-parasites were linked to nucleosomes, cytoplasm and membrane-bound organelles, which suggest that parasites in this niche undergo cell division in line with prior findings. Most of the CSPs upregulated in PB-parasites were hypothetical, thus requiring further functional characterization. Expression of one such hypothetical protein (TcIL3000_0_02370) was analyzed using immunofluorescence and confocal laser scanning microscopy, which together revealed preferential expression of this protein on the entire surface coat of T. congolense parasite stages that colonize G. m. morsitans' proboscis. CONCLUSION:Collectively, our results provide insight into T. congolense gene expression profiles in distinct niches within the tsetse vector. Our results show that the hypothetical protein TcIL3000_0_02370, is expressed on the entire surface of the trypanosomes inhabiting tsetse's proboscis. We discuss our results in terms of their relevance to disease transmission processes.
Project description:Trypanosomes encode a family of proteins known as Major Surface Metalloproteases (MSPs). We have identified six putative MSPs encoded within the partially sequenced T. congolense genome. Phylogenic analysis indicates that T. congolense MSPs belong to five subfamilies that are conserved among African trypanosome species. Molecular modeling, based on the known structure of Leishmania Major GP63, reveals subfamily-specific structural variations around the putative active site despite conservation of overall structure, suggesting that each MSP subfamily has evolved to recognize distinct substrates. We have cloned and purified a protein encoding the amino-terminal domain of the T. congolense homologue TcoMSP-D (most closely related to Leishmania GP63). We detect TcoMSP-D in the serum of T. congolense-infected mice. Mice immunized with the amino-terminal domain of TcoMSP-D generate a persisting IgG1 antibody response. Surprisingly, a low-dose challenge of immunized mice with T. congolense significantly increases susceptibility to infection, indicating that immunity to TcoMSP-D is a factor affecting virulence.
Project description:In the tsetse fly, the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma congolense is covered by a dense layer of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored molecules. These include a protease-resistant surface molecule (PRS), which is expressed by procyclic forms early in infection, and a glutamic acid- and alanine-rich protein (GARP), which appears at later stages. Since neither of these surface antigens is expressed at intermediate stages, we investigated whether a GPI-anchored protein of 50 to 58 kDa, previously detected in procyclic culture forms, might constitute the coat of these parasites. We therefore partially purified the protein from T. congolense Kilifi procyclic forms, obtained an N-terminal amino acid sequence, and identified its gene. Detailed analyses showed that the mature protein consists almost exclusively of 13 heptapeptide repeats (EPGENGT). The protein is densely N glycosylated, with up to 13 high-mannose oligosaccharides ranging from Man(5)GlcNAc(2) to Man(9)GlcNAc(2) linked to the peptide repeats. The lipid moiety of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol is composed of sn-1-stearoyl-2-lyso-glycerol-3-HPO(4)-1-(2-O-acyl)-d-myo-inositol. Heavily glycosylated proteins with similar repeats were subsequently identified in T. congolense Savannah procyclic forms. Collectively, this group of proteins was named T. congolense procyclins to reflect their relationship to the EP and GPEET procyclins of T. brucei. Using an antiserum raised against the EPGENGT repeat, we show that T. congolense procyclins are expressed continuously in the fly midgut and thus form the surface coat of cells that are negative for both PRS and GARP.