Simplified inducible system for Trypanosoma brucei.
ABSTRACT: Nowadays, most reverse genetics approaches in Trypanosoma brucei, a protozoan parasite of medical and veterinary importance, rely on pre-established cell lines. Consequently, inducible experimentation is reduced to a few laboratory strains. Here we described a new transgene expression system based exclusively on endogenous transcription activities and a minimum set of regulatory components that can easily been adapted to different strains. The pTbFIX vectors are designed to contain the sequence of interest under the control of an inducible rRNA promoter along with a constitutive dicistronic unit encoding a nucleus targeted tetracycline repressor and puromycin resistance genes in a tandem "head-to-tail" configuration. Upon doxycycline induction, the system supports regulatable GFP expression (170 to 400 fold) in both bloodstream and procyclic T. brucei forms. Furthermore we have adapted the pTbFIX plasmid to perform RNAi experimentation. Lethal phenotypes, including ?-tubulin and those corresponding to the enolase and clathrin heavy chain genes, were successfully recapitulated in procyclic and bloodstream parasites thus showing the versatility of this new tool.
Project description:Trypanosoma brucei is an extracellular parasite that alternates between an insect vector (procyclic form) and the bloodstream of a mammalian host (bloodstream form). While it was previously reported that mitochondrial release factor 1 (TbMrf1) is essential in cultured procyclic form cells, we demonstrate here that in vitro bloodstream form cells can tolerate the elimination of TbMrf1. Therefore, we explored if this discrepancy is due to the unique bioenergetics of the parasite since procyclic form cells rely on oxidative phosphorylation; whereas bloodstream form cells utilize glycolysis for ATP production and FoF1-ATPase to maintain the essential mitochondrial membrane potential. The observed disruption of intact bloodstream form FoF1-ATPases serves as a proxy to indicate that the translation of its mitochondrially encoded subunit A6 is impaired without TbMrf1. While these null mutants have a decreased mitochondrial membrane potential, they have adapted by increasing their dependence on the electrogenic contributions of the ADP/ATP carrier to maintain the mitochondrial membrane potential above the minimum threshold required for T. brucei viability in vitro. However, this inefficient compensatory mechanism results in avirulent mutants in mice. Finally, the depletion of the codon-independent release factor TbPth4 in the TbMrf1 knockouts further exacerbates the characterized mitchondrial phenotypes.
Project description:Regions 5' of the glycosomal glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (gGAPDH) gene from Trypanosoma brucei were tested for their ability to promote chloramphenicol acetyl-transferase (CAT) expression on reintroduction by electroporation into the parasite. Deletion analysis mapped the gGAPDH promoter to within 403 nts of the start of translation. A transcription initiation site was mapped at around -190 nts from the ATG start codon by RNase protection and by primer extension. The higher expression of gGAPDH in bloodstream T. brucei, compared to procyclic (insect) forms, was largely attributed to differences in promoter activity. The gGAPDH promoter gave rise to relatively high CAT signals upon transfection into bloodstream T. brucei and relatively low signals in procyclic T. brucei, compared with levels resulting from transfection with the procyclic acidic repetitive protein (PARP) promoter. In addition, RNase protection data showed a higher level of gGAPDH primary transcripts in bloodstream. T. brucei. The PARP mini-exon addition region abolished transient CAT expression directed by either the gGAPDH or PARP promoters in bloodstream T. brucei implying that transplicing can be a point of stage-specific gene regulation.
Project description:Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylserine (PS) are ubiquitously expressed and metabolically interconnected glycerophospholipids in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. In Trypanosoma brucei, PE synthesis has been shown to occur mainly via the Kennedy pathway, one of the three routes leading to PE synthesis in eukaryotes, while PS synthesis has not been studied experimentally. We now reveal the importance of T. brucei PS synthase 2 (TbPSS2) and T. brucei PS decarboxylase (TbPSD), two key enzymes involved in aminophospholipid synthesis, for trypanosome viability. By using tetracycline-inducible down-regulation of gene expression and in vivo and in vitro metabolic labeling, we found that TbPSS2 (i) is necessary for normal growth of procyclic trypanosomes, (ii) localizes to the endoplasmic reticulum and (iii) represents the unique route for PS formation in T. brucei. In addition, we identified TbPSD as type I PS decarboxylase in the mitochondrion and found that it is processed proteolytically at a WGSS cleavage site into a heterodimer. Down-regulation of TbPSD expression affected mitochondrial integrity in both procyclic and bloodstream form trypanosomes, decreased ATP production via oxidative phosphorylation in procyclic form and affected parasite growth.
Project description:Elucidating the mechanism of action of trypanocidal compounds is an important step in the development of more efficient drugs against Trypanosoma brucei. In a screening approach using an RNAi library in T. brucei bloodstream forms, we identified a member of the mitochondrial carrier family, TbMCP14, as a prime candidate mediating the action of a group of anti-parasitic choline analogs. Depletion of TbMCP14 by inducible RNAi in both bloodstream and procyclic forms increased resistance of parasites towards the compounds by 7-fold and 3-fold, respectively, compared to uninduced cells. In addition, down-regulation of TbMCP14 protected bloodstream form mitochondria from a drug-induced decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential. Conversely, over-expression of the carrier in procyclic forms increased parasite susceptibility more than 13-fold. Metabolomic analyses of parasites over-expressing TbMCP14 showed increased levels of the proline metabolite, pyrroline-5-carboxylate, suggesting a possible involvement of TbMCP14 in energy production. The generation of TbMCP14 knock-out parasites showed that the carrier is not essential for survival of T. brucei bloodstream forms, but reduced parasite proliferation under standard culture conditions. In contrast, depletion of TbMCP14 in procyclic forms resulted in growth arrest, followed by parasite death. The time point at which parasite proliferation stopped was dependent on the major energy source, i.e. glucose versus proline, in the culture medium. Together with our findings that proline-dependent ATP production in crude mitochondria from TbMCP14-depleted trypanosomes was reduced compared to control mitochondria, the study demonstrates that TbMCP14 is involved in energy production in T. brucei. Since TbMCP14 belongs to a trypanosomatid-specific clade of mitochondrial carrier family proteins showing very poor similarity to mitochondrial carriers of mammals, it may represent an interesting target for drug action or targeting.
Project description:Mitochondrial protein translocation machinery in the kinetoplastid parasites, like Trypanosoma brucei, has been characterized poorly. In T. brucei genome database, one homolog for a protein translocator of mitochondrial inner membrane (Tim) has been found, which is closely related to Tim17 from other species. The T. brucei Tim17 (TbTim17) has a molecular mass 16.2kDa and it possesses four characteristic transmembrane domains. The protein is localized in the mitochondrial inner membrane. The level of TbTim17 protein is 6-7-fold higher in the procyclic form that has a fully active mitochondrion, than in the mammalian bloodstream form of T. brucei, where many of the mitochondrial activities are suppressed. Knockdown of TbTim17 expression by RNAi caused a cessation of cell growth in the procyclic form and reduced growth rate in the bloodstream form. Depletion of TbTim17 decreased mitochondrial membrane potential more in the procyclic than bloodstream form. However, TbTim17 knockdown reduced the expression level of several nuclear encoded mitochondrial proteins in both the forms. Furthermore, import of presequence containing nuclear encoded mitochondrial proteins was significantly reduced in TbTim17 depleted mitochondria of the procyclic as well as the bloodstream form, confirming that TbTim17 is critical for mitochondrial protein import in both developmental forms. Together, these show that TbTim17 is the translocator of nuclear encoded mitochondrial proteins and its expression is regulated according to mitochondrial activities in T. brucei.
Project description:The African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei, maintains an integral link between cell cycle regulation and differentiation during its intricate life cycle. Whilst extensive changes in phosphorylation have been documented between the mammalian bloodstream form and the insect procyclic form, relatively little is known about the parasite's protein kinases (PKs) involved in the control of cellular proliferation and differentiation. To address this, a T. brucei kinome-wide RNAi cell line library was generated, allowing independent inducible knockdown of each of the parasite's 190 predicted protein kinases. Screening of this library using a cell viability assay identified ?42 PKs that are required for normal bloodstream form proliferation in culture. A secondary screen identified 24 PKs whose RNAi-mediated depletion resulted in a variety of cell cycle defects including in G1/S, kinetoplast replication/segregation, mitosis and cytokinesis, 15 of which are novel cell cycle regulators. A further screen identified for the first time two PKs, named repressor of differentiation kinase (RDK1 and RDK2), depletion of which promoted bloodstream to procyclic form differentiation. RDK1 is a membrane-associated STE11-like PK, whilst RDK2 is a NEK PK that is essential for parasite proliferation. RDK1 acts in conjunction with the PTP1/PIP39 phosphatase cascade to block uncontrolled bloodstream to procyclic form differentiation, whilst RDK2 is a PK whose depletion efficiently induces differentiation in the absence of known triggers. Thus, the RNAi kinome library provides a valuable asset for functional analysis of cell signalling pathways in African trypanosomes as well as drug target identification and validation.
Project description:In nearly all eukaryotes, cellular differentiation is governed by changes in transcription, and stabilized by chromatin and DNA modification. Gene expression control in the pathogen Trypanosoma brucei, in contrast, relies almost exclusively on post-transcriptional mechanisms, so RNA binding proteins must assume the burden that is usually borne by transcription factors. T. brucei multiply in the blood of mammals as bloodstream forms, and in the midgut of Tsetse flies as procyclic forms. We show here that a single RNA-binding protein, RBP10, promotes the bloodstream-form trypanosome differentiation state. Depletion of RBP10 from bloodstream-form trypanosomes gives cells that can grow only as procyclic forms; conversely, expression of RBP10 in procyclic forms converts them to bloodstream forms. RBP10 binds to procyclic-specific mRNAs containing an UAUUUUUU motif, targeting them for translation repression and destruction. Products of RBP10 target mRNAs include not only the major procyclic surface protein and enzymes of energy metabolism, but also protein kinases and stage-specific RNA-binding proteins: this suggests that alterations in RBP10 trigger a regulatory cascade.
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 survival of Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of Sleeping Sickness and Nagana, is facilitated by the expression of a dense surface coat of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins in both its mammalian and tsetse fly hosts. We have characterized T. brucei GPI8, the gene encoding the catalytic subunit of the GPI:protein transamidase complex that adds preformed GPI anchors onto nascent polypeptides. Deletion of GPI8 (to give Deltagpi8) resulted in the absence of GPI-anchored proteins from the cell surface of procyclic form trypanosomes and accumulation of a pool of non-protein-linked GPI molecules, some of which are surface located. Procyclic Deltagpi8, while viable in culture, were unable to establish infections in the tsetse midgut, confirming that GPI-anchored proteins are essential for insect-parasite interactions. Applying specific inducible GPI8 RNAi with bloodstream form parasites resulted in accumulation of unanchored variant surface glycoprotein and cell death with a defined multinuclear, multikinetoplast, and multiflagellar phenotype indicative of a block in cytokinesis. These data show that GPI-anchored proteins are essential for the viability of bloodstream form trypanosomes even in the absence of immune challenge and imply that GPI8 is important for proper cell cycle progression.
Project description:Cy3 and Cy5 direct labelled RNA from Bloodstream MiTat1.1 trypanosomes and Procyclic 427 Lister were hybridized onto JCVI Trypanosoma brucei oligoarrays (version2). Procyclic RNA were used as control for data analysis.