Killer yeasts exert anti-plasmodial activities against the malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei in the vector mosquito Anopheles stephensi and in mice.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Wickerhamomyces anomalus is a yeast associated with different insects including mosquitoes, where it is proposed to be involved in symbiotic relationships with hosts. Different symbiotic strains of W. anomalus display a killer phenotype mediated by protein toxins with broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities. In particular, a killer toxin purified from a W. anomalus strain (WaF17.12), previously isolated from the malaria vector mosquito Anopheles stephensi, has shown strong in vitro anti-plasmodial activity against early sporogonic stages of the murine malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei. RESULTS:Here, we provide evidence that WaF17.12 cultures, properly stimulated to induce the expression of the killer toxin, can directly affect in vitro P. berghei early sporogonic stages, causing membrane damage and parasite death. Moreover, we demonstrated by in vivo studies that mosquito dietary supplementation with activated WaF17.12 cells interfere with ookinete development in the midgut of An. stephensi. Besides the anti-sporogonic action of WaF17.12, an inhibitory effect of purified WaF17.12-killer toxin was observed on erythrocytic stages of P. berghei, with a consequent reduction of parasitaemia in mice. The preliminary safety tests on murine cell lines showed no side effects. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings demonstrate the anti-plasmodial activity of WaF17.12 against different developmental stages of P. berghei. New studies on P. falciparum are needed to evaluate the use of killer yeasts as innovative tools in the symbiotic control of malaria.
Project description:The yeast Wickerhamomyces anomalus has several applications in the food industry due to its antimicrobial potential and wide range of biotechnological properties. In particular, a specific strain of Wickerhamomyces anomalus isolated from the malaria mosquito Anopheles stephensi, namely WaF17.12, was reported to secrete a killer toxin with strong anti-plasmodial effect on different developmental stages of Plasmodium berghei; therefore, we propose its use in the symbiotic control of malaria. In this study, we focused on the identification/characterization of the protein toxin responsible for the observed antimicrobial activity of the yeast. For this purpose, the culture medium of the killer yeast strain WaF17.12 was processed by means of lateral flow filtration, anion exchange and gel filtration chromatography, immunometric methods, and eventually analyzed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Based on this concerted approach, we identified a protein with a molecular weight of approximately 140 kDa and limited electrophoretic mobility, corresponding to a high molecular weight ?-glucosidase, as confirmed by activity tests in the presence of specific inhibitors.
Project description:The yeast Wickerhamomyces anomalus has been investigated for several years for its wide biotechnological potential, especially for applications in the food industry. Specifically, the antimicrobial activity of this yeast, associated with the production of Killer Toxins (KTs), has attracted a great deal of attention. The strains of W. anomalus able to produce KTs, called "killer" yeasts, have been shown to be highly competitive in the environment. Different W. anomalus strains have been isolated from diverse habitats and recently even from insects. In the malaria mosquito vector Anopheles stephensi these yeasts have been detected in the midgut and gonads. Here we show that the strain of W. anomalus isolated from An. stephensi, namely WaF17.12, is a killer yeast able to produce a KT in a cell-free medium (in vitro) as well as in the mosquito body (in vivo). We showed a constant production of WaF17.12-KT over time, after stimulation of toxin secretion in yeast cultures and reintroduction of the activated cells into the mosquito through the diet. Furthermore, the antimicrobial activity of WaF17.12-KT has been demonstrated in vitro against sensitive microbes, showing that strain WaF17.12 releases a functional toxin. The mosquito-associated yeast WaF17.12 thus possesses an antimicrobial activity, which makes this yeast worthy of further investigations, in view of its potential as an agent for the symbiotic control of malaria.
Project description:Mosquitoes infected with malaria parasites have demonstrated altered behaviour that may increase the probability of parasite transmission. Here, we examine the responses of the olfactory system in Plasmodium falciparum infected Anopheles gambiae, Plasmodium berghei infected Anopheles stephensi, and P. berghei infected An. gambiae. Infected and uninfected mosquitoes showed differential responses to compounds in human odour using electroantennography coupled with gas chromatography (GC-EAG), with 16 peaks triggering responses only in malaria-infected mosquitoes (at oocyst, sporozoite or both stages). A selection of key compounds were examined with EAG, and responses showed differences in the detection thresholds of infected and uninfected mosquitoes to compounds including lactic acid, tetradecanoic acid and benzothiazole, suggesting that the changes in sensitivity may be the reason for differential attraction and biting at the oocyst and sporozoite stages. Importantly, the different cross-species comparisons showed varying sensitivities to compounds, with P. falciparum infected An. gambiae differing from P. berghei infected An. stephensi, and P. berghei infected An. gambiae more similar to the P. berghei infected An. stephensi. These differences in sensitivity may reflect long-standing evolutionary relationships between specific Plasmodium and Anopheles species combinations. This highlights the importance of examining different species interactions in depth to fully understand the impact of malaria infection on mosquito olfactory behaviour.
Project description:The sporogonic stage of the life cycle of Plasmodium spp., the causative agents of malaria, occurs inside the parasite's mosquito vector, where a process of fertilization, meiosis, and mitotic divisions culminates in the generation of large numbers of mammalian-infective sporozoites. Efforts to cultivate Plasmodium mosquito stages in vitro have proved challenging and yielded only moderate success. Here, we describe a methodology that simplifies the in vitro screening of much-needed transmission-blocking (TB) compounds employing a bioluminescence-based method to monitor the in vitro development of sporogonic stages of the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei Our proof-of-principle assessment of the in vitro TB activity of several commonly used antimalarial compounds identified cycloheximide, thiostrepton, and atovaquone as the most active compounds against the parasite's sporogonic stages. The TB activity of these compounds was further confirmed by in vivo studies that validated our newly developed in vitro approach to TB compound screening.
Project description:Malaria is a life-threatening infectious disease caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium, affecting more than 200 million people worldwide every year and leading to about a half million deaths. Malaria parasites of humans have evolved resistance to all current antimalarial drugs, urging for the discovery of new effective compounds. Given that the inhibition of deoxyuridine triphosphatase of Plasmodium falciparum (PfdUTPase) induces wrong insertions in plasmodial DNA and consequently leading the parasite to death, this enzyme is considered an attractive antimalarial drug target. Using a combi-QSAR (quantitative structure-activity relationship) approach followed by virtual screening and in vitro experimental evaluation, we report herein the discovery of novel chemical scaffolds with in vitro potency against asexual blood stages of both P. falciparum multidrug-resistant and sensitive strains and against sporogonic development of P. berghei. We developed 2D- and 3D-QSAR models using a series of nucleosides reported in the literature as PfdUTPase inhibitors. The best models were combined in a consensus approach and used for virtual screening of the ChemBridge database, leading to the identification of five new virtual PfdUTPase inhibitors. Further in vitro testing on P. falciparum multidrug-resistant (W2) and sensitive (3D7) parasites showed that compounds LabMol-144 and LabMol-146 demonstrated fair activity against both strains and presented good selectivity versus mammalian cells. In addition, LabMol-144 showed good in vitro inhibition of P. berghei ookinete formation, demonstrating that hit-to-lead optimization based on this compound may also lead to new antimalarials with transmission blocking activity.
Project description:A new generation of strategies is evolving that aim to block malaria transmission by employing genetically modified vectors or mosquito pathogens or symbionts that express anti-parasite molecules. Whilst transgenic technologies have advanced rapidly, there is still a paucity of effector molecules with potent anti-malaria activity whose expression does not cause detrimental effects on mosquito fitness. Our objective was to examine a wide range of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) for their toxic effects on Plasmodium and anopheline mosquitoes. Specifically targeting early sporogonic stages, we initially screened AMPs for toxicity against a mosquito cell line and P. berghei ookinetes. Promising candidate AMPs were fed to mosquitoes to monitor adverse fitness effects, and their efficacy in blocking rodent malaria infection in Anopheles stephensi was assessed. This was followed by tests to determine their activity against P. falciparum in An. gambiae, initially using laboratory cultures to infect mosquitoes, then culminating in preliminary assays in the field using gametocytes and mosquitoes collected from the same area in Mali, West Africa. From a range of 33 molecules, six AMPs able to block Plasmodium development were identified: Anoplin, Duramycin, Mastoparan X, Melittin, TP10 and Vida3. With the exception of Anoplin and Mastoparan X, these AMPs were also toxic to an An. gambiae cell line at a concentration of 25 µM. However, when tested in mosquito blood feeds, they did not reduce mosquito longevity or egg production at concentrations of 50 µM. Peptides effective against cultured ookinetes were less effective when tested in vivo and differences in efficacy against P. berghei and P. falciparum were seen. From the range of molecules tested, the majority of effective AMPs were derived from bee/wasp venoms.
Project description:Coendemicity between the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Plasmodium parasites, the causative agents of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and malaria, respectively, occurs in several regions around the world. Although the impact of the interaction between these two organisms is not well understood, it is thought that the outcome of either disease may be negatively influenced by coinfection. Therefore, it is important to understand how current first-line antiretroviral therapies (ART) might impact Plasmodium infection in these regions. Here, we describe the effect of 18 antiretroviral compounds and of first-line ART on the blood and sporogonic stages of Plasmodium berghei in vitro and in vivo. We show that the combination zidovudine + lamivudine + lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r), employed as first-line HIV treatment in the field, has a strong inhibitory activity on the sporogonic stages of P. berghei and that several non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) have a moderate effect on this stage of the parasite's life cycle. Our results expose the effect of current first-line ART on Plasmodium infection and identify potential alternative therapies for HIV/AIDS that might impact malaria transmission.
Project description:K+ channels are integral membrane proteins, which contribute to maintain vital parameters such as the cellular membrane potential and cell volume. Malaria parasites encode two K+ channel homologues, Kch1 and Kch2, which are well-conserved among members of the Plasmodium genus. In the rodent malaria parasite P. berghei, the functional significance of K+ channel homologue PbKch2 was studied using targeted gene knock-out. The knockout parasites were characterized in a mouse model in terms of growth-kinetics and infectivity in the mosquito vector. Furthermore, using a tracer-uptake technique with 86Rb+ as a K+ congener, the K+ transporting properties of the knockout parasites were assessed. RESULTS:Genetic disruption of Kch2 did not grossly affect the phenotype in terms of asexual replication and pathogenicity in a mouse model. In contrast to Kch1-null parasites, Kch2-null parasites were fully capable of forming oocysts in female Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes. 86Rb+ uptake in Kch2-deficient blood-stage P. berghei parasites (Kch2-null) did not differ from that of wild-type (WT) parasites. About two-thirds of the 86Rb+ uptake in WT and in Kch2-null parasites could be inhibited by K+ channel blockers and could be inferred to the presence of functional Kch1 in Kch2 knockout parasites. Kch2 is therefore not required for transport of K+ in P. berghei and is not essential to mosquito-stage sporogonic development of the parasite.
Project description:The midgut environment of anopheline mosquitoes plays an important role in the development of the malaria parasite. Using genetic manipulation of anopheline mosquitoes to change the environment in the mosquito midgut may inhibit development of the malaria parasite, thus blocking malaria transmission. Here we generate transgenic Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes that express the C-type lectin CEL-III from the sea cucumber, Cucumaria echinata, in a midgut-specific manner. CEL-III has strong and rapid hemolytic activity toward human and rat erythrocytes in the presence of serum. Importantly, CEL-III binds to ookinetes, leading to strong inhibition of ookinete formation in vitro with an IC(50) of 15 nM. Thus, CEL-III exhibits not only hemolytic activity but also cytotoxicity toward ookinetes. In these transgenic mosquitoes, sporogonic development of Plasmodium berghei is severely impaired. Moderate, but significant inhibition was found against Plasmodium falciparum. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of stably engineered anophelines that affect the Plasmodium transmission dynamics of human malaria. Although our laboratory-based research does not have immediate applications to block natural malaria transmission, these findings have significant implications for the generation of refractory mosquitoes to all species of human Plasmodium and elucidation of mosquito-parasite interactions.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The transmissible forms of Plasmodium parasites result from a process of sporogony that takes place inside their obligatory mosquito vector and culminates in the formation of mammalian-infective parasite forms. Ivermectin is a member of the avermectin family of endectocides, which has been proposed to inhibit malaria transmission due its insecticidal effect. However, it remains unclear whether ivermectin also exerts a direct action on the parasite's blood and transmission stages. METHODS:We employed a rodent model of infection to assess the impact of ivermectin treatment on P. berghei asexual and sexual blood forms in vivo. We then made use of a newly established luminescence-based methodology to evaluate the activity of ivermectin and other avermectins against the sporogonic stages of P. berghei parasites in vitro independent of their role on mosquito physiology. RESULTS:Our results show that whereas ivermectin does not affect the parasite's parasitemia, gametocytemia or exflagellation in the mammalian host, several members of the avermectin family of compounds exert a strong inhibitory effect on the generation and development of P. berghei oocysts. CONCLUSIONS:Our results shed light on the action of avermectins against Plasmodium transmission stages and highlight the potential of these compounds to help prevent the spread of malaria.