The evolution of TNF signaling in platyhelminths suggests the cooptation of TNF receptor in the host-parasite interplay.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:The TNF signaling pathway is involved in the regulation of many cellular processes (such as apoptosis and cell proliferation). Previous reports indicated the effect of human TNF-? on metabolism, physiology, gene expression and protein phosphorylation of the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni and suggested that its TNF receptor was responsible for this response. The lack of an endogenous TNF ligand reinforced the idea of the use of an exogenous ligand, but also opens the possibility that the receptor actually binds a non-canonical ligand, as observed for NGFRs. METHODS:To obtain a more comprehensive view, we analyzed platyhelminth genomes deposited in the Wormbase ParaSite database to investigate the presence of TNF receptors and their respective ligands. Using different bioinformatics approaches, such as HMMer and BLAST search tools we identified and characterized the sequence of TNF receptors and ligand homologs. We also used bioinformatics resources for the identification of conserved protein domains and Bayesian inference for phylogenetic analysis. RESULTS:Our analyses indicate the presence of 31 TNF receptors in 30 platyhelminth species. All platyhelminths display a single TNF receptor, and all are structurally remarkably similar to NGFR. It suggests no events of duplication and diversification occurred in this phylum, with the exception of a single species-specific duplication. Interestingly, we also identified TNF ligand homologs in five species of free-living platyhelminths. CONCLUSIONS:These results suggest that the TNF receptor from platyhelminths may be able to bind canonical TNF ligands, thus strengthening the idea that these receptors are able to bind human TNF-?. This also raises the hypothesis that an endogenous ligand was substituted by the host ligand in parasitic platyhelminths. Moreover, our analysis indicates that death domains (DD) may be present in the intracellular region of most platyhelminth TNF receptors, thus pointing to a previously unreported apoptotic action of such receptors in platyhelminths. Our data highlight the idea that host-parasite crosstalk using the TNF pathway may be widespread in parasitic platyhelminths to mediate apoptotic responses. This opens up a new hypothesis to uncover what might be an important component to understand platyhelminth infections.
Project description:In all metazoa, the response of cells to molecular stimuli from their environment represents a fundamental principle of regulatory processes controlling cell growth and differentiation. Among the membrane-linked receptors mediating extracellular communication processes are integrin receptors. Besides managing adhesion to the extracellular matrix or to other cells, they arrange information flow into the cells by activating intracellular signaling pathways often acting synergistically through cooperation with growth factor receptors. Although a wealth of information exists on integrins in different model organisms, there is a big gap of knowledge for platyhelminths. Here we report on the in silico detection and reconstruction of ? and ? integrins from free-living and parasitic platyhelminths, which according to structural and phylogenetic analyses form specific clades separate from each other and from further metazoan integrins. As representative orthologs of parasitic platyhelminths we have cloned one beta-integrin (Sm?-Int1) and four alpha-integrins (Sm?-Int1 - Sm?-Int4) from Schistosoma mansoni; they were characterized by molecular and biochemical analyses. Evidence is provided that Sm?-Int1 interacts and co-localizes in the reproductive organs with known schistosome cellular tyrosine kinases (CTKs), of which the Syk kinase SmTK4 appeared to be the strongest interaction partner as shown by yeast two-hybrid analyses and coimmunoprecipitation experiments. By a novel RNAi approach with adult schistosomes in vitro we demonstrate for the first time multinucleated oocytes in treated females, indicating a decisive role Sm?-Int1 during oogenesis as phenotypically analyzed by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). Our findings provide a first comprehensive overview about platyhelminth integrins, of which the parasite group exhibits unique features allowing a clear distinction from the free-living groups. Furthermore, we shed first lights on the functions of integrins in a trematode model parasite, revealing the complexity of molecular processes involved in its reproductive biology, which may be representative for other platyhelminths.
Project description:Nuclear receptors are ligand-activated transcription factors capable of regulating the expression of complex gene networks. The family includes seven subfamilies of proteins with a wide phylogenetic distribution. A novel subfamily with two DNA-binding domains (2DBDs) has been reported in Schistosoma mansoni (Platyhelminth, Trematoda). This work describes the cDNA cloning and bioinformatics analysis of Eg2DBD?, a 2DBD nuclear receptor isoform from the parasite Echinococcus granulosus (Platyhelminth, Cestoda). The Eg2DBD? gene coding domain structure was analysed. Although two additional 2DBD nuclear receptors are reported in the parasite database GeneDB, they are unlikely to be expressed in the larval stage. Phylogenetic relationships between these atypical proteins from different cestodes are also analysed including S. mansoni 2DBD nuclear receptors. The presence of two DNA binding domains confers particular interest to these nuclear receptors, not only concerning their function but to the development of new antihelminthic drugs.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The cestode Echinococcus granulosus--the agent of cystic echinococcosis, a zoonosis affecting humans and domestic animals worldwide--is an excellent model for the study of host-parasite cross-talk that interfaces with two mammalian hosts. To develop the molecular analysis of these interactions, we carried out an EST survey of E. granulosus larval stages. We report the salient features of this study with a focus on genes reflecting physiological adaptations of different parasite stages.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>We generated ~10,000 ESTs from two sets of full-length enriched libraries (derived from oligo-capped and trans-spliced cDNAs) prepared with three parasite materials: hydatid cyst wall, larval worms (protoscoleces), and pepsin/H(+)-activated protoscoleces. The ESTs were clustered into 2700 distinct gene products. In the context of the biology of E. granulosus, our analyses reveal: (i) a diverse group of abundant long non-protein coding transcripts showing homology to a middle repetitive element (EgBRep) that could either be active molecular species or represent precursors of small RNAs (like piRNAs); (ii) an up-regulation of fermentative pathways in the tissue of the cyst wall; (iii) highly expressed thiol- and selenol-dependent antioxidant enzyme targets of thioredoxin glutathione reductase, the functional hub of redox metabolism in parasitic flatworms; (iv) candidate apomucins for the external layer of the tissue-dwelling hydatid cyst, a mucin-rich structure that is critical for survival in the intermediate host; (v) a set of tetraspanins, a protein family that appears to have expanded in the cestode lineage; and (vi) a set of platyhelminth-specific gene products that may offer targets for novel pan-platyhelminth drug development.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>This survey has greatly increased the quality and the quantity of the molecular information on E. granulosus and constitutes a valuable resource for gene prediction on the parasite genome and for further genomic and proteomic analyses focused on cestodes and platyhelminths.
Project description:Nuclear receptors (NRs) belong to a large protein superfamily that are important transcriptional modulators in metazoans. Parasitic helminths include parasitic worms from the Lophotrochozoa (Platyhelminths) and Ecdysozoa (Nematoda). NRs in parasitic helminths diverged into two different evolutionary lineages. NRs in parasitic Platyhelminths have orthologues in Deuterostomes, in arthropods or both with a feature of extensive gene loss and gene duplication within different gene groups. NRs in parasitic Nematoda follow the nematode evolutionary lineage with a feature of multiple duplication of SupNRs and gene loss.
Project description:By recognizing members in the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor superfamily, TNF ligand proteins function as extracellular cytokines to activate various signaling pathways involved in inflammation, proliferation, and apoptosis. Most ligands in TNF superfamily are trimeric and can simultaneously bind to three receptors on cell surfaces. It has been experimentally observed that the formation of these molecular complexes further triggers the oligomerization of TNF receptors, which in turn regulate the intracellular signaling processes by providing transient compartmentalization in the membrane proximal regions of cytoplasm. In order to decode the molecular mechanisms of oligomerization in TNF receptor superfamily, we developed a new computational method that can physically simulate the spatial-temporal process of binding between TNF ligands and their receptors. The simulations show that the TNF receptors can be organized into hexagonal oligomers. The formation of this spatial pattern is highly dependent not only on the molecular properties such as the affinities of trans and cis binding, but also on the cellular factors such as the concentration of TNF ligands in the extracellular area or the density of TNF receptors on cell surfaces. Moreover, our model suggests that if TNF receptors are pre-organized into dimers before ligand binding, these lateral interactions between receptor monomers can play a positive role in stabilizing the ligand-receptor interactions, as well as in regulating the kinetics of receptor oligomerization. Altogether, this method throws lights on the mechanisms of TNF ligand-receptor interactions in cellular environments.
Project description:Schistosomes are blood-dwelling trematodes with global impact on human and animal health. Because medical treatment is currently based on a single drug, praziquantel, there is urgent need for the development of alternative control strategies. The Schistosoma mansoni genome project provides a platform to study and connect the genetic repertoire of schistosomes to specific biological functions essential for successful parasitism. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) form the largest superfamily of transmembrane receptors throughout the Eumetazoan phyla, including platyhelminths. Due to their involvement in diverse biological processes, their pharmacological importance, and proven druggability, GPCRs are promising targets for new anthelmintics. However, to identify candidate receptors, a more detailed understanding of the roles of GPCR signalling in schistosome biology is essential. An updated phylogenetic analysis of the S. mansoni GPCR genome (GPCRome) is presented, facilitated by updated genome data that allowed a more precise annotation of GPCRs. Additionally, we review the current knowledge on GPCR signalling in this parasite and provide new insights into the potential roles of GPCRs in schistosome reproduction based on the findings of a recent tissue-specific transcriptomic study in paired and unpaired S. mansoni. According to the current analysis, GPCRs contribute to gonad-specific functions but also to nongonad, pairing-dependent processes. The latter may regulate gonad-unrelated functions during the multifaceted male-female interaction. Finally, we compare the schistosome GPCRome to that of another parasitic trematode, Fasciola, and discuss the importance of GPCRs to basic and applied research. Phylogenetic analyses display GPCR diversity in free-living and parasitic platyhelminths and suggest diverse functions in schistosomes. Although their roles need to be substantiated by functional studies in the future, the data support the selection of GPCR candidates for basic and applied studies, invigorating the exploitation of this important receptor class for drug discovery against schistosomes but also other trematodes.
Project description:Nuclear receptors (NRs) belong to a large protein superfamily which includes intracellular receptors for secreted hydrophobic signal molecules, such as steroid hormones and thyroid hormones. They regulate development and reproduction in metazoans by binding to the promoter region of their target gene to activate or repress mRNA synthesis. Isolation and characterization of NRs in the parasitic trematode Schistosoma mansoni identified two homologues of mammalian thyroid receptor (TR). This was the first known protostome exhibiting TR homologues. Three novel NRs each possess a novel set of two DNA binding domains (DBD) in tandem with a ligand binding domain (LBD) (2DBD-NRs) isolated in Schistosoma mansoni revealed a novel NR modular structure: A/B-DBD-DBD-hinge-LBD. Full length cDNA of several NRs have been isolated and studied in the parasitic trematodes S. mansoni, S. japonicum and in the cestode Echinococcus multilocularis. The genome of the blood flukes S. mansoni, S. japonicum and S. haematobium, the liver fluke Clonorchis sinensis and the cestode Echinococcus multilocularis have been sequenced. Study of the NR complement in parasitic Platyhelminths will help us to understand the role of NRs in regulation of their development and understand the evolution of NR in animals.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Cestoda is a class of endoparasitic worms in the flatworm phylum (Platyhelminthes). During the course of their evolution cestodes have evolved some interesting aspects, such as their increased reproductive capacity. In this sense, they have serial repetition of their reproductive organs in the adult stage, which is often associated with external segmentation in a developmental process called strobilation. However, the molecular basis of strobilation is poorly understood. To assess this issue, an evolutionary comparative study among strobilated and non-strobilated flatworm species was conducted to identify genes and proteins related to the strobilation process. RESULTS:We compared the genomic content of 10 parasitic platyhelminth species; five from cestode species, representing strobilated parasitic platyhelminths, and five from trematode species, representing non-strobilated parasitic platyhelminths. This dataset was used to identify 1813 genes with orthologues that are present in all cestode (strobilated) species, but absent from at least one trematode (non-strobilated) species. Development-related genes, along with genes of unknown function (UF), were then selected based on their transcriptional profiles, resulting in a total of 34 genes that were differentially expressed between the larval (pre-strobilation) and adult (strobilated) stages in at least one cestode species. These 34 genes were then assumed to be strobilation related; they included 12 encoding proteins of known function, with 6 related to the Wnt, TGF-?/BMP, or G-protein coupled receptor signaling pathways; and 22 encoding UF proteins. In order to assign function to at least some of the UF genes/proteins, a global gene co-expression analysis was performed for the cestode species Echinococcus multilocularis. This resulted in eight UF genes/proteins being predicted as related to developmental, reproductive, vesicle transport, or signaling processes. CONCLUSIONS:Overall, the described in silico data provided evidence of the involvement of 34 genes/proteins and at least 3 developmental pathways in the cestode strobilation process. These results highlight on the molecular mechanisms and evolution of the cestode strobilation process, and point to several interesting proteins as potential developmental markers and/or targets for the development of novel antihelminthic drugs.
Project description:The phylum Platyhelminthes (flatworms) contains an important group of bilaterian organisms responsible for many debilitating and chronic infectious diseases of human and animal populations inhabiting the planet today. In addition to their biomedical and veterinary relevance, some platyhelminths are also frequently used models for understanding tissue regeneration and stem cell biology. Therefore, the molecular (genetic and epigenetic) characteristics that underlie trophic specialism, pathogenicity or developmental maturation are likely to be pivotal in our continued studies of this important metazoan group. Indeed, in contrast to earlier studies that failed to detect evidence of cytosine or adenine methylation in parasitic flatworm taxa, our laboratory has recently defined a critical role for cytosine methylation in Schistosoma mansoni oviposition, egg maturation and ovarian development. Thus, in order to identify whether this epigenetic modification features in other platyhelminth species or is a novelty of S. mansoni, we conducted a study simultaneously surveying for DNA methylation machinery components and DNA methylation marks throughout the phylum using both parasitic and non-parasitic representatives.Firstly, using both S. mansoni DNA methyltransferase 2 (SmDNMT2) and methyl-CpG binding domain protein (SmMBD) as query sequences, we illustrate that essential DNA methylation machinery components are well conserved throughout the phylum. Secondly, using both molecular (methylation specific amplification polymorphism, MSAP) and immunological (enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay, ELISA) methodologies, we demonstrate that representative species (Echinococcus multilocularis, Protopolystoma xenopodis, Schistosoma haematobium, Schistosoma japonicum, Fasciola hepatica and Polycelis nigra) within all four platyhelminth classes (Cestoda, Monogenea, Trematoda and 'Turbellaria') contain methylated cytosines within their genome compartments.Collectively, these findings provide the first direct evidence for a functionally conserved and enzymatically active DNA methylation system throughout the Platyhelminthes. Defining how this epigenetic feature shapes phenotypic diversity and development within the phylum represents an exciting new area of metazoan biology.
Project description:Tumor necrosis factor is a major pro-inflammatory cytokine which triggers various physiological consequences by binding to and trimerizing its receptors, and has been the single most sought-after drug target for intervening autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. However, current TNF-? blockers, including soluble receptor-Fc fusion and therapeutic antibodies, are all dimeric in structure, whereas their target TNF-? itself is homotrimeric in nature. Here we describe the development of a trivalent soluble TNF receptor and show that it is a more potent than the dimeric TNF receptor decoys in inhibiting TNF-? signaling both in vitro and in vivo. The process involves gene fusion between a soluble receptor TNFRII with a ligand binding domain and a trimerization tag from the C-propeptide of human collagen (Trimer-Tag), which is capable of self-assembly into a covalently linked trimer. We show that the homotrimeric soluble TNF receptor (TNFRII-Trimer) produced with such method is more potent in ligand binding kinetics and cell based bioassays, as well as more efficacious in attenuating collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in a mouse model than its dimeric TNFRII-Fc counterpart. Thus, this work demonstrates the proof of concept of Trimer-Tag and provides a new platform for rational designs of next generation biologic drugs.