BackgroundDNA gyrase, an enzyme once thought to be unique to bacteria, is also found in some eukaryotic plastids including the apicoplast of Apicomplexa such as Plasmodium falciparum and Toxoplasma gondii which are important disease-causing organisms. DNA gyrase is an excellent target for antibacterial drugs, yet such antibacterials seem ineffective against Apicomplexa. Characterisation of the apicoplast gyrases would be a useful step towards understanding why this should be so. While purification of active apicoplast gyrase has proved impossible to date, in silico analyses have allowed us to discover differences in the apicoplast proteins. The resulting predicted structural and functional differences will be a first step towards development of apicoplast-gyrase specific inhibitors.ResultsWe have carried out sequence analysis and structural predictions of the enzymes from the two species and find that P. falciparum gyrase lacks a GyrA box, but T. gondii may retain one. All proteins contained signal/transport peptides for localization to the apicoplast but T. gondii Gyrase B protein lacks the expected hydrophobic region. The most significant difference is in the GyrA C-terminal domain: While the cores of the proteins, including DNA binding and cleavage regions are essentially unchanged, both apicoplast gyrase A proteins have C-terminal domains that are significantly larger than bacterial counterparts and are predicted to have different structures.ConclusionThe apicoplast gyrases differ significantly from bacterial gyrases while retaining similar core domains. T. gondii Gyrase B may have an unusual or inefficient mechanism of localisation to the apicoplast. P.falciparum gyrase, lacks a GyrA box and is therefore likely to be inefficient in DNA supercoiling. The C-terminal domains of both apicoplast Gyrase A proteins diverge significantly from the bacterial proteins. We predict that an additional structural element is present in the C-terminal domain of both apicoplast Gyrase A proteins, including the possibility of a ß-pinwheel with a non-canonical number of blades. These differences undoubtedly will affect the DNA supercoiling mechanism and have perhaps evolved to compensate for the lack of Topoisomerase IV in the apicoplast. These data will be useful first step towards further characterisation of and development of inhibitors for apicoplast gyrases.
Toxoplasma gondii is recognized as an opportunistic human pathogen with a worldwide distribution. Development of effective vaccines is considered the only ideal way to control T. gondii infection. However, only one live vaccine is commercially available for use in sheep and goats. Therefore, the identification of more effective antigenic proteins is very important. In this study, we identified a novel putative calcium-dependent protein kinase of T. gondii, TgCDPK6, and further analyzed its potential antigenicity using a bioinformatic approach. The physical and chemical characteristics, transmembrane domain, epitopes, advanced structure, and functional sites of TgCDPK6 were predicted by multiple bioinformatic approaches. Twenty-six post-translational modification sites were identified in the protein. The secondary structure showed that 58.35% amino acids of TgCDPK6 are exposed to the solvent interface, and the high hydrophilic domains were distributed in amino acid positions 21-59, 68-81, 156-205, 245-271, 280-294, 297-324, 334-356, 367-393, 474-498, and 543-553. The advanced structure of TgCDPK6 was developed by a homology modeling method and was validated by PROCHECK, which showed that most amino acid residues were in the most favored regions. Using these analyses, 10 potential epitopes were predicted. The results indicated that TgCDPK6 could be a vaccine candidate antigen against T. gondii.
Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping studies have been integral in identifying and understanding virulence mechanisms in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Here, we interrogate a different phenotype by mapping sinefungin (SNF) drug resistance in the genetic cross between type 2 ME49-FUDRR and type 10 VAND-SNFR. The genetic map of this cross was generated by whole-genome sequencing of the progeny and subsequent identification of SNPs inherited from the parents. Based on this high density genetic map, we were able to pin point the sinefungin resistance phenotype to one significant locus on chromosome IX. Within this locus, a single non-synonymous SNP (nsSNP) resulting in an early stop codon in the TGVAND_290860 gene was identified occurring only in the sinefungin resistant progeny. Using CRISPR/CAS9 we were able to confirm that targeted disruption of TGVAND_290860 renders parasites sinefungin resistant. Because disruption of the SNR1 gene confers resistance, we also show that it can be used as a negative selectable marker to insert either a positive drug selection cassette or a heterologous reporter. These data demonstrate the power of combining classical genetic mapping, whole genome sequencing, and CRISPR mediated gene disruption for combined forward and reverse genetic strategies in T. gondii.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are crucial genetic effectors partaking in numerous mechanisms of gene regulation in eukaryotic organisms. Recent discoveries of miRNA in Toxoplasma gondii, an intracellular obligate parasite of the phylum Apicomplexa, suggested possible roles of T. gondii miRNAs (Tg-miRNAs) in the post-transcriptional gene regulation and in the cell biology of the parasite. To gain a better understanding of the involvement of Tg-miRNAs in regulating the parasite gene expression, a dual luciferase reporter system was used in the examination and evaluation of the effects of endogenous Tg-miRNAs, their mimics and inhibitors. A Renilla luciferase (Rnluc) transcript was engineered to carry independent binding sites of two abundant species, namely Tg-miR-60a and Tg-miR-4a, so that the expression of Rnluc was silenced in a sequence specific manner by Tg-miR-60a and Tg-miR-4a. Notably, Tg-miR-60a, but not Tg-miR-4a, caused the levels of Rnluc transcripts to decrease. These findings strongly suggested that T. gondii employs the Tg-miRNA species-specific mode of silencing actions: transcript degradation by Tg-miR-60a, and translational suppression by Tg-miR-4a. Herein we developed a genetic system that exploits and directs the most abundant Tg-miR-60a for loss-of-function analyses in T. gondii. As a proof of principle, we showed that when the binding sites for Tg-miR-60a were introduced into the parasite transcripts via homologous recombination at the locus of (i) DEAD-box RNA helicase (TgHoDI), or (ii) lactate dehydrogenase isoform 1 (TgLDH1), the expression levels of the selected genes can be altered. It was thus proven that inherit Tg-miR-60a could be directed and used to assist in the loss-of-function analyses.
"Serrano" ham is a typical pork product from the Mediterranean area, highly valued for its flavour. To make Serrano ham, pork undergoes a salting and a subsequent fermentation process known as curing. Certain pigs used for meat production are an important source of Toxoplasma gondii infection in humans. We have developed a method for quantifying and assaying the viability of the T. gondii present in commercial Serrano ham samples. A magnetic capture method for the isolation of T. gondii DNA and a qRT-PCR were used to estimate the T. gondii burden in 475 commercial samples of "Serrano" ham in two presentation formats: ham pieces and sliced ham. The infectivity capacity of T. gondii in positive samples was assayed in mice. The global prevalence of T. gondii was 8.84%, ranging from 32.35% in one of the companies to 0% prevalence in three other companies. The infectivity assays revealed that only 4.84% of the positive samples were infective. To the best of our knowledge this is the first report focussing on the prevalence of T. gondii in commercial "Serrano" ham. The method described here could be useful for producers to guarantee the safety of their products.
Apicomplexa are obligate intracellular parasites that cause important diseases in humans and animals. Manipulating the pathogen genome is the most direct way to understand the functions of specific genes in parasite development and pathogenesis. In Toxoplasma gondii, nonhomologous recombination is typically highly favored over homologous recombination, a process required for precise gene targeting. Several approaches, including the use of targeting vectors that feature large flanks to drive site-specific recombination, have been developed to overcome this problem. We have generated a new large-insert repository of T. gondii genomic DNA that is arrayed and sequenced and covers 95% of all of the parasite's genes. Clones from this fosmid library are maintained at single copy, which provides a high level of stability and enhances our ability to modify the organism dramatically. We establish a robust recombineering pipeline and show that our fosmid clones can be easily converted into gene knockout constructs in a 4-day protocol that does not require plate-based cloning but can be performed in multiwell plates. We validated this approach to understand gene function in T. gondii and produced a conditional null mutant for a nucleolar protein belonging to the NOL1/NOP2/SUN family, and we show that this gene is essential for parasite growth. We also demonstrate a powerful complementation strategy in the context of chemical mutagenesis and whole-genome sequencing. This repository is an important new resource that will accelerate both forward and reverse genetic analysis of this important pathogen.
Oocysts of Toxoplasma gondii represent one of the most common environmental contaminants causing the zoonotic infection toxoplasmosis. The aim of the present study was to compare the Mini-FLOTAC device with traditional cell counting plates (Kova Slide) for the detection of T. gondii oocysts from feline feces. Two types of experiments were performed: (i) purified oocysts were counted in different dilutions and (ii) specific pathogen free T. gondii-negative cat feces was inoculated with numbers of purified oocysts and counting was performed directly from feces. Our analysis showed a thousand times higher sensitivity of Mini-FLOTAC (5 × 102 oocysts) compared to Kova Slide (5 × 105 oocysts). Also, when compared by McNemar's test, counting of the purified oocysts showed a higher sensitivity of Mini-FLOTAC compared to Kova Slide, for a dilution of 103 oocysts/ml Our results show that Mini-FLOTAC is more sensitive than traditional methods of T. gondii oocysts detection and quantification is more accurate. Furthermore, Mini-FLOTAC simplicity and cost effectiveness allow it to be used with light microscopes in any laboratory or field conditions. We therefore recommend its use for regular screening. Further studies are needed to validate Mini-FLOTAC for the detection of oocysts in soil and water samples in field conditions.
Detection; Kova slide; Mini-FLOTAC; Oocysts; Toxoplasma gondii
The only known redox system in the apicoplast, a plastid-like organelle of apicomplexan parasites, is ferredoxin and ferredoxin-associated reductase. Ferredoxin donates electrons to different enzymes, presumably including lipoate synthase (LipA), which is essential for fatty acid biosynthesis. We recombinantly expressed and characterized LipA from the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, generated LipA-specific antibodies and confirmed the apicoplast localization of LipA. Electron transfer from ferredoxin to LipA would require direct protein-protein interaction. Such a robust interaction between the two proteins was demonstrated in both yeast and bacterial two-hybrid systems. Taken together, our results provide strong evidence for a role of ferredoxin as an electron donor to LipA.
Background Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan, causing the important zoonosis toxoplasmosis. This parasite utilizes a unique form of locomotion called gliding motility to find and invade host cells. The micronemal adhesin MIC2 plays critical roles in these processes by binding to substrates and host cell receptors using its extracellular adhesive domains. Although MIC2 is known to mediate important interactions between parasites and host cells during invasion, the specific host proteins interacting with MIC2 have not been clearly identified. In this study, we used a yeast-two-hybrid system to search for host proteins that interact with MIC2.MethodsDifferent adhesive domains of MIC2 were cloned into the pGBKT7 vector and expressed in fusion with the GAL4 DNA-binding domain as baits. Expression of bait proteins in yeast cells was analyzed by immuno-blotting and their autoactivation was tested via comparison with the pGBKT7 empty vector, which expressed the GAL4 DNA binding-domain only. To identify host proteins interacting with MIC2, a mouse cDNA library cloned into a GAL4 activation-domain expressing vector was screened by yeast-two-hybrid using the integrin-like A domain of MIC2 (residues 74¿270) as bait. After initial screening and exclusion of false positive hits, positive preys were sequenced and analyzed using BLAST analysis and Gene Ontology Classifications.ResultsTwo host proteins that had not previously been reported to interact with T. gondii MIC2 were identified: they are LAMTOR1 (late endosomal/lysosomal adaptor, MAPK and mTOR activator 1) and RNaseH2B (ribonuclease H2 subunit B). Gene Ontology analysis indicated that these two proteins are associated with many cellular processes, such as lysosome maturation, signaling transduction, and RNA catabolism.ConclusionThis study is the first one to report interactions between Toxoplasma gondii MIC2 and two host proteins, LAMTOR1 and RNaseH2B. The data will help us to gain a better understanding of the function of MIC2 and suggest that MIC2 may play roles in modulating host signal transduction and other biological processes in addition to binding host cells.
As an orally acquired pathogen, the immune response to Toxoplasma gondii unfolds in the small intestinal mucosa. There, an array of regulatory and effector immune cells are elicited to combat the parasite through secretion of inflammatory mediators, normally resulting in host protection and pathogen control. Recent studies largely in mice have found that a productive immune response requires the combined recognition of parasite- and commensal-derived antigens by mucosal leukocytes. However, despite the fine-tuned regulatory mechanisms in place to prevent immunopathology, dysregulated responses can occur in genetically susceptible subjects, leading to lethal proinflammatory-mediated intestinal damage. Here we describe the current understanding of the inflammatory players involved in orchestrating immunity or immunopathology in the intestine during the mucosal response to Toxoplasma infection. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Label-free imaging using Raman micro-spectroscopy (RMS) was used to characterize the spatio-temporal molecular changes of T. gondii tachyzoites and their host cell microenvironment. Raman spectral maps were recorded from isolated T. gondii tachyzoites and T. gondii-infected human retinal cells at 6 h, 24 h and 48 h post-infection. Principal component analysis (PCA) of the Raman spectra of paraformaldehyde-fixed infected cells indicated a significant increase in the amount of lipids and proteins in the T. gondii tachyzoites as the infection progresses within host cells. These results were confirmed by experiments carried out on live T. gondii-infected cells and were correlated with an increase in the concentration of proteins and lipids required for the replication of this intracellular pathogen. These findings demonstrate the potential of RMS to characterize time- and spatially-dependent molecular interactions between intracellular pathogens and the host cells. Such information may be useful for discovery of pharmacological targets or screening compounds with potential neuro-protective activity for eminent effects of changes in brain infection control practices.