Friday, March 14, 2008

Localisation of gluconeogenesis and tricarboxylic acid (TCA)-cycle enzymes and first functional analysis of the TCA cycle in Toxo

Int J Parasitol. 2008 Feb 13 [Epub ahead of print]

Localisation of gluconeogenesis and tricarboxylic acid (TCA)-cycle enzymes and first functional analysis of the TCA cycle in Toxoplasma gondii

Fleige T, Pfaff N, Gross U, Bohne W.

Institute of Medical Microbiology, University of Göttingen, Kreuzbergring 57, Göttingen D-37075, Germany.

The apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii displays some unusual localisations of carbohydrate converting enzymes, which is due to the presence of a vestigial, non-photosynthetic plastid, referred to as the apicoplast. It was recently demonstrated that the single pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDH) in T. gondii is exclusively localised inside the apicoplast but absent in the mitochondrion. This raises the question about expression, localisation and function of enzymes for the tricarboxylic acid (TCA)-cycle, which normally depends on PDH generated acetyl-CoA. Based on the expression and localisation of epitope-tagged fusion proteins, we show that all analysed TCA cycle enzymes are localised in the mitochondrion, including both isoforms of malate dehydrogenase. The absence of a cytosolic malate dehydrogenase suggests that a typical malate-aspartate shuttle for transfer of reduction equivalents is missing in T. gondii. We also localised various enzymes which catalyse the irreversible steps in gluconeogenesis to a cellular compartment and examined mRNA expression levels for gluconeogenesis and TCA cycle genes between tachyzoites and in vitro bradyzoites. In order to get functional information on the TCA cycle for the parasite energy metabolism, we created a conditional knock-out mutant for the succinyl-CoA synthetase. Disruption of the sixth step in the TCA cycle should leave the biosynthetic parts of the cycle intact, but prevent FADH(2) production. The succinyl-CoA synthetase depletion mutant displayed a 30% reduction in growth rate, which could be restored by supplementation with 2muM succinate in the tissue culture medium. The mitochondrial membrane potential in these parasites was found to be unaltered. The lack of a more severe phenotype suggests that a functional TCA cycle is not essential for T. gondii replication and for maintenance of the mitochondrial membrane potential.

PMID: 18336823 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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