Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Knockout of leucine aminopeptidase in Toxoplasma gondii using CRISPR/Cas9

2014 Nov 13. pii: S0020-7519(14)00267-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2014.09.003. [Epub ahead of print]
Leucine aminopeptidases of the M17 peptidase family represent ideal drug targets for therapies directed against the pathogens Plasmodium, Babesia and Trypanosoma. Previously, we characterised Toxoplasma gondii leucine aminopeptidase and demonstrated its role in regulating the levels of free amino acids. In this study, we evaluated the potential of T. gondii leucine aminopeptidase as a drug target in T. gondii by a knockout method. Existing knockout methods for T. gondii have many drawbacks; therefore, we developed a new technique that takes advantage of the CRISPR/Cas9 system. We first chose a Cas9 target site in the gene encoding T. gondii leucine aminopeptidase and then constructed a knockout vector containing Cas9 and the single guide RNA. After transfection, single tachyzoites were cloned in 96-well plates by limiting dilution. Two transfected strains derived from a single clone were cultured in Vero cells, and then subjected to expression analysis by western blotting. The phenotypic analysis revealed that knockout of T. gondii leucine aminopeptidase resulted in inhibition of attachment/invasion and replication; both the growth and attachment/invasion capacity of knockout parasites were restored by complementation with a synonymously substituted allele of T. gondii leucine aminopeptidase. Mouse experiments demonstrated that T. gondii leucine aminopeptidase knockout somewhat reduced the pathogenicity of T. gondii. An enzymatic activity assay showed that T. gondii leucine aminopeptidase knockout reduced the processing of a leucine aminopeptidase-specific substrate in T. gondii. The absence of leucine aminopeptidase activity could be slightly compensated for in T. gondii. Overall, T. gondii leucine aminopeptidase knockout influenced the growth of T. gondii, but did not completely block parasite development, virulence or enzymatic activity. Therefore, we conclude that leucine aminopeptidase would be useful only as an adjunctive drug target in T. gondii.
Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


CRISP/Cas9; Growth; Invasion; Leucine aminopeptidase; Toxoplasma gondii
[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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