The protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma, like many intracellular pathogens, suppresses interferon gamma (IFN-γ)-induced signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) activity. We exploited this well-defined host-pathogen interaction as the basis for a high-throughput screen, identifying nine transcription factors that enhance STAT1 function in the nucleus, including the orphan nuclear hormone receptor TLX. Expression profiling revealed that upon IFN-γ treatment TLX enhances the output of a subset of IFN-γ target genes, which we found is dependent on TLX binding at those loci. Moreover, infection of TLX deficient mice with the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma results in impaired production of the STAT1-dependent cytokine interleukin-12 by dendritic cells and increased parasite burden in the brain during chronic infection. These results demonstrate a previously unrecognized role for this orphan nuclear hormone receptor in regulating STAT1 signaling and host defense and reveal that STAT1 activity can be modulated in a context-specific manner by such "modifiers."
Cancer is a general name for more than 100 malignant diseases. It is postulated that all cancers start from a single abnormal cell that grows out of control. Untreated cancers can cause serious consequences and deaths. Great progress has been made in cancer research that has significantly improved our knowledge and understanding of the nature and mechanisms of the disease, but the origins of cancer are far from being well understood due to the limitations of suitable model systems and to the complexities of the disease. In view of the fact that cancers are found in various species of vertebrates and other metazoa, here, we suggest that cancer also occurs in parasitic protozoans such as Trypanosoma brucei, a blood parasite, and Toxoplasma gondii, an obligate intracellular pathogen. Without treatment, these protozoan cancers may cause severe disease and death in mammals, including humans. The simpler genomes of these single-cell organisms, in combination with their complex life cycles and fascinating life cycle differentiation processes, may help us to better understand the origins of cancers and, in particular, leukemias.
Apicomplexan parasites including Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium species have complex life cycles that include multiple hosts and differentiation through several morphologically distinct stages requiring marked changes in gene expression. This review highlights emerging evidence implicating regulation of mRNA splicing as a mechanism to prime these parasites for rapid gene expression upon differentiation. We summarize the most important insights in alternative splicing including its role in regulating gene expression by decreasing mRNA abundance via 'Regulated Unproductive Splicing and Translation'. As a related but less well-understood mechanism, we discuss also our recent work suggesting a role for intron retention for precluding translation of stage specific isoforms of T. gondii glycolytic enzymes. We additionally provide new evidence that intron retention might be a widespread mechanism during parasite differentiation. Supporting this notion, recent genome-wide analysis of Toxoplasma and Plasmodium suggests intron retention is more pervasive than heretofore thought. These findings parallel recent emergence of intron retention being more prevalent in mammals than previously believed, thereby adding to the established roles in plants, fungi and unicellular eukaryotes. Deeper mechanistic studies of intron retention will provide important insight into its role in regulating gene expression in apicomplexan parasites and more general in eukaryotic organisms.
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite. It has extensive host populations and is prevalent globally; T. gondii infection can cause a zoonotic parasitic disease. Microneme protein 3 (MIC3) is a secreted protein that is expressed in all stages of the T. gondii life cycle. It has strong immunoreactivity and plays an important role in the recognition, adhesion and invasion of host cells by T. gondii. This article reviews the molecular structure of MIC3, its role in the invasion of host cells by parasites, its relationship with parasite virulence, and its induction of immune protection to lay a solid foundation for an in-depth study of potential diagnostic agents and vaccines for preventing toxoplasmosis.
Infection by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii is highly prevalent worldwide and may have serious clinical manifestations in immunocompromised patients. T. gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite that infects almost any cell type in mammalian hosts, including immune cells. The immune cells express purinergic P2 receptors in their membrane - subdivided into P2Y and P2X subfamilies - whose activation is important for infection control. Here, we examined the effect of treatment with UTP and UDP in mouse peritoneal macrophages infected with T. gondii tachyzoites. Treatment with these nucleotides reduced parasitic load by 90%, but did not increase the levels of the inflammatory mediators NO and ROS, nor did it modulate host cell death by apoptosis or necrosis. On the other hand, UTP and UDP treatments induced early egress of tachyzoites from infected macrophages, in a Ca2+-dependent manner, as shown by scanning electron microscopy analysis, and videomicroscopy. In subsequent infections, prematurely egressed parasites had reduced infectivity, and could neither replicate nor inhibit the fusion of lysosomes to the parasitophorous vacuole. The use of selective agonists and antagonists of the receptor subtypes P2Y2 and P2Y4 and P2Y6 showed that premature parasite egress may be mediated by the activation of these receptor subtypes. Our results suggest that the activity of P2Y host cell receptors controls T. gondii infection in macrophages, highlighting the importance of pyrimidinergic signaling for innate immune system response against infection. Finally the P2Y receptors should be considered as new target for the development of drugs against T. gondii infection.
While high quality genomic sequence data is available for many pathogenic organisms, the corresponding gene annotations are often plagued with inaccuracies that can hinder research that utilizes such genomic data. Experimental validation of gene models is clearly crucial in improving such gene annotations; the field of proteogenomics is an emerging area of research wherein proteomic data is applied to testing and improving genetic models. Krishna et al [Proteomics 2015, 00, 1-11] investigated whether incorporation of RNA-seq data into proteogenomics analyses can contribute significantly to validation studies of genome annotation, in two important parasitic organisms Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum. They applied a systematic approach to combine new and previously published proteomics data from T. gondii and N. caninum with transcriptomics data, leading to substantially improved gene models for these organisms. This study illustrates the importance of incorporating experimental data from both proteomics and RNA-seq studies into routine genome annotation protocols. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is an obligate intracellular parasite that must monitor for changes in the host environment and respond accordingly; however, it is still not fully known which genetic or epigenetic factors are involved in regulating virulence traits of T. gondii. There are on-going efforts to elucidate the mechanisms regulating the stage transition process via the application of high-throughput epigenomics, genomics and proteomics techniques. Given the range of experimental conditions and the typical yield from such high-throughput techniques, a new challenge arises: how to effectively collect, organize and disseminate the generated data for subsequent data analysis. Here, we describe toxoMine, which provides a powerful interface to support sophisticated integrative exploration of high-throughput experimental data and metadata, providing researchers with a more tractable means toward understanding how genetic and/or epigenetic factors play a coordinated role in determining pathogenicity of T. gondii. As a data warehouse, toxoMine allows integration of high-throughput data sets with public T. gondii data. toxoMine is also able to execute complex queries involving multiple data sets with straightforward user interaction. Furthermore, toxoMine allows users to define their own parameters during the search process that gives users near-limitless search and query capabilities. The interoperability feature also allows users to query and examine data available in other InterMine systems, which would effectively augment the search scope beyond what is available to toxoMine. toxoMine complements the major community database ToxoDB by providing a data warehouse that enables more extensive integrative studies for T. gondii. Given all these factors, we believe it will become an indispensable resource to the greater infectious disease research community.Database URL: http://toxomine.org.