Trypanosoma cruzi: molecular characterization of an RNA binding protein differentially expressed in the parasite life cycle.

Laboratorio de Interacciones Moleculares, Facultad de Ciencias, Iguá 4225, 11400 Montevideo, Uruguay.
Experimental Parasitology (Impact Factor: 1.86). 10/2007; 117(1):99-105. DOI: 10.1016/j.exppara.2007.03.010
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Molecular studies have shown several peculiarities in the regulatory mechanisms of gene expression in trypanosomatids. Protein coding genes are organized in long polycistronic units that seem to be constitutively transcribed. Therefore, post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression is considered to be the main point for control of transcript abundance and functionality. Here we describe the characterization of a 17 kDa RNA-binding protein from Trypanosoma cruzi (TcRBP19) containing an RNA recognition motive (RRM). This protein is coded by a single copy gene located in a high molecular weight chromosome of T. cruzi. Orthologous genes are present in the TriTryp genomes. TcRBP19 shows target selectivity since among the different homoribopolymers it preferentially binds polyC. TcRBP19 is a low expression protein only barely detected at the amastigote stage localizing in a diffuse pattern in the cytoplasm.

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    ABSTRACT: To characterise the trypanosomatid-exclusive RNA-binding protein TcRBP19, we analysed the phenotypic changes caused by its overexpression. Although no evident changes were observed when TcRBP19 was ectopically expressed in epimastigotes, the metacyclogenesis process was affected. Notably, TcRBP19 overexpression also led to a decrease in the number of infected mammalian cells. These findings suggest that TcRBP19 may be involved in the life cycle progression of the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite.
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    ABSTRACT: In Trypanosoma cruzi gene expression regulation mainly relays on post-transcriptional events. Nevertheless, little is known about the signals which control mRNA abundance and functionality. We have previously found that CA repeated tracts (polyCA) are abundant in the vicinity of open reading frames and constitute specific targets for single stranded binding proteins from T. cruzi epimastigote. Given the reported examples of the involvement of polyCA motifs in gene expression regulation, we decided to further study their role in T. cruzi. Using an in silico genome-wide analysis, we identify the genes that contain polyCA within their predicted UTRs. We found that about 10% of T. cruzi genes carry polyCA therein. Strikingly, they are frequently concurrent with GT repeated tracts (polyGT), favoring the formation of a secondary structure exhibiting the complementary polydinucleotides in a double stranded helix. This feature is found in the species-specific family of genes coding for mucine associated proteins (MASPs) and other genes. For those polyCA-containing UTRs that lack polyGT, the polyCA is mainly predicted to adopt a single stranded structure. We further analyzed the functional role of such element using a reporter approach in T. cruzi. We found out that the insertion of polyCA at the 3' UTR of a reporter gene in the pTEX vector modulates its expression along the parasite's life cycle. While no significant change of the mRNA steady state of the reporter gene could be detected at the trypomastigote stage, significant increase in the epimastigote and reduction in the amastigote stage were observed. Altogether, these results suggest the involvement of polyCA as a signal in gene expression regulation in T. cruzi.
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    ABSTRACT: Because of their relevant role in the post-transcriptional regulation of the expression of a multitude of genes, RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) need to be accurately regulated in response to environmental signals in terms of quantity, functionality and localization. Transcriptional, post-transcriptional and post-translational steps have all been involved in this tight control. We have previously identified a Trypanosoma cruzi RBP, named TcRBP19, which can barely be detected at the replicative intracellular amastigote stage of the mammalian host. Even though protein coding genes are typically transcribed constitutively in trypanosomes, TcRBP19 protein is undetectable at the epimastigote stage. Here, we show that this protein expression pattern follows the steady-state of its mRNA. Using a T. cruzi reporter gene approach, we could establish a role for the 3′ UTR of the tcrbp19 mRNA in transcript down-regulation at the epimastigote stage. In addition, the binding of the TcRBP19 protein to its encoding mRNA was revealed by in vitro pull down followed by qRT-PCR and confirmed by CLIP assays. Furthermore, we found that forced over-expression of TcRBP19 in T. cruzi epimastigotes decreased the stability of the endogenous tcrbp19 mRNA. These results support a negative feedback control of TcRBP19 to help maintain its very low concentration of TcRBP19 in the epimastigote stage. To our knowledge, this is the first RBP reported in trypanosomatids capable of negatively regulating its own mRNA. The mechanism revealed here adds to our limited but growing number of examples of negative mRNA autoregulation in the control of gene expression.
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