Apicomplexan rhomboids have a potential role in microneme protein cleavage during host cell invasion.
ABSTRACT Apicomplexan parasites secrete transmembrane (TM) adhesive proteins as part of the process leading to host cell attachment and invasion. These microneme proteins are cleaved in their TM domains by an unidentified protease termed microneme protein protease 1 (MPP1). The cleavage site sequence (IA downward arrowGG), mapped in the Toxoplasma gondii microneme proteins TgMIC2 and TgMIC6, is conserved in microneme proteins of other apicomplexans including Plasmodium species. We report here the characterisation of novel T. gondii proteins belonging to the rhomboid family of intramembrane-cleaving serine proteases. T. gondii possesses six genes encoding rhomboid-like proteins. Four are localised along the secretory pathway and therefore constitute possible candidates for MPP1 activity. Toxoplasma rhomboids TgROM1, TgROM2 and TgROM5 cleave the TM domain of Drosophila Spitz, an established substrate for rhomboids from several species, demonstrating that they are active proteases. In addition, TgROM2 cleaves chimeric proteins that contain the TM domains of TgMIC2 and TgMIC12.
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ABSTRACT: Cryptosporidium parvum is an apicomplexan parasite that infects various mammals, including humans, yet no specific treatment has been developed. C. parvum sporozoites are the initial invasive forms that infect the intestinal epithelial cells of the host. To identify novel proteins expressed at the sporozoite stage, we analyzed around 100 recombinant peptides from a C. parvum expression library with an anti-sporozoite serum. We selected 14 peptides recognized by the serum and identified the corresponding genes in the C. parvum genomic database. Twelve of the 14 genes had been previously annotated in the genome database, whereas 2 of them (the CpC2C and the CpMT1 genes) were newly identified. We established that 13 of the 14 genes are expressed in the sporozoites and that the only multi-exon gene (CpC2C) produces a detectable amount of unspliced mRNA. The search for conserved domains revealed various structural features of these proteins, including signal peptides, transmembrane domains, WD repeats, C2 domain, and Myosin tails. Interestingly, among the 14 proteins, we also identified a putative rhomboid (CpRom) which, similarly to those found in other apicomplexa, could be involved in the host-cell invasion process. The search for similar proteins, conducted on 13 proteins, showed that 4 of these proteins belong to widely conserved families, whereas 7 of them are of apicomplexan origin and only 2 are restricted to the Cryptosporidium genus.Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 05/2007; 152(2):159-69. DOI:10.1016/j.molbiopara.2006.12.010 · 2.24 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Apicomplexa have developed distinctive adaptations for invading and surviving within animal cells. Here a synthetic overview of the diversity and evolutionary history of cell membrane-associated, -secreted, and -exported proteins related to apicomplexan parasitism is presented. A notable feature in this regard was the early acquisition of adhesion protein domains and glycosylation systems through lateral transfer from animals. These were utilized in multiple contexts, including invasion of host cells and parasite-specific developmental processes. Apicomplexans possess a specialized version of the ancestral alveolate extrusion machinery, the rhoptries and micronemes, which are deployed in invasion and delivery of proteins into host cells. Each apicomplexan lineage has evolved a unique spectrum of extruded proteins that modify host molecules in diverse ways. Hematozoans, in particular, appear to have evolved novel systems for export of proteins into the host organelles and cell membrane during intracellular development. These exported proteins are an important aspect of the pathogenesis of Plasmodium and Theileria, being involved in response to fever and in leukocyte proliferation respectively. The complement of apicomplexan surface proteins has primarily diversified via massive lineage-specific expansions of certain protein families, which are often coded by subtelomeric gene arrays. Many of these families have been found to be central to immune evasion. Domain shuffling and accretion have resulted in adhesins with new domain architectures. In terms of individual genes, constant selective pressures from the host immune response has resulted in extensive protein polymorphisms and gene losses. Apicomplexans have also evolved complex regulatory mechanisms controlling expression and maturation of surface proteins at the chromatin, transcriptional, posttranscriptional, and posttranslational levels. Evolutionary reconstruction suggests that the ancestral apicomplexan had thrombospondin and EGF domain adhesins, which were linked to the parasite cytoskeleton, and played a central role in invasion through formation of the moving junction. It also suggests that the ancestral parasite had O-linked glycosylation of surface proteins which was partially or entirely lost in hematozoan lineages.International Review of Cytology 02/2007; 262:1-74. DOI:10.1016/S0074-7696(07)62001-4 · 9.00 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Regulated proteolysis is known to control a variety of vital processes in apicomplexan parasites including invasion and egress of host cells. Serine proteases have been proposed as targets for drug development based upon inhibitor studies that show parasite attenuation and transmission blockage. Genetic studies suggest that serine proteases, such as subtilisin and rhomboid proteases, are essential but functional studies have proved challenging as active proteases are difficult to express. Proteinaceous Protease Inhibitors (PPIs) provide an alternative way to address the role of serine proteases in apicomplexan biology. To validate such an approach, a Neospora caninum Kazal inhibitor (NcPI-S) was expressed ectopically in two apicomplexan species, Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites and Plasmodium berghei ookinetes, with the aim to disrupt proteolytic processes taking place within the secretory pathway. NcPI-S negatively affected proliferation of Toxoplasma tachyzoites, while it had no effect on invasion and egress. Expression of the inhibitor in P. berghei zygotes blocked their development into mature and invasive ookinetes. Moreover, ultra-structural studies indicated that expression of NcPI-S interfered with normal formation of micronemes, which was also confirmed by the lack of expression of the micronemal protein SOAP in these parasites. Our results suggest that NcPI-S could be a useful tool to investigate the function of proteases in processes fundamental for parasite survival, contributing to the effort to identify targets for parasite attenuation and transmission blockage.PLoS ONE 03/2015; 10(3):e0121379. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0121379 · 3.53 Impact Factor