Víctor M Castillo-Acosta

Spanish National Research Council, Madrid, Madrid, Spain

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Publications (11)48.66 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The surface of Trypanosoma brucei is covered by a dense coat of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored glycoproteins. The major component is the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) which is glycosylated by both paucimannose and oligomannose N-glycans. Surface glycans are poorly accessible and killing mediated by peptide lectin-VSG complexes is hindered by active endocytosis. However, contrary to previous observations, here we show that high affinity carbohydrate binding agents bind to surface glycoproteins and abrogate growth of T. brucei bloodstream forms. Specifically, binding of the mannose-specific Hippeastrum hybrid agglutinin (HHA) resulted in profound perturbations in endocytosis and parasite lysis. Prolonged exposure to HHA led to the loss of triantennary oligomannose structures in surface glycoproteins as a result of genetic rearrangements that abolished expression of the oligosaccharyltransferase TbSTT3B gene and yielded novel chimeric enzymes. Mutant parasites exhibited markedly reduced infectivity thus demonstrating the importance of specific glycosylation patterns in parasite virulence.
    Molecular Microbiology 08/2013; · 4.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Trypanosomal all-alpha dUTPases are homodimeric enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of dUTP and dUDP to dUMP and PPi. Trypanosomes lack dCTP/dCMP deaminase and therefore strongly depend on dUDP/dUTP hydrolysis for dUMP production. Here we have addressed by gene replacement the consequences of elimination of dUTPase activity in bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma brucei. We first generated conditional DUT-knockout strains that allowed an effective decrease of dUTPase resulting in proliferation arrest, although gene repression could not be sustained long enough to cause lethality. Alternatively, DUT null mutants could be isolated in the presence of high levels of thymidine while exogenous supplementation with uracil, uridine or deoxyuridine could not complement metabolically the dUTPase deficiency. Upon thymidine removal, trypanosomes exhibited impaired proliferation and eventually died. These data establish a strict requirement for dUTPase in T. brucei viability and support a major role of the enzyme in the provision of pyrimidine nucleotides in kinetoplastids.
    Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 11/2012; · 2.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Deoxyuridine 5'-triphosphate pyrophosphatase (dUTPase) and uracil-DNA glycosylase (UNG) are key enzymes involved in the control of the presence of uracil in DNA. While dUTPase prevents uracil misincorporation by removing dUTP from the deoxynucleotide pool, UNG excises uracil from DNA as a first step of the base excision repair pathway (BER). Here, we report that strong down-regulation of dUTPase in UNG-deficient Trypanosoma brucei cells greatly impairs cell viability in both bloodstream and procyclic forms, underscoring the extreme sensitivity of trypanosomes to uracil in DNA. Depletion of dUTPase activity in the absence of UNG provoked cell cycle alterations, massive dUTP misincorporation into DNA and chromosomal fragmentation. Overall, trypanosomatid cells that lack dUTPase and UNG activities exhibited greater proliferation defects and DNA damage than cells deficient in only one of these activities. To determine the mutagenic consequences of uracil in DNA, mutation rates and spectra were analyzed in dUTPase-depleted cells in the presence of UNG activity. These cells displayed a spontaneous mutation rate 9-fold higher than the parental cell line. Base substitutions at A:T base pairs and deletion frequencies were both significantly enhanced which is consistent with the generation of mutagenic AP sites and DNA strand breaks. The increase in strand breaks conveyed a concomitant increase in VSG switching in vitro. The low tolerance of T. brucei to uracil in DNA emphasizes the importance of uracil removal and regulation of intracellular dUTP pool levels in cell viability and genetic stability and suggests potential strategies to compromise parasite survival.
    DNA repair 10/2012; · 4.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sterol biosynthesis inhibitors are promising entities for the treatment of trypanosomal diseases. Insect forms of Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of sleeping sickness, synthesize ergosterol and other 24-alkylated sterols, yet also incorporate cholesterol from the medium. While sterol function has been investigated by pharmacological manipulation of sterol biosynthesis, molecular mechanisms by which endogenous sterols influence cellular processes remain largely unknown in trypanosomes. Here we analyse by RNA interference, the effects of a perturbation of three specific steps of endogenous sterol biosynthesis in order to dissect the role of specific intermediates in proliferation, mitochondrial function and cellular morphology in procyclic cells. A decrease in the levels of squalene synthase and squalene epoxidase resulted in a depletion of cellular sterol intermediates and end products, impaired cell growth and led to aberrant morphologies, DNA fragmentation and a profound modification of mitochondrial structure and function. In contrast, cells deficient in sterol methyl transferase, the enzyme involved in 24-alkylation, exhibited a normal growth phenotype in spite of a complete abolition of the synthesis and content of 24-alkyl sterols. Thus, the data provided indicates that while the depletion of squalene and post-squalene endogenous sterol metabolites results in profound cellular defects, bulk 24-alkyl sterols are not strictly required to support growth in insect forms of T. brucei in vitro.
    International journal for parasitology 08/2012; · 3.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cells contain low amounts of uracil in DNA which can be the result of dUTP misincorporation during replication or cytosine deamination. Elimination of uracil in the base excision repair pathway yields an abasic site, which is potentially mutagenic unless repaired. The Trypanosoma brucei genome presents a single uracil-DNA glycosylase responsible for removal of uracil from DNA. Here we establish that no excision activity is detected on U:G, U:A pairs or single-strand uracil-containing DNA in uracil-DNA glycosylase null mutant cell extracts, indicating the absence of back-up uracil excision activities. While procyclic forms can survive with moderate amounts of uracil in DNA, an analysis of the mutation rate and spectra in mutant cells revealed a hypermutator phenotype where the predominant events were GC to AT transitions and insertions. Defective elimination of uracil via the base excision repair pathway gives rise to hypersensitivity to antifolates and oxidative stress and an increased number of DNA strand breaks, suggesting the activation of alternative DNA repair pathways. Finally, we show that uracil-DNA glycosylase defective cells exhibit reduced infectivity in vivo demonstrating that efficient uracil elimination is important for survival within the mammalian host.
    The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology 06/2012; 44(9):1555-68. · 4.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: DNA repair mechanisms guarantee the maintenance of genome integrity, which is critical for cell viability and proliferation in all organisms. As part of the cellular defenses to DNA damage, apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) endonucleases repair the abasic sites produced by spontaneous hydrolysis, oxidative or alkylation base damage and during base excision repair (BER). Trypanosoma brucei, the protozoan pathogen responsible of human sleeping sickness, has a class II AP endonuclease (TBAPE1) with a high degree of homology to human APE1 and bacterial exonuclease III. The purified recombinant enzyme cleaves AP sites and removes 3'-phosphoglycolate groups from 3'-ends. To study its cellular function, we have established TBAPE1-deficient cell lines derived from bloodstream stage trypanosomes, thus confirming that the AP endonuclease is not essential for viability in this cell type under in vitro culture conditions. The role of TBAPE1 in the removal of AP sites is supported by the inverse correlation between the level of AP endonuclease in the cell and the number of endogenously generated abasic sites in its genomic DNA. Furthermore, depletion of TBAPE1 renders cells hypersensitive to AP site and strand break-inducing agents such as methotrexate and phleomycin respectively but not to alkylating agents. Finally, the increased susceptibility that TBAPE1-depleted cells show to nitric oxide suggests an essential role for this DNA repair enzyme in protection against the immune defenses of the mammalian host.
    DNA repair 01/2012; 11(1):53-64. · 4.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: DNA single-strand breaks containing 3'-blocking groups are generated from attack of the sugar backbone by reactive oxygen species or after base excision by DNA glycosylase/apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) lyases. In human cells, APE1 excises sugar fragments that block the 3'-ends thus facilitating DNA repair synthesis. In Leishmania major, the causal agent of leishmaniasis, the APE1 homolog is the class II AP endonuclease LMAP. Expression of LMAP but not of APE1 reverts the hypersensitivity of a xth nfo repair-deficient Escherichia coli strain to the oxidative compound hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)). To identify the residues specifically involved in the repair of oxidative DNA damage, we generated random mutations in the ape1 gene and selected those variants that conferred protection against H(2)O(2). Among the resistant clones, we isolated a mutant in the nuclease domain of APE1 (D70A) with an increased capacity to remove 3'-blocking ends in vitro. D70 of APE1 aligns with A138 of LMAP and mutation of the latter to aspartate significantly reduces its 3'-phosphodiesterase activity. Kinetic analysis shows a novel role of residue D70 in the excision rate of 3'-blocking ends. The functional and structural differences between the parasite and human enzymes probably reflect a divergent molecular evolution of their DNA repair responses to oxidative damage.
    Nucleic Acids Research 02/2009; 37(6):1829-42. · 8.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway is a very complex route that entails multiple steps and generates a high number of end-products that are essential for cell viability such as sterols, dolichols, coenzyme Q, heme and prenylated proteins. In parasites from the Trypanosomatidae family this pathway provides new potential drug targets for exploitation in the search for improved therapies, and indeed compounds such as ketoconazole, aminobisphosphonates or terbinafine have been shown to have antiprotozoal activity both in vitro and in vivo. However, despite the high therapeutic importance of the pathway, the subcellular compartmentalization of the different steps of isoprenoid biosynthesis is not known in detail. Here we have analysed the intracellular location of the enzymes 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl Coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) synthase (HMGS) and mevalonate kinase (MVAK) in Leishmania major promastigotes as well as in Trypanosoma brucei procyclic and bloodstream forms. For this purpose we generated specific polyclonal antibodies against both highly purified recombinant proteins and used those in indirect immunofluorescence and digitonin titration experiments. Results show that sterol biosynthesis is distributed in multiple intracellular compartments and provide evidence indicating that in trypanosomatids the production of HMG-CoA from acetyl Coenzyme A and generation of mevalonate occur mainly in the mitochondrion while further mevalonate phosphorylation is almost exclusively located in glycosomes. Furthermore, we have determined that peroxin 2 (PEX2) is involved in efficient targeting of MVAK and that the enzyme is relocated to the cytosol upon depletion of this peroxin involved in glycosomal matrix protein import.
    International journal for parasitology 10/2008; 39(3):307-14. · 3.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The enzyme deoxyuridine 5'-triphosphate nucleotidohydrolase (dUTPase) is responsible for the control of intracellular levels of dUTP thus controlling the incorporation of uracil into DNA during replication. Trypanosomes and certain eubacteria contain a dimeric dUTP-dUDPase belonging to the recently described superfamily of all-alpha NTP pyrophosphatases which bears no resemblance with typical eukaryotic trimeric dUTPases and presents unique properties regarding substrate specificity and product inhibition. While the biological trimeric enzymes have been studied in detail and the human enzyme has been proposed as a promising novel target for anticancer chemotherapeutic strategies, little is known regarding the biological function of dimeric proteins. Here, we show that in Trypanosoma brucei, the dimeric dUTPase is a nuclear enzyme and that down-regulation of activity by RNAi greatly reduces cell proliferation and increases the intracellular levels of dUTP. Defects in growth could be partially reverted by the addition of exogenous thymidine. dUTPase-depleted cells presented hypersensitivity to methotrexate, a drug that increases the intracellular pools of dUTP, and enhanced uracil-DNA glycosylase activity, the first step in base excision repair. The knockdown of activity produces numerous DNA strand breaks and defects in both S and G2/M progression. Multiple parasites with a single enlarged nucleus were visualized together with an enhanced population of anucleated cells. We conclude that dimeric dUTPases are strongly involved in the control of dUTP incorporation and that adequate levels of enzyme are indispensable for efficient cell cycle progression and DNA replication.
    The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 01/2008; 40(12):2901-13. · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Apurinic/apyrimidinic endonucleases initiate the repair of abasic sites produced either spontaneously, from attack of bases by reactive oxygen species or as intermediates during base excision repair. The catalytic properties and crystal structure of Leishmania major apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease are described and compared with those of human APE1 and bacterial exonuclease III. The purified enzyme is shown to possess apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease activity of the same order as eukaryotic and prokaryotic counterparts and an equally robust 3'-phosphodiesterase activity. Consistent with this, expression of the L. major endonuclease confers resistance to both methyl methane sulphonate and H2O2 in Escherichia coli repair-deficient mutants while expression of the human homologue only reverts methyl methane sulphonate sensitivity. Structural analyses and modelling of the enzyme-DNA complex demonstrates a high degree of conservation to previously characterized homologues, although subtle differences in the active site geometry might account for the high 3'-phosphodiesterase activity. Our results confirm that the L. major's enzyme is a key element in mediating repair of apurinic/apyrimidinic sites and 3'-blocked termini and therefore must play an important role in the survival of kinetoplastid parasites after exposure to the highly oxidative environment within the host macrophage.
    Journal of Molecular Biology 12/2007; 373(4):827-38. · 3.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A series of azasterol derivatives, designed as potential inhibitors of the Delta(24)-sterol methyltransferase enzyme (24-SMT), were synthesized and evaluated for their activities against parasitic protozoa. Values in the nanomolar range were obtained for 50% effective dose against the Trypanosoma brucei subsp. rhodesiense bloodstream form cultured in vitro. In order to investigate the mode of action, Trypanosoma brucei subsp. brucei 24-SMT was cloned and overexpressed and compounds were assayed for inhibitory activity. None of the inhibitors tested appeared to be active against the enzyme. Sterol composition analysis showed that only cholestane type sterols are present in membranes of bloodstream forms while ergosterol is a major component of procyclic sterol extracts. Interestingly, Northern blot analysis showed the presence of 24-SMT mRNA in both the procyclic and the bloodstream forms of the parasite, although levels of mRNA were threefold lower in the latter. Likewise, Western blot analysis and activity determinations evidenced the existence of active enzyme in both forms of the parasite. We conclude that the designed compounds act at sites other than 24-SMT in Trypanosoma brucei.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 09/2006; 50(8):2595-601. · 4.57 Impact Factor