Joanna Crawford

University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Are you Joanna Crawford?

Claim your profile

Publications (8)64.01 Total impact

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Host cell invasion by the obligate intracellular apicomplexan parasites, including Plasmodium (malaria) and Toxoplasma (toxoplasmosis), requires a step-wise mechanism unique among known host-pathogen interactions. A key step is the formation of the Moving Junction(MJ) complex, a circumferential constriction between the apical tip of the parasite and the host cell membrane that traverses in a posterior direction to enclose the parasite in a protective vacuole essential for intracellular survival. The leading model of MJ assembly proposes that Rhoptry Neck Protein 2 (RON2) is secreted into the host cell and integrated into the membrane where it serves as the receptor for Apical Membrane Antigen 1 (AMA1) on the parasite surface. We have previously demonstrated that the AMA1-RON2 interaction is an effective target for inhibiting apicomplexan invasion. To better understand the AMA1-dependantmolecular recognition events that promote invasion, including thesignificant AMA1-RON2 interaction, we present the structural characterizationof AMA1 from the apicomplexan parasitesBabesia divergens (BdAMA1) and Neospora caninum (NcAMA1) by X-ray crystallography. These studies offer intriguing structural insight into the RON2-binding surface groove in the AMA1 apical domain, which shows clear evidence for receptor-ligand co-evolution, and the hyper variability of the membrane proximal domain, which in Plasmodium is responsible for direct binding to erythrocytes.By incorporatingthe structural analysis of BdAMA1 and NcAMA1 with existing AMA1 structures and complexeswe were ableto defineconserved pockets in the AMA1 apical groove that could be targeted for the design of broadly reactive therapeutics.
    Protein Science 11/2012; · 2.74 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Apicomplexan parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium species actively invade host cells through a moving junction (MJ) complex assembled at the parasite-host cell interface. MJ assembly is initiated by injection of parasite rhoptry neck proteins (RONs) into the host cell, where RON2 spans the membrane and functions as a receptor for apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) on the parasite. We have determined the structure of TgAMA1 complexed with a RON2 peptide at 1.95 angstrom resolution. A stepwise assembly mechanism results in an extensive buried surface area, enabling the MJ complex to resist the mechanical forces encountered during host cell invasion. Besides providing insights into host cell invasion by apicomplexan parasites, the structure offers a basis for designing therapeutics targeting these global pathogens.
    Science 07/2011; 333(6041):463-7. · 31.20 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Toxoplasma gondii is a widespread zoonotic pathogen capable of causing serious disease in humans and animals. As an obligate intracellular parasite, T. gondii relies on the orchestrated secretion of proteins from its apical complex organelles including the multimodular, transmembrane micronemal protein 2 (MIC2) that couples recognition of the host cell with cytoskeletal reorganization of the parasite to drive invasion. To probe the basis by which the von Willebrand Factor A (vWA)-Integrin like module of TgMIC2 engages the host cell, we solved the crystal structure of a truncated form of TgMIC2A/I (TgMIC2A/Ic) phased by iodide SIRAS and refined to a resolution of 2.05 Å. The TgMIC2A/Ic core is organized into a central twisted beta sheet flanked by α-helices consistent with a canonical vWA fold. A restricted basic patch serves as the putative heparin binding site, but no heparin binding was detected in native gel shift assays. Furthermore, no metal was observed in the metal ion dependent adhesion site (MIDAS). Structural overlays with homologous A/I domains reveal a divergent organization of the MIDAS β4-α4 loop in TgMIC2A/Ic, which is stabilized through the burial of Phe195 into a deep pocket formed by Gly185. Intriguingly, Gly185 appears to be unique among A/I domains to TgMIC2A/I suggesting that the divergent loop conformation may also be unique to TgMIC2A/I. Although lacking the C-terminal extension, the TgMIC2A/Ic structure reported here is the first of an A/I domain from an apicomplexan parasite and provides valuable insight into defining the molecular recognition of host cells by these widespread pathogens.
    Protein Science 10/2010; 19(10):1985-90. · 2.74 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Apicomplexan parasites such as Plasmodium spp. (malaria) and Toxoplasma gondii (toxoplasmosis) are significant global pathogens of humans and animals. Unlike many intracellular bacterial and viral pathogens that rely on host cell uptake machinery to gain entry, apicomplexan parasites promote recognition, attachment and ultimately invasion of host cells through an orchestrated delivery of adhesins. While several of these adhesins are now known to target host cell glycans, only recently have atomic level insights been forthcoming. Here we review recent developments in defining detailed molecular blueprints used by these widespread pathogens to drive host cell adhesion and promote infectivity.
    Current Opinion in Structural Biology 10/2010; 20(5):551-9. · 8.74 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Toxoplasma gondii, the etiological agent of toxoplasmosis, utilizes stage-specific expression of antigenically distinct glycosylphosphatidylinositol-tethered surface coat proteins to promote and establish chronic infection. Of the three infective stages of T. gondii, sporozoites are encapsulated in highly infectious oocysts that have been linked to large scale outbreaks of toxoplasmosis. SporoSAG (surface antigen glycoprotein) is the dominant surface coat protein expressed on the surface of sporozoites. Using a bioinformatic approach, we show that SporoSAG clusters with the SAG2 subfamily of the SAG1-related superfamily (SRS) and is non-polymorphic among the 11 haplogroups of T. gondii strains. In contrast to the immunodominant SAG1 protein expressed on tachyzoites, SporoSAG is non-immunogenic during natural infection. We report the 1.60 Å resolution crystal structure of SporoSAG solved using cadmium single anomalous dispersion. SporoSAG crystallized as a monomer and displays unique features of the SRS β-sandwich fold relative to SAG1 and BSR4. Intriguingly, the structural diversity is localized to the upper sheets of the β-sandwich fold and may have important implications for multimerization and host cell ligand recognition. The structure of SporoSAG also reveals an unexpectedly acidic surface that contrasts with the previously determined SAG1 and BSR4 structures where a basic surface is predicted to play a role in binding negatively charged glycosaminoglycans. Our structural and functional characterization of SporoSAG provides a rationale for the evolutionary divergence of this key SRS family member.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 04/2010; 285(16):12063-12070. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) is an essential component of the moving junction complex used by Apicomplexan parasites to invade host cells. We report the 2.0 A resolution x-ray crystal structure of the full ectodomain (domains I, II, and III) of AMA1 from the pervasive protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The structure of T. gondii AMA1 (TgAMA1) is the most complete of any AMA1 structure to date, with more than 97.5% of the ectodomain unambiguously modeled. Comparative sequence analysis reveals discrete segments of divergence in TgAMA1 that map to areas of established functional importance in AMA1 from Plasmodium vivax (PvAMA1) and Plasmodium falciparum (PfAMA1). Inspection of the TgAMA1 structure reveals a network of apical surface loops, reorganized in both size and chemistry relative to PvAMA1/PfAMA1, that appear to serve as structural filters restricting access to a central hydrophobic groove. The terminal portion of this groove is formed by an extended loop from DII that is 14 residues shorter in TgAMA1. A pair of tryptophan residues (Trp(353) and Trp(354)) anchor the DII loop in the hydrophobic groove and frame a conserved tyrosine (Tyr(230)), forming a contiguous surface that may be critical for moving junction assembly. The minimalist DIII structure folds into a cystine knot that probably stabilizes and orients the bulk of the ectodmain without providing excess surface area to which invasion-inhibitory antibodies can be generated. The detailed structural characterization of TgAMA1 provides valuable insight into the mechanism of host cell invasion by T. gondii.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 03/2010; 285(20):15644-52. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Toxoplasma gondii, the etiological agent of toxoplasmosis, utilizes stage-specific expression of antigenically distinct glycosylphosphatidylinositol-tethered surface coat proteins to promote and establish chronic infection. Of the three infective stages of T. gondii, sporozoites are encapsulated in highly infectious oocysts that have been linked to large scale outbreaks of toxoplasmosis. SporoSAG (surface antigen glycoprotein) is the dominant surface coat protein expressed on the surface of sporozoites. Using a bioinformatic approach, we show that SporoSAG clusters with the SAG2 subfamily of the SAG1-related superfamily (SRS) and is non-polymorphic among the 11 haplogroups of T. gondii strains. In contrast to the immunodominant SAG1 protein expressed on tachyzoites, SporoSAG is non-immunogenic during natural infection. We report the 1.60 A resolution crystal structure of SporoSAG solved using cadmium single anomalous dispersion. SporoSAG crystallized as a monomer and displays unique features of the SRS beta-sandwich fold relative to SAG1 and BSR4. Intriguingly, the structural diversity is localized to the upper sheets of the beta-sandwich fold and may have important implications for multimerization and host cell ligand recognition. The structure of SporoSAG also reveals an unexpectedly acidic surface that contrasts with the previously determined SAG1 and BSR4 structures where a basic surface is predicted to play a role in binding negatively charged glycosaminoglycans. Our structural and functional characterization of SporoSAG provides a rationale for the evolutionary divergence of this key SRS family member.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 02/2010; 285(16):12063-70. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite that infects nearly one-third of the human population. The success of T. gondii is based on its complex life cycle; a lytic tachyzoite form disseminates infection, whereas an encysted bradyzoite form establishes a latent, chronic infection. Persistence and transmissibility is central to the survival of the parasite and is, in part, mediated by a family of antigenically distinct surface antigen glycoprotein (SAG)-related sequences (SRS) adhesins that play a dual role in host cell attachment and host immune evasion. More than 160 members of the SRS family have been identified with only the tachyzoite-expressed SAG1 structurally characterized. Here we report the first structural description of the bradyzoite adhesin BSR4 using x-ray crystallography and small angle x-ray scattering. The 1.90-A crystal structure of BSR4 reveals an architecture comprised of tandem beta sandwich domains organized in a head to tail fashion with the N-terminal domain responsible for dimer formation. A restructured topology in BSR4 results in a ligand-binding site that is significantly reorganized in both structure and chemistry relative to SAG1, consistent with BSR4 binding a distinct physiological ligand. The small angle x-ray scattering solution structure of BSR4 highlights a potentially important structural role for the interdomain polymorphic linker that imparts significant flexibility that may promote structural adaptation during ligand binding. This study reveals an unexpected level of structural diversity within the SRS superfamily and provides important insight into the role of these virulence factors.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 02/2009; 284(14):9192-8. · 4.65 Impact Factor