[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although there have been numerous advances in our understanding of how apicomplexan parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii enter host cells, many of the signaling pathways and enzymes involved in the organization of invasion mediators remain poorly defined. We recently performed a forward chemical-genetic screen in T. gondii and identified compounds that markedly enhanced infectivity. Although molecular dissection of invasion has benefited from the use of small-molecule inhibitors, the mechanisms underlying induction of invasion by small-molecule enhancers have never been described. Here we identify the Toxoplasma ortholog of human APT1, palmitoyl protein thioesterase-1 (TgPPT1), as the target of one class of small-molecule enhancers. Inhibition of this uncharacterized thioesterase triggered secretion of invasion-associated organelles, increased motility and enhanced the invasive capacity of tachyzoites. We demonstrate that TgPPT1 is a bona fide depalmitoylase, thereby establishing an important role for dynamic and reversible palmitoylation in host-cell invasion by T. gondii.
Nature Chemical Biology 08/2013; · 12.95 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tissue cyst formed by the bradyzoite stage of Toxoplasma gondii is essential for persistent infection of the host as well as oral transmission. Bradyzoite secreted pseudokinase 1 (BPK1) is a component of the cyst wall, but nothing has previously been known about its function. Here, we show that immunoprecipitation of BPK1 from in vitro bradyzoite cultures, 4 days post-infection, identifies at least four associating proteins: MAG1, MCP4, GRA8 and GRA9. To determine the role of BPK1, a strain of Toxoplasma was generated with the bpk1 locus deleted. This BPK1 knock-out strain (Δbpk1) was investigated in vitro and in vivo. No defect was found in terms of in vitro cyst formation and no difference in pathogenesis or cyst burden 4 weeks post-infection (wpi) was detected after intraperitoneal (i.p.) infection with Δbpk1 tachyzoites, although the Δbpk1 cysts were significantly smaller than parental or BPK1-complemented strains at 8 wpi. Pepsin-acid treatment of 4 wpi in vivo cysts revealed Δbpk1 parasites are significantly more sensitive to this treatment compared to the parental and complemented strains. Consistent with this, 4 wpi Δbpk1 cysts were reduced in the ability to cause oral infection compared to the parental and complemented strains. Together, these data reveal that BPK1 plays a crucial role in the in vivo development and infectivity of Toxoplasma cysts.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The 3'-5'-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-dependent protein kinase (PKG) is the main mediator of cGMP signalling in the malaria parasite. This article reviews the role of PKG in Plasmodium falciparum during gametogenesis and blood stage schizont rupture, as well as the role of the Plasmodium berghei orthologue in ookinete differentiation and motility, and liver stage schizont development. The current views on potential effector proteins downstream of PKG and the mechanisms that may regulate cyclic nucleotide levels are presented.
Microbes and Infection 05/2012; 14(10):831-7. · 2.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite that is unique in its ability to infect a broad range of birds and mammals, including humans, leading to an extremely high worldwide prevalence and distribution. This work focuses on the environmentally resistant oocyst, which is the product of sexual replication in felids and an important source of human infection. Due to the difficulty in producing and working with oocysts, relatively little is known about how this stage is able to resist extreme environmental stresses and how they initiate a new infection, once ingested. To fill this gap, the proteome of the wall and sporocyst/sporozoite fractions of mature, sporulated oocysts were characterized using one-dimensional gel electrophoresis followed by LC-MS/MS on trypsin-digested peptides. A combined total of 1021 non-redundant T. gondii proteins were identified in the sporocyst/sporozoite fraction and 226 were identified in the oocyst wall fraction. Significantly, 172 of the identified proteins have not previously been identified in Toxoplasma proteomic studies. Among these are several of interest for their likely role in conferring environmental resistance including a family of small, tyrosine-rich proteins present in the oocyst wall fractions and late embryogenesis abundant domain-containing (LEA) proteins in the cytosolic fractions. The latter are known from other systems to be key to enabling survival against desiccation.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(1):e29955. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Toxoplasma gondii is a member of the phylum Apicomplexa that includes several important human pathogens, such as Cryptosporidium and Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of human malaria. It is an obligate intracellular parasite that can cause severe disease in congenitally infected neonates and immunocompromised individuals. Despite the importance of attachment and invasion to the success of the parasite, little is known about the underlying mechanisms that drive these processes. Here we describe a screen to identify small molecules that block the process of host cell invasion by the T. gondii parasite. We identified a small molecule that specifically and irreversibly blocks parasite attachment and subsequent invasion of host cells. Using tandem orthogonal proteolysis-activity-based protein profiling, we determined that this compound covalently modifies a single cysteine residue in a poorly characterized protein homologous to the human protein DJ-1. Mutation of this key cysteine residue in the native gene sequence resulted in parasites that were resistant to inhibition of host cell attachment and invasion by the compound. Further analysis of the invasion phenotype confirmed that modification of Cys127 on TgDJ-1 resulted in a block of microneme secretion and motility, even in the presence of direct stimulators of calcium release. Together, our results suggest that TgDJ-1 plays an important role that is likely downstream of the calcium flux required for microneme secretion, parasite motility, and subsequent invasion of host cells.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2011; 108(26):10568-73. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The obligate intracellular parasite pathogen Plasmodium falciparum is the causative agent of malaria, a disease that results in nearly one million deaths per year. A key step in disease pathology in the human host is the parasite-mediated rupture of red blood cells, a process that requires extensive proteolysis of a number of host and parasite proteins. However, only a relatively small number of specific proteolytic processing events have been characterized. Here we describe the application of the Protein Topography and Migration Analysis Platform (PROTOMAP) (Dix, M. M., Simon, G. M., and Cravatt, B. F. (2008) Global mapping of the topography and magnitude of proteolytic events in apoptosis. Cell 134, 679-691; Simon, G. M., Dix, M. M., and Cravatt, B. F. (2009) Comparative assessment of large-scale proteomic studies of apoptotic proteolysis. ACS Chem. Biol. 4, 401-408) technology to globally profile proteolytic events occurring over the last 6-8 h of the intraerythrocytic cycle of P. falciparum. Using this method, we were able to generate peptographs for a large number of proteins at 6 h prior to rupture as well as at the point of rupture and in purified merozoites after exit from the host cell. These peptographs allowed assessment of proteolytic processing as well as changes in both protein localization and overall stage-specific expression of a large number of parasite proteins. Furthermore, by using a highly selective inhibitor of the cysteine protease dipeptidyl aminopeptidase 3 (DPAP3) that has been shown to be a key regulator of host cell rupture, we were able to identify specific substrates whose processing may be of particular importance to the process of host cell rupture. These results provide the first global map of the proteolytic processing events that take place as the human malarial parasite extracts itself from the host red blood cell. These data also provide insight into the biochemical events that take place during host cell rupture and are likely to be valuable for the study of proteases that could potentially be targeted for therapeutic gain.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In eukaryotes, calcium signalling has been linked to hydrolysis of the phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PtdIns(4,5)P(2)). The final enzyme in the synthesis of this phosphoinositide, a Type I phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate 5-kinase (PIP5K), is activated by the small G protein ADP-ribosylation factor 1 (ARF1). In mammals, the ARF-PIP5K pathway is a key regulator of cell motility, secretion and cell signalling. We report the characterisation of a unique, putative bifunctional PIP5K in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. The protein comprises a C-terminal, functional PIP5K domain with catalytic specificity for phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate. The recombinant enzyme is activated by ARF1 but not phosphatidic acid. The protein also incorporates an unusual N-terminal domain with potential helix-loop-helix EF-hand-like motifs that is a member of the neuronal calcium sensor family (NCS). Intriguingly, NCS-1 has been shown to stimulate phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate synthesis by activating mammalian and yeast phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase beta in vitro in a calcium-dependent manner. The unexpected physical attachment of an NCS-like domain to the plasmodial PIP5K might reflect a unique functional link between the calcium and PtdIns(4,5)P(2) pathways allowing modulation of PtdIns(4,5)P(2) production in response to changes in intracellular calcium concentrations within the parasite.
International journal for parasitology 02/2009; 39(6):645-53. · 3.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 200 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: N-Myristoyl transferase-mediated modification with azide-bearing substrates is introduced as a highly selective and practical method for in vitro and in vivo N-terminal labelling of a recombinant protein using bioorthogonal ligation chemistry.
Chemical Communications 02/2008; · 6.72 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recombinant N-myristoyltransferase of Plasmodium falciparum (termed PfNMT) has been used in the development of a SPA (scintillation proximity assay) suitable for automation and high-throughput screening of inhibitors against this enzyme. The ability to use the SPA has been facilitated by development of an expression and purification system which yields considerably improved quantities of soluble active recombinant PfNMT compared with previous studies. Specifically, yields of pure protein have been increased from 12 microg x l(-1) to >400 microg x l(-1) by use of a synthetic gene with codon usage optimized for expression in an Escherichia coli host. Preliminary small-scale 'piggyback' inhibitor studies using the SPA have identified a family of related molecules containing a core benzothiazole scaffold with IC50 values <50 microM, which demonstrate selectivity over human NMT1. Two of these compounds, when tested against cultured parasites in vitro, reduced parasitaemia by >80% at a concentration of 10 microM.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The eukaryotic enzyme NMT (myristoyl-CoA:protein N-myristoyltransferase) has been characterized in a range of species from Saccharomyces cerevisiae to Homo sapiens. NMT is essential for viability in a number of human pathogens, including the fungi Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans, and the parasitic protozoa Leishmania major and Trypanosoma brucei. We have purified the Leishmania and T. brucei NMTs as active recombinant proteins and carried out kinetic analyses with their essential fatty acid donor, myristoyl-CoA and specific peptide substrates. A number of inhibitory compounds that target NMT in fungal species have been tested against the parasite enzymes in vitro and against live parasites in vivo. Two of these compounds inhibit TbNMT with IC50 values of <1 microM and are also active against mammalian parasite stages, with ED50 (the effective dose that allows 50% cell growth) values of 16-66 microM and low toxicity to murine macrophages. These results suggest that targeting NMT could be a valid approach for the development of chemotherapeutic agents against infectious diseases including African sleeping sickness and Nagana.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Peptide aptamers are powerful chemical genetic tools for the dissection of biological networks, but their application to in vivo systems has been limited by the challenging problem of targeting peptides to a specific site on a single target protein. Here we present our initial research on a novel technique for targeting combinatorial peptide aptamers to a protein binding-site using a small-molecule binding-partner (or ‘Trojan horse’). Novel peptide-based inhibitors for Plasmodium falciparum myristoyl-CoA:protein N-myristoyl transferase (PfNMT) have been selected from a one-bead one-compound library using a high-throughput on-bead screening methodology, targeted to the active site of NMT with a myristate (C14 : 0 fatty acid) substrate analogue. From an initial screen of an unbiased 130321-compound library of lipid/combinatorial peptide chimeras, we have selected 6-mer peptides in an on-bead assay which show NMT inhibition with IC50 values ranging down to low micromolar.