Co-culture of Trypanosoma musculi with spleen-derived adherent fibroblasts: Possible transfer of small molecules via connexons

Department of Biology, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA.
Journal of submicroscopic cytology and pathology 12/2005; 37(3-4):223-9.
Source: PubMed


Trypanosoma musculi, a protozoan parasite specific to mouse, was cultured in vitro in the presence of spleen-derived adherent cells. T. musculi co-cultured with adherent cells survived and proliferated indefinitely as long as cellular contact was retained. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy confirmed intimate membrane-to-membrane contact between the adherent cells and parasites. Cellular contact, therefore, seemed to be essential for trypanosomal survival and growth. Immunocytochemical studies demonstrated intense fibroblast growth factor (FGF) activity in adherent cells, and FGFR-2 in associated trypanosomes. BioPorter Lucifer yellow protein delivery reagent studies demonstrated that Lucifer yellow transfected into fibroblast was incorporated into associated trypanosomes. The results suggest the existence of viable channels reminiscent of gap junctions between associated cells. Such transfer of low molecular weight molecules might represent antiapoptotic metabolic factors that support survival of adherent trypanosomes in vitro. Immunocytochemical studies also detected connexin-32 and connexin-43 in the cytoplasm of fibroblasts and associated trypanosomes, however, restriction of connexons to trypanosome/fibroblast adherent sites was not observed. Western blots confirmed the presence of connexin protein molecules in trypanosomes.

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    • "Ultrastructural identification of GJs has been obtained in flatworms such as Hymenolepis diminuta [58], Diphyllobothrium dendriticum [57], and Taenia solium [59, 67]. Also, the existence of channels reminiscent of GJs between protozoan Trypanosoma musculi and fibroblast has been described [68]. In invertebrates, both GJ channels and hemichannels are formed by Inx proteins [13]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In vertebrates, connexins (Cxs) and pannexins (Panxs) are proteins that form gap junction channels and/or hemichannels located at cell-cell interfaces and cell surface, respectively. Similar channel types are formed by innexins in invertebrate cells. These channels serve as pathways for cellular communication that coordinate diverse physiologic processes. However, it is known that many acquired and inherited diseases deregulate Cx and/or Panx channels, condition that frequently worsens the pathological state of vertebrates. Recent evidences suggest that Cx and/or Panx hemichannels play a relevant role in bacterial and viral infections. Nonetheless, little is known about the role of Cx- and Panx-based channels in parasitic infections of vertebrates. In this review, available data on changes in Cx and gap junction channel changes induced by parasitic infections are summarized. Additionally, we describe recent findings that suggest possible roles of hemichannels in parasitic infections. Finally, the possibility of new therapeutic designs based on hemichannel blokers is presented.
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