[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Trypanosoma cruzi infection in humans and experimental animals causes Chagas disease which is often accompanied by myocarditis, cardiomyopathy, and vasculopathy. T. cruzi-derived thromboxane A(2) (TXA(2)) modulates vasculopathy and other pathophysiological features of Chagasic cardiomyopathy. Here, we provide evidence that epimastigotes, trypomastigotes, and amastigotes of T. cruzi (Brazil and Tulahuen strains) express a biologically active prostanoid receptor (PR) that is responsive to TXA(2) mimetics, e.g. IBOP. This putative receptor, TcPR, is mainly localized in the flagellar membrane of the parasites and shows a similar glycosylation pattern to that of bona fide thromboxane prostanoid (TP) receptors obtained from human platelets. Furthermore, TXA(2)-PR signal transduction activates T. cruzi-specific MAPK pathways. While mammalian TP is a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR); T. cruzi genome sequencing has not demonstrated any confirmed GPCRs in these parasites. Based on this genome sequencing it is likely that TcPR is unique in these protists with no counterpart in mammals. TXA(2) is a potent vasoconstrictor which contributes to the pathogenesis of Chagasic cardiovascular disease. It may, however, also control parasite differentiation and proliferation in the infected host allowing the infection to progress to a chronic state.
No preview · Article · Feb 2013 · Parasitology Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, is an important cause of morbidity and mortality primarily resulting from cardiac dysfunction, although T. cruzi infection results in inflammation and cell destruction in many organs. We found that T. cruzi (Brazil strain) infection of mice results in pancreatic inflammation and parasitism within pancreatic β-cells with apparent sparing of α cells and leads to the disruption of pancreatic islet architecture, β-cell dysfunction, and surprisingly, hypoglycemia. Blood glucose and insulin levels were reduced in infected mice during acute infection and insulin levels remained low into the chronic phase. In response to the hypoglycemia, glucagon levels 30 days postinfection were elevated, indicating normal α-cell function. Administration of L-arginine and a β-adrenergic receptor agonist (CL316, 243, respectively) resulted in a diminished insulin response during the acute and chronic phases. Insulin granules were docked, but the lack of insulin secretion suggested an inability of granules to fuse at the plasma membrane of pancreatic β-cells. In the liver, there was a concomitant reduced expression of glucose-6-phosphatase mRNA and glucose production from pyruvate (pyruvate tolerance test), demonstrating defective hepatic gluconeogenesis as a cause for the T. cruzi-induced hypoglycemia, despite reduced insulin, but elevated glucagon levels. The data establishes a complex, multi-tissue relationship between T. cruzi infection, Chagas disease, and host glucose homeostasis.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · American Journal Of Pathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chagas' disease, caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, is an important cause of heart disease. Previous studies from this laboratory revealed that microvascular spasm and myocardial ischemia were observed in infected mice. Infection of endothelial cells with this parasite increased the synthesis of biologically active endothelin-1 (ET-1). Therefore, in the myocardium of T. cruzi-infected mice, we examined ET-1 expression and the p42/44-mito-gen activated protein kinase (MAPK)-AP-1 pathway that regulates the expression of ET-1. There was parasitism and myonecrosis in the myocardium of infected C57BL/6 mice. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis revealed elevated mRNA expression of transcription factor AP-1 (c-jun and c-fos) and increased AP-1 DNA binding activity as determined by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). Western blot analysis demonstrated an increase in the phosphorylated forms of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2). ET-1 mRNA was upregulated in the myocardium of infected mice. Immunohistochemical and immunoelectron microscopy using anti-ET-1 antibody detected increased expression in cardiac myocytes and endothelium of these mice.These data suggest that ET-1 contributes to chagasic cardiomyopathy and that the mechanism of the increased expression of ET-1 is a result of the activation of the MAPK pathway by T. cruzi infection.
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No preview · Article · Aug 2012 · Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Analysis of gene function in Trypanosoma cruzi is limited due to the absence of rapid, simple and reversible genetic tools to regulate gene and corresponding protein expression. We have designed a modified pTREX vector which uses an N-terminal fusion of a ligand-controlled destabilisation domain (ddFKBP) to a gene/protein of interest. This vector allows rapid and reversible protein expression and efficient functional analysis of proteins in different T. cruzi life cycle stages.
Preview · Article · Nov 2011 · International journal for parasitology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways are major signal transduction systems by which eukaryotic cells convert environmental cues to intracellular events, such as cell proliferation and differentiation. Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan that is both a human and animal pathogen. This Apicomplexan causes significant morbidity and mortality in immune-competent and immune-compromised hosts. In humans, the most common manifestations of T. gondii infections are chorioretinitis in congenital infection and encephalitis in immune-compromised patients, such as patients with advanced AIDS. We have identified a T. gondii homolog of the MAPK family that we have called TgMAPK2. Sequence analyses demonstrated that TgMAPK2 has homology with lower eukaryotic ERK2 but has significant differences from mammalian ERK2. TgMAPK2 has an open reading frame of 2,037 bp, 678 amino acids, and its molecular weight is 73.1 kDa. It contains the typical 12 subdomains of a MAPK and has a TDY motif in the dual phosphorylation and activation subdomains. This suggests that TgMAPK2 may play an important role in stress response. recombinant TgMAPK2 was catalytically active and was not inhibited by a human ERK2 inhibitor, FR180204. A partial TgMAPK2 lacking the ATP-binding motifs GxGxxGxV was successfully regulated by a ligand-controlled destabilization domain (ddFKBP) expression vector system in T. gondii. Since TgMAPK2 is significantly different from its mammalian counterpart, it may be useful as a drug target. This work establishes a foundation for further study for this unique kinase.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gap junction channels provide intercellular communication between cells. In the heart, these channels coordinate impulse propagation along the conduction system and through the contractile musculature, thereby providing synchronous and optimal cardiac output. As in other arrhythmogenic cardiac diseases, chagasic cardiomyopathy is associated with decreased expression of the gap junction protein connexin43 (Cx43) and its gene. Our studies of cardiac myocytes infected with Trypanosoma cruzi have revealed that synchronous contraction is greatly impaired and gap junction immunoreactivity is lost in infected cells. Such changes are not seen for molecules forming tight junctions, another component of the intercalated disc in cardiac myocytes. Transcriptomic studies of hearts from mouse models of Chagas disease and from acutely infected cardiac myocytes in vitro indicate profound remodelling of gene expression patterns involving heart rhythm determinant genes, suggesting underlying mechanisms of the functional pathology. One curious feature of the altered expression of Cx43 and its gene expression is that it is limited in both extent and location, suggesting that the more global deterioration in cardiac function may result in part from spread of damage signals from more seriously compromised cells to healthier ones.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Advances in Parasitology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Signal transduction plays a key role in regulating important functions in both multicellular and unicellular organisms and largely controls the manner in which cells respond to stimuli. Signal transduction pathways coordinate the functions in different type of cells in animals and control the growth and differentiation in unicellular organisms. Intracellular signal transduction pathways are largely activated by second messenger molecules. Trypanosoma cruzi has a complex life cycle involving four morphogenetic stages with various second messenger systems able to regulate its growth and differentiation. Signal transduction often alters the status of phosphorylation in target proteins and thus alters the activities of these proteins. In this review, two major signal transduction pathways, cyclic AMP-dependent pathway and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, are discussed. Protein phosphatases are also discussed due to their importance in dephosphorylating target proteins and terminating signal transduction. Understanding of the unique pathways in this pathogen may lead to the development of novel therapeutic agents.
No preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Advances in Parasitology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mice carrying a defective leptin receptor gene (db/db mice) are metabolically challenged and upon infection with Trypanosoma cruzi (Brazil strain) suffer high mortality. In genetically
modified db/db mice, (NSE-Rb db/ db mice), central leptin signaling is reconstituted only in the brain, which is sufficient to correct the
metabolic defects. NSE-Rb db/db mice were infected with T. cruzi to determine the impact of the lack of leptin signaling on infection in the absence of metabolic dysregulation. Parasitemia
levels, mortality rates, and tissue parasitism were statistically significantly increased in infected db/db mice compared with those in infected NSE-Rb db/db and FVB wild-type mice. There was a reduction in fat mass and blood glucose level in infected db/db mice. Plasma levels of several cytokines and chemokines were statistically significantly increased in infected db/db mice compared with those in infected FVB and NSE-Rb db/db mice. These findings suggest that leptin resistance in individuals with obesity and diabetes mellitus may have adverse consequences
in T. cruzi infection.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · The Journal of Infectious Diseases
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways are major signal transduction systems by which eukaryotic cells convert environmental cues to intracellular events such as proliferation and differentiation. We have identified a Trypanosoma cruzi homologue of the MAPK family that we have called TcMAPK2. Sequence analyses demonstrates TcMAPK2 has high homology with lower eukaryotic ERK2 but has significant differences from mammalian ERK2. Enzymatic assays of both recombinant TcMAPK2 and native protein obtained by immunoprecipitation using anti-TcMAPK2 demonstrated that both preparations of TcMAPK2 were catalytically active. Immunofluorescence analysis of the subcellular localization of TcMAPK2 determined it is mainly cytoplasmic in epimastigotes, along the flagella in trypomastigotes and on the plasma membrane of intracellular amastigotes. Phosphorylated TcMAPK2 was highest in trypomastigotes and lowest in amastigotes. Recombinant TcMAPK2 was able to phosphorylate the recombinant protein of a cAMP specific phosphodiesterase. Overexpression of TcMAPK2 in epimastigotes inhibited growth and development leading to death. TcMAPK2 has an important role in the stress response of the parasite and may be important in regulating proliferation and differentiation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protein kinase A (PKA) has been suggested as a regulator of stage differentiation in Trypanosoma cruzi. Using a yeast two-hybrid system we have begun to characterize the downstream substrates of T. cruzi PKA. We identified several members of the trans-sialidase super family by this approach. Immunoprecitation demonstrated that a TcPKAc monoclonal antibody was able to pull-down proteins recognized by trans-sialidase antibodies as well as a SA85-1.1 antibody and vice versa. An in vitro phosphorylation assay demonstrated that PKA phosphorylated the recombinant protein of an active trans-sialidase. In addition, a phospho-(Ser/Thr) PKA substrate antibody detected bands on immunoblot analysis of trans-sialidase antibody precipitated proteins from parasite lysate and the media of L(6)E(9) myoblasts infected with trypomastigotes as well as from a SA85-1.1 antibody precipitated proteins from parasite lysate. Immunofluorescence analysis suggested that some TcPKAc localizes to the plasma membrane surface of trypomastigotes. The identified trans-sialidases have PKA consensus phosphorylation sites located near the endoplasmic reticulum retention motif in the N-terminal. These data support that PKA phosphorylates trans-sialidase super family members in vivo.
Preview · Article · May 2010 · Microbes and Infection
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cyclic AMP-protein kinase A (PKA) signaling is important for the growth and differentiation of Trypanosoma cruzi. Immunofluorescence suggests that PKA can associate with the plasma membrane of trypomastigotes. We found that the PKA regulatory subunit interacts with several P-type ATPases. These P-type ATPases may play a role in anchoring PKA to the plasma membrane in T. cruzi.
No preview · Article · Jul 2009 · The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. The critical initial event is the interaction of the trypomastigote form of the parasite with host receptors. This review highlights recent observations concerning these interactions. Some of the key receptors considered are those for thromboxane, bradykinin, and for the nerve growth factor TrKA. Other important receptors such as galectin-3, thrombospondin, and laminin are also discussed. Investigation into the molecular biology and cell biology of host receptors for T. cruzi may provide novel therapeutic targets.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2009 · Parasitology Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infection with Trypanosoma cruzi causes megasyndromes of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to monitor alterations in the GI tract of T. cruzi-infected mice, and to assess the role of nitric oxide (NO) in the development of intestinal dilation. Brazil strain-infected C57BL/6 wild-type (WT) mice exhibited dilatation of the intestines by 30 days post-infection. Average intestine lumen diameter increased by 72%. Levels of intestinal NO synthase (NOS) isoforms, NOS2 and NOS3, were elevated in infected WT mice. Inflammation and ganglionitis were observed in all infected mice. Intestinal dilation was observed in infected WT, NOS1, NOS2, and NOS3 null mice. This study demonstrates that MRI is a useful tool to monitor intestinal dilation in living mice and that these alterations may begin during acute infection. Furthermore, our data strongly suggests that NO may not be the sole contributor to intestinal dysfunction resulting from this infection.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2008 · The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protein kinase A (PKA) is an important mediator of many signal transduction pathways that occur in eukaryotic cells, and it has been implicated as a regulator of stage differentiation in Trypanosoma cruzi. To evaluate the importance of the PKA catalytic subunit of T. cruzi (TcPKAc), a gene encoding a PKA inhibitor (PKI) containing a specific PKA pseudosubstrate, R-R-N-A, was subcloned into a pTREX vector and introduced into epimastigotes by electroporation. Expression of PKI has a lethal effect in this parasite. Similarly, a pharmacological inhibitor, H89, killed epimastigotes at a concentration of 10 muM. To understand the biology of PKA, identification of the particular substrates of this enzyme is essential. Using a yeast two-hybrid system, 38 candidates interacting with TcPKAc were identified. Eighteen of these were hypothetical proteins with unknown functions, while the others had putative or known functions. The entire open reading frames of eight genes presumably important in regulating T. cruzi growth, adaptation, and differentiation, including a type III PI3 kinase (Vps34), a putative PI3 kinase, a putative mitogen-activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase, a cyclic AMP (cAMP)-specific phosphodiesterase (PDEC2), a hexokinase, a putative ATPase, a DNA excision repair protein, and an aquaporin were confirmed to interact with TcPKAc in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae under the highest stringency selection conditions, and PKA phosphorylated the recombinant proteins of these genes. Taken together, these findings demonstrate the importance of cAMP-PKA signaling in this organism.
Preview · Article · Sep 2008 · Infection and immunity
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gap junction proteins (connexins) are required for myocardial function, since they allow intercellular transmission of current carrying ions and signaling molecules. Previous studies demonstrated that rat cardiac myocytes infected with Trypanosoma cruzi lost gap junctional communication and decreased automaticity. We infected mouse cardiac myocytes with trypomastigotes of the Y strain of T. cruzi and observed alterations in connexin43 (Cx43) distribution. One hour post infection Cx43 levels were significantly increased. However, at longer time points post infection there was a significant loss of Cx43 staining in membranes of infected cardiac myocytes. Interestingly, there was also a significant reduction in myocardial Cx43 protein levels during acute infection. These data indicate that T. cruzi infection alters Cx43 expression both in vitro and in vivo. Disruptions in Cx43 may contribute to the pathogenesis of cardiac electrical alterations observed in T. cruzi infection.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2008 · Microbes and Infection
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chagas' disease is caused by infection with the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. We report that infected, but not uninfected, human endothelial cells (ECs) released thromboxane A(2) (TXA(2)). Physical chromatography and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry revealed that TXA(2) is the predominant eicosanoid present in all life stages of T. cruzi. Parasite-derived TXA(2) accounts for up to 90% of the circulating levels of TXA(2) in infected wild-type mice, and perturbs host physiology. Mice in which the gene for the TXA(2) receptor (TP) has been deleted, exhibited higher mortality and more severe cardiac pathology and parasitism (fourfold) than WT mice after infection. Conversely, deletion of the TXA(2) synthase gene had no effect on survival or disease severity. TP expression on somatic cells, but not cells involved in either acquired or innate immunity, was the primary determinant of disease progression. The higher intracellular parasitism observed in TP-null ECs was ablated upon restoration of TP expression. We conclude that the host response to parasite-derived TXA(2) in T. cruzi infection is possibly an important determinant of mortality and parasitism. A deeper understanding of the role of TXA(2) may result in novel therapeutic targets for a disease with limited treatment options.
Full-text · Article · May 2007 · Journal of Experimental Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endothelin has been implicated in the pathogenesis of experimental and human Chagas' disease (American trypanosomiasis). In the present study, we tested the effect of bosentan, an antagonist of both ET(A) and ET(B) endothelin receptors, on parasitemia, histopathology (heart and diaphragm), heart levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-10, interferon (IFN)-gamma, CCL2, CCL3 and CCL5, and the serum levels of nitrate/nitrite (NOx). Bosentan treatment was accompanied by a significant increase in parasitemia and tissue parasitism or inflammation. In vehicle-treated rats, Trypanosoma cruzi infection increased the cardiac levels of TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma and IL-10, at day 9 post inoculation, and the TNF-alpha remained elevated until day 13. The infection also caused a significant increase in the cardiac levels of the chemokines CCL2 (9, 13 and 18 days) and CCL3 (13 and 18 days). Bosentan-treatment had no significant effect on the infection-associated increase in IFN-gamma and chemokine concentrations. There was a lower increase in IL-10 at day 9 and this was mirrored by a greater increase of TNF-alpha at day 13, in comparison with vehicle-treated rats. These latter findings correlated well with the enhanced inflammatory process in hearts of bosentan-treated infected rats. Bosentan treatment reduced the infection-associated increase in NOx serum concentration. Altogether, our data suggest that ET action on ET(A) and ET(B) receptors may play a role in the initial control of T. cruzi infection in rats probably by interfering in NO production.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2006 · Microbes and Infection