[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infectious agents develop intricate mechanisms to interact with host cell pathways and hijack their genetic and epigenetic machinery to change host cell phenotypic states. Among the Apicomplexa phylum of obligate intracellular parasites, which cause veterinary and human diseases, Theileria is the only genus that transforms its mammalian host cells1. Theileria infection of bovine leukocytes induces proliferative and invasive phenotypes associated with activated signalling pathways, notably JNK and AP-1 (ref. 2). The transformed phenotypes are reversed by treatment with the theilericidal drug buparvaquone3. We used comparative genomics to identify a homologue of the peptidyl-prolyl isomerase PIN1 in T. annulata (TaPIN1) that is secreted into the host cell and modulates oncogenic signalling pathways. Here we show that TaPIN1 is a bona fide prolyl isomerase and that it interacts with the host ubiquitin ligase FBW7, leading to its degradation and subsequent stabilization of c-JUN, which promotes transformation. We performed in vitro and in silico analysis and in vivo zebrafish xenograft experiments to demonstrate that TaPIN1 is directly inhibited by the anti-parasite drug buparvaquone (and other known PIN1 inhibitors) and is mutated in a drug-resistant strain. Prolyl isomerization is thus a conserved mechanism that is important in cancer and is used by Theileria parasites to manipulate host oncogenic signalling.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Complex links between infection and cancer suggest that we still can learn much about tumorigenesis by studying how infectious agents hijack the host cell machinery. We studied the effects of an intracellular parasite called Theileria that infects bovine leukocytes and turns them into invasive cancer-like cells. We investigated the host cells pathways that are deregulated in infected leukocytes and might link infection and lymphoproliferative disease. We show that intracellular Theileria parasites drive a Warburg-like phenotype in infected host leukocytes, characterized by increased expression of metabolic regulators, increased glucose uptake and elevated lactate production, which were lost when the parasite was eliminated. The cohabitation of the parasites within the host cells leads to disruption of the redox balance (as measured by reduced/oxidized glutathione ratio) and elevated ROS (reactive oxygen species) levels, associated with chronic stabilization of the hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF1α). Inhibition of HIF1α (pharmacologically or genetically), or treatment with antioxidants, led to a marked reduction in expression of aerobic glycolytic genes and inhibited the transformed phenotype. These data show that stabilization of HIF1α, following increased ROS production, modulates host glucose metabolism and is critical for parasite-induced transformation. Our study expands knowledge about the molecular strategy used by the parasite Theileria to induce the transformed phenotypes of infected cells via reprogramming of glucose metabolism and redox signaling.Oncogene advance online publication, 13 May 2013; doi:10.1038/onc.2013.134.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The intracellular parasite Theileria is the only eukaryote known to transform its mammalian host cells. We investigated the host mechanisms involved in parasite-induced transformation phenotypes. Tumour progression is a multistep process, yet 'oncogene addiction' implies that cancer cell growth and survival can be impaired by inactivating a single gene, offering a rationale for targeted molecular therapies. Furthermore, feedback loops often act as key regulatory hubs in tumorigenesis. We searched for microRNAs involved in addiction to regulatory loops in leukocytes infected with Theileria parasites. We show that Theileria transformation involves induction of the host bovine oncomiR miR-155, via the c-Jun transcription factor and AP-1 activity. We identified a novel miR-155 target, DET1, an evolutionarily-conserved factor involved in c-Jun ubiquitination. We show that miR-155 expression led to repression of DET1 protein, causing stabilization of c-Jun and driving the promoter activity of the BIC transcript containing miR-155. This positive feedback loop is critical to maintain the growth and survival of Theileria-infected leukocytes; transformation is reversed by inhibiting AP-1 activity or miR-155 expression. This is the first demonstration that Theileria parasites induce the expression of host non-coding RNAs and highlights the importance of a novel feedback loop in maintaining the proliferative phenotypes induced upon parasite infection. Hence, parasite infection drives epigenetic rewiring of the regulatory circuitry of host leukocytes, placing miR-155 at the crossroads between infection, regulatory circuits and transformation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Upregulation of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 plays a central role in tumor progression and metastasis by stimulating cell migration, tumor invasion, and angiogenesis. To gain insights into MMP-9 expression, we investigated its epigenetic control in a reversible model of cancer that is initiated by infection with intracellular Theileria parasites. Gene induction by parasite infection was associated with trimethylation of histone H3K4 (H3K4me3) at the MMP-9 promoter. Notably, we found that the H3K4 methyltransferase SMYD3 was the only histone methyltransferase upregulated upon infection. SMYD3 is overexpressed in many types of cancer cells, but its contributions to malignant pathophysiology are unclear. We found that overexpression of SMYD3 was sufficient to induce MMP-9 expression in transformed leukocytes and fibrosarcoma cells and that proinflammatory phorbol esters further enhanced this effect. Furthermore, SMYD3 was sufficient to increase cell migration associated with MMP-9 expression. In contrast, RNA interference-mediated knockdown of SMYD3 decreased H3K4me3 modification of the MMP-9 promoter, reduced MMP-9 expression, and reduced tumor cell proliferation. Furthermore, SMYD3 knockdown also reduced cellular invasion in a zebrafish xenograft model of cancer. Together, our results define SMYD3 as an important new regulator of MMP-9 transcription, and they provide a molecular link between SMYD3 overexpression and metastatic cancer progression.