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Category: publications

Defense-Related Gene Expression Following an Orthotospovirus Infection Is Influenced by Host Resistance in Arachis hypogaea

Planting resistant cultivars is the most effective tactic to manage the thrips-transmitted tomato spotted wilt orthotospovirus (TSWV) in peanut plants. However, molecular mechanisms conferring resistance to TSWV in resistant cultivars are unknown. In this study, transcriptomes of TSWV-susceptible (SunOleic 97R) and field-resistant (Tifguard) peanut cultivars with and without TSWV infection were assembled and differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were compared. There were 4605 and 2579 significant DEGs in SunOleic 97R and Tifguard, respectively. Despite the lower number of DEGs in Tifguard, an increased proportion of defense-related genes were upregulated in Tifguard than in the susceptible cultivar. Examples included disease resistance (R) proteins, leucine-rich repeats, stilbene synthase, dicer, and calmodulin. Pathway analysis revealed the increased downregulation of genes associated with defense and photosynthesis in the susceptible cultivar rather than in the resistant cultivar. These results suggest that essential physiological functions were less perturbed in the resistant cultivar than in the susceptible cultivar and that the defense response following TSWV infection was more robust in the resistant cultivar than in the susceptible cultivar.

Michael A Catto, Anita Shrestha, Mark R Abney, Donald E Champagne, Albert K Culbreath, Soraya C M Leal-Bertioli, Brendan G Hunt, Rajagopalbabu Srinivasan. Viruses. 2021 Jul 5;13(7):1303. doi: 10.3390/v13071303.

Mitochondrial Ca2+ and Reactive Oxygen Species in Trypanosomatids

Significance: Millions of people are infected with trypanosomatids and new therapeutic approaches are needed. Trypanosomatids possess one mitochondrion per cell, and its study has led to discoveries of general biological interest. These mitochondria, as their animal counterparts, generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) and have enzymatic and non-enzymatic defenses against them. Mitochondrial calcium ion (Ca2+) overload leads to the generation of ROS and its study could lead to relevant information on the biology of trypanosomatids and to novel drug targets. Recent Advances: Mitochondrial Ca2+ is normally involved in maintaining the bioenergetics of trypanosomes but when Ca2+ overload occurs it is associated to cell death. Trypanosomes lack key players of the mechanism of cell death described in mammalian cells although mitochondrial Ca2+ overload results in collapse of their membrane potential, production of ROS, and cytochrome c release. They are also very resistant to mitochondrial permeability transition, and cell death after mitochondrial Ca2+ overload depends on the generation of ROS.

Critical issues: In this review, we consider the mechanisms of mitochondrial oxidant generation and removal, and the involvement of Ca2+ in trypanosome cell death.

Future directions: More studies are required to determine the reactions involved in the generation of ROS by the mitochondria of trypanosomatids, their enzymatic and non-enzymatic defenses against ROS, and the occurrence and composition of a mitochondrial permeability transition pore.

Roberto Docampo, Anibal Eugênio Vercesi. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2021 Jul 4. doi: 10.1089/ars.2021.0058.

EdU Incorporation To Assess Cell Proliferation and Drug Susceptibility in Naegleria fowleri

Naegleria fowleri is a pathogenic free-living amoeba that is commonly found in warm freshwater and can cause a rapidly fulminant disease known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). New drugs are urgently needed to treat PAM, as the fatality rate is >97%. Until recently, few advances have been made in the discovery of new drugs for N. fowleri, and one drawback is the lack of validated tools and methods to enhance drug discovery and diagnostics research. In this study, we aimed to validate alternative methods to assess cell proliferation that are commonly used for other cell types and develop a novel drug screening assay to evaluate drug efficacy on N. fowleri replication. EdU (5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine) is a pyrimidine analog of thymidine that can be used as a quantitative endpoint for cell proliferation. EdU incorporation is detected via a copper catalyzed click reaction with an Alexa Fluor-linked azide. EdU incorporation in replicating N. fowleri was validated using fluorescence microscopy, and quantitative methods for assessing EdU incorporation were developed by using an imaging flow cytometer. Currently used PAM therapeutics inhibited N. fowleri replication and EdU incorporation in vitro. EdA (7-deaza-2′-deoxy-7-ethynyladenosine), an adenine analog, also was incorporated by N. fowleri but was more cytotoxic than EdU. In summary, EdU incorporation could be used as a complimentary method for drug discovery for these neglected pathogens.

Emma V Troth, Dennis E Kyle. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2021 Jun 17;65(7):e0001721. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00017-21.

Characterization of the Tubovesicular Network in Plasmodium vivax Liver Stage Hypnozoites and Schizonts

Plasmodium is a genus of apicomplexan parasites which replicate in the liver before causing malaria. Plasmodium vivax can also persist in the liver as dormant hypnozoites and cause clinical relapse upon activation, but the molecular mechanisms leading to activation have yet to be discovered. In this study, we use high-resolution microscopy to characterize temporal changes of the P. vivax liver stage tubovesicular network (TVN), a parasitophorous vacuole membrane (PVM)-derived network within the host cytosol. We observe extended membrane clusters, tubules, and TVN-derived vesicles present throughout P. vivax liver stage development. Additionally, we demonstrate an unexpected presence of the TVN in hypnozoites and observe some association of this network to host nuclei. We also reveal that the host water and solute channel aquaporin-3 (AQP3) associates with TVN-derived vesicles and extended membrane clusters. AQP3 has been previously shown to localize to the PVM of P. vivax hypnozoites and liver schizonts but has not yet been shown in association to the TVN. Our results highlight host-parasite interactions occur in both dormant and replicating liver stage P. vivax forms and implicate AQP3 function during this time. Together, these findings enhance our understanding of P. vivax liver stage biology through characterization of the TVN with an emphasis on the presence of this network in dormant hypnozoites.

Kayla Sylvester, Steven P Maher, Dora Posfai, Michael K Tran, McKenna C Crawford, Amélie Vantaux, Benoît Witkowski, Dennis E Kyle, Emily R Derbyshire. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021 Jun 14;11:687019. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2021.687019. eCollection 2021

Challenges for Cryptosporidium Population Studies

Cryptosporidiosis is ranked sixth in the list of the most important food-borne parasites globally, and it is an important contributor to mortality in infants and the immunosuppressed. Recently, the number of genome sequences available for this parasite has increased drastically. The majority of the sequences are derived from population studies of Cryptosporidium parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis, the most important species causing disease in humans. Work with this parasite is challenging since it lacks an optimal, prolonged, in vitro culture system, which accurately reproduces the in vivo life cycle. This obstacle makes the cloning of isolates nearly impossible. Thus, patient isolates that are sequenced represent a population or, at times, mixed infections. Oocysts, the lifecycle stage currently used for sequencing, must be considered a population even if the sequence is derived from single-cell sequencing of a single oocyst because each oocyst contains four haploid meiotic progeny (sporozoites). Additionally, the community does not yet have a set of universal markers for strain typing that are distributed across all chromosomes. These variables pose challenges for population studies and require careful analyses to avoid biased interpretation. This review presents an overview of existing population studies, challenges, and potential solutions to facilitate future population analyses.

Baptista, Rodrigo P.; Cooper, Garrett W.; Kissinger, Jessica C. 2021. Genes 12, no. 6: 894.

Calcium signaling through a Transient Receptor Channel is important for Toxoplasma gondii growth

Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels participate in calcium ion (Ca2+) influx and intracellular Ca2+ release. TRP channels have not been studied in Toxoplasma gondii or any other apicomplexan parasite. In this work we characterize TgGT1_310560, a protein predicted to possess a TRP domain (TgTRPPL-2) and determined its role in Ca2+ signaling in T. gondii, the causative agent of toxoplasmosis. TgTRPPL-2 localizes to the plasma membrane and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of T. gondii. The ΔTgTRPPL-2 mutant was defective in growth and cytosolic Ca2+ influx from both extracellular and intracellular sources. Heterologous expression of TgTRPPL-2 in HEK-3KO cells allowed its functional characterization. Patching of ER-nuclear membranes demonstrates that TgTRPPL-2 is a non-selective cation channel that conducts Ca2+. Pharmacological blockers of TgTRPPL-2 inhibit Ca2+ influx and parasite growth. This is the first report of an apicomplexan ion channel that conducts Ca2+ and may initiate a Ca2+ signaling cascade that leads to the stimulation of motility, invasion and egress. TgTRPPL-2 is a potential target for combating Toxoplasmosis.

Karla Marie Marquez-Nogueras, Myriam Andrea Hortua Triana, Nathan M Chasen, Ivana Y Kuo, Silvia NJ Moreno. Elife. 2021 Jun 9;10:e63417. doi: 10.7554/eLife.63417.

Diet-Microbiota Interactions Alter Mosquito Development

Gut microbes and diet can both strongly affect the biology of multicellular animals, but it is often difficult to disentangle microbiota-diet interactions due to the complex microbial communities many animals harbor and the nutritionally variable diets they consume. While theoretical and empirical studies indicate that greater microbiota diversity is beneficial for many animal hosts, there have been few tests performed in aquatic invertebrates. Most mosquito species are aquatic detritivores during their juvenile stages that harbor variable microbiotas and consume diets that range from nutrient rich to nutrient poor. In this study, we produced a gnotobiotic model that allowed us to examine how interactions between specific gut microbes and diets affect the fitness of Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito. Using a simplified seven-member community of bacteria (ALL7) and various laboratory and natural mosquito diets, we allowed larval mosquitoes to develop under different microbial and dietary conditions and measured the resulting time to adulthood and adult size. Larvae inoculated with the ALL7 or a more complex community developed similarly when fed nutrient-rich rat chow or fish food laboratory diets, whereas larvae inoculated with individual bacterial members of the ALL7 community exhibited few differences in development when fed a rat chow diet but exhibited large differences in performance when fed a fish food diet. In contrast, the ALL7 community largely failed to support the growth of larvae fed field-collected detritus diets unless supplemented with additional protein or yeast. Collectively, our results indicate that mosquito development and fitness are strongly contingent on both diet and microbial community composition.

Vincent G Martinson, Michael R Strand. Front Microbiol. 2021 Jun 8;12:650743. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.650743. eCollection 2021.

Trypanosoma cruzi Letm1 is involved in mitochondrial Ca 2+ transport, and is essential for replication, differentiation, and host cell invasion

Leucine zipper-EF-hand containing transmembrane protein 1 (Letm1) is a mitochondrial inner membrane protein involved in Ca2+ and K+ homeostasis in mammalian cells. Here, we demonstrate that the Letm1 orthologue of Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiologic agent of Chagas disease, is important for mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake and release. The results show that both mitochondrial Ca2+ influx and efflux are reduced in TcLetm1 knockdown (TcLetm1-KD) cells and increased in TcLetm1 overexpressing cells, without alterations in the mitochondrial membrane potential. Remarkably, TcLetm1 knockdown or overexpression increases or does not affect mitochondrial Ca2+ levels in epimastigotes, respectively. TcLetm1-KD epimastigotes have reduced growth, and both overexpression and knockdown of TcLetm1 cause a defect in metacyclogenesis. TcLetm1-KD also affected mitochondrial bioenergetics. Invasion of host cells by TcLetm1-KD trypomastigotes and their intracellular replication is greatly impaired. Taken together, our findings indicate that TcLetm1 is important for Ca2+ homeostasis and cell viability in T cruzi.

Guilherme Rodrigo Rm Dos Santos, Ana Catarina Rezende Leite, Noelia Lander, Miguel Angel Chiurillo, Aníbal Eugênio Vercesi, Roberto Docampo. FASEB J. 2021 Jul;35(7):e21685. doi: 10.1096/fj.202100120RR

Lacto-N-fucopentaose-III ameliorates acute and persisting hippocampal synaptic plasticity and transmission deficits in a Gulf War Illness mouse model

Aims: The present study investigated if treatment with the immunotherapeutic, lacto-N-fucopentaose-III (LNFPIII), resulted in amelioration of acute and persisting deficits in synaptic plasticity and transmission as well as trophic factor expression along the hippocampal dorsoventral axis in a mouse model of Gulf War Illness (GWI).

Main methods: Mice received either coadministered or delayed LNFPIII treatment throughout or following, respectively, exposure to a 15-day GWI induction paradigm. Subsets of animals were subsequently sacrificed 48 h, seven months, or 11 months post GWI-related (GWIR) exposure for hippocampal qPCR or in vitro electrophysiology experiments.

Key findings: Progressively worsened impairments in hippocampal synaptic plasticity, as well as a biphasic effect on hippocampal synaptic transmission, were detected in GWIR-exposed animals. Dorsoventral-specific impairments in hippocampal synaptic responses became more pronounced over time, particularly in the dorsal hippocampus. Notably, delayed LNFPIII treatment ameliorated GWI-related aberrations in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and transmission seven and 11 months post-exposure, an effect that was consistent with enhanced hippocampal trophic factor expression and absence of increased interleukin 6 (IL-6) in animals treated with LNFPIII.

Significance: Approximately a third of Gulf War Veterans have GWI; however, GWI therapeutics are presently limited to targeted and symptomatic treatments. As increasing evidence underscores the substantial role of persisting neuroimmune dysfunction in GWI, efficacious neuroactive immunotherapeutics hold substantial promise in yielding GWI remission. The findings in the present report indicate that LNFPIII may be an efficacious candidate for ameliorating persisting neurological abnormalities presented in GWI.

Kyle A Brown, Jessica M Carpenter, Collin J Preston, Helaina D Ludwig, Kendall B Clay, Donald A Harn, Thomas Norberg, John J Wagner, Nikolay M Filipov. Life Sci. 2021 Jun 5;119707. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2021.119707

Lack of detectable short-term effects of a single dose of ivermectin on the human immune system

Background: Ivermectin is widely used in human and animal medicine to treat and prevent parasite nematode infections. It has been suggested that its mode of action requires the host immune system, as it is difficult to reproduce its clinical efficacy in vitro. We therefore studied the effects of a single dose of ivermectin (Stromectol®-0.15 mg/kg) on cytokine levels and immune cell gene expression in human volunteers. This dose reduces bloodstream microfilariae rapidly and for several months when given in mass drug administration programmes.

Methods: Healthy volunteers with no travel history to endemic regions were given 3-4 tablets, depending on their weight, of either ivermectin or a placebo. Blood samples were drawn immediately prior to administration, 4 h and 24 h afterwards, and complete blood counts performed. Serum levels of 41 cytokines and chemokines were measured using Luminex® and expression levels of 770 myeloid-cell-related genes determined using the NanoString nCounter®. Cytokine levels at 4 h and 24 h post-treatment were compared to the levels pre-treatment using simple t tests to determine if any individual results required further investigation, taking p = < 0.05 as the level of significance. NanoString data were analysed on the proprietary software, nSolver™.

Results: No significant differences were observed in complete blood counts or cytokine levels at either time point between people given ivermectin versus placebo. Only three genes showed a significant change in expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells 4 h after ivermectin was given; there were no significant changes 24 h after drug administration or in polymorphonuclear cells at either time point. Leukocytes isolated from those participants given ivermectin showed no difference in their ability to kill Brugia malayi microfilariae in vitro.

Conclusions: Overall, our data do not support a direct effect of ivermectin, when given at the dose used in current filarial elimination programmes, on the human immune system. Trial registration NCT03459794 Registered 9th March 2018, Retrospectively registered .

Natalie E Wilson, Barbara J Reaves, Adrian J Wolstenholme. Parasit Vectors. 2021 Jun 5;14(1):304. doi: 10.1186/s13071-021-04810-6.