Trypanosoma brucei is the causative agent of African trypanosomiasis, a deadly disease that affects humans and cattle. There are very few drugs to treat it, and there is evidence of mounting resistance, raising the need for new drug development. Here, we report the presence of a phosphoinositide phospholipase C (TbPI-PLC-like), containing an X and a PDZ domain, that is similar to the previously characterized TbPI-PLC1. TbPI-PLC-like only possesses the X catalytic domain and does not have the EF-hand, Y, and C2 domains, having instead a PDZ domain. Recombinant TbPI-PLC-like does not hydrolyze phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) and does not modulate TbPI-PLC1 activity in vitro. TbPI-PLC-like shows a plasma membrane and intracellular localization in permeabilized cells and a surface localization in non-permeabilized cells. Surprisingly, knockdown of TbPI-PLC-like expression by RNAi significantly affected proliferation of both procyclic and bloodstream trypomastigotes. This is in contrast with the lack of effect of downregulation of expression of TbPI-PLC1.
The carbazole CBL0137 (1) is a lead for drug development against human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), a disease caused by Trypanosoma brucei. To advance 1 as a candidate drug, we synthesized new analogs that were evaluated for the physicochemical properties, antitrypanosome potency, selectivity against human cells, metabolism in microsomes or hepatocytes, and efflux ratios. Structure-activity/property analyses of analogs revealed eight new compounds with higher or equivalent selectivity indices (5j, 5t, 5v, 5w, 5y, 8d, 13i, and 22e). Based on the overall compound profiles, compounds 5v and 5w were selected for assessment in a mouse model of HAT; while 5v demonstrated a lead-like profile for HAT drug development, 5w showed a lack of efficacy. Lessons from these studies will inform further optimization of carbazoles for HAT and other indications.
Baljinder Singh, Amrita Sharma, Naresh Gunaganti, Mitch Rivers, Pradip K Gadekar, Brady Greene, Michael Chichioco, Carlos E Sanz-Rodriguez, Courtney Fu, Catherine LeBlanc, Erin Burchfield, Nyle Sharif, Benjamin Hoffman, Gaurav Kumar, Andrei Purmal, Kojo Mensa-Wilmot, Michael P Pollastri. J Med Chem. 2023 Jan 25. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.2c01767.
NEU-4438 is a lead for the development of drugs against Trypanosoma brucei, which causes human African trypanosomiasis. Optimized with phenotypic screening, targets of NEU-4438 are unknown. Herein, we present a cell perturbome workflow that compares NEU-4438’s molecular modes of action to those of SCYX-7158 (acoziborole). Following a 6 h perturbation of trypanosomes, NEU-4438 and acoziborole reduced steady-state amounts of 68 and 92 unique proteins, respectively. After analysis of proteomes, hypotheses formulated for modes of action were tested: Acoziborole and NEU-4438 have different modes of action. Whereas NEU-4438 prevented DNA biosynthesis and basal body maturation, acoziborole destabilized CPSF3 and other proteins, inhibited polypeptide translation, and reduced endocytosis of haptoglobin-hemoglobin. These data point to CPSF3-independent modes of action for acoziborole. In case of polypharmacology, the cell-perturbome workflow elucidates modes of action because it is target-agnostic. Finally, the workflow can be used in any cell that is amenable to proteomic and molecular biology experiments.
African trypanosomes utilize glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) to evade the host immune system. VSG turnover is thought to be mediated via cleavage of the GPI anchor by endogenous GPI-specific phospholipase C (GPI-PLC). However, GPI-PLC is topologically sequestered from VSG substrates in intact cells. Recently, A. J. Szempruch, S. E. Sykes, R. Kieft, L. Dennison, et al. (Cell 164:246-257, 2016, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2015.11.051) demonstrated the release of nanotubes that septate to form free VSG+ extracellular vesicles (EVs). Here, we evaluated the relative contributions of GPI hydrolysis and EV formation to VSG turnover in wild-type (WT) and GPI-PLC null cells. The turnover rate of VSG was consistent with prior measurements (half-life [t1/2] of ∼26 h) but dropped significantly in the absence of GPI-PLC (t1/2 of ∼36 h). Ectopic complementation restored normal turnover rates, confirming the role of GPI-PLC in turnover. However, physical characterization of shed VSG in WT cells indicated that at least 50% is released directly from cell membranes with intact GPI anchors. Shedding of EVs plays an insignificant role in total VSG turnover in both WT and null cells. In additional studies, GPI-PLC was found to have no role in biosynthetic and endocytic trafficking to the lysosome but did influence the rate of receptor-mediated endocytosis. These results indicate that VSG turnover is a bimodal process involving both direct shedding and GPI hydrolysis. IMPORTANCE African trypanosomes, the protozoan agent of human African trypanosomaisis, avoid the host immune system by switching expression of the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG). VSG is a long-lived protein that has long been thought to be turned over by hydrolysis of its glycolipid membrane anchor. Recent work demonstrating the shedding of VSG-containing extracellular vesicles has led us to reinvestigate the mode of VSG turnover. We found that VSG is shed in part by glycolipid hydrolysis but also in approximately equal part by direct shedding of protein with intact lipid anchors. Shedding of exocytic vesicles made a very minor contribution to overall VSG turnover. These results indicate that VSG turnover is a bimodal process and significantly alter our understanding of the “life cycle” of this critical virulence factor.
Paige Garrison, Umaer Khan, Michael Cipriano, Peter J Bush, Jacquelyn McDonald, Aakash Sur, Peter J Myler, Terry K Smith, Stephen L Hajduk, James D Bangs. mBio. 2021 Jul 27;e0172521. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01725-21.
The bloodstream stage of Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of African trypanosomiasis, is characterized by its high rate of endocytosis, which is involved in remodeling of its surface coat. Here we present evidence that RNAi-mediated expression down-regulation of vacuolar protein sorting 41 (Vps41), a component of the homotypic fusion and vacuole protein sorting (HOPS) complex, leads to a strong inhibition of endocytosis, vesicle accumulation, enlargement of the flagellar pocket (“big eye” phenotype), and dramatic effect on cell growth. Unexpectedly, other functions described for Vps41 in mammalian cells and yeasts, such as delivery of proteins to lysosomes, and lysosome-related organelles (acidocalcisomes) were unaffected, indicating that in trypanosomes post-Golgi trafficking is distinct from that of mammalian cells and yeasts. The essentiality of TbVps41 suggests that it is a potential drug target.
The single mitochondrial nucleoid (kinetoplast) of Trypanosoma brucei is found proximal to a basal body (mature (mBB)/probasal body (pBB) pair). Kinetoplast inheritance requires synthesis of, and scission of kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) generating two kinetoplasts that segregate with basal bodies into daughter cells. Molecular details of kinetoplast scission and the extent to which basal body separation influences the process are unavailable. To address this topic, we followed basal body movements in bloodstream trypanosomes following depletion of protein kinase TbCK1.2 which promotes kinetoplast division. In control cells we found that pBBs are positioned 0.4 um from mBBs in G1, and they mature after separating from mBBs by at least 0.8 um: mBB separation reaches ~2.2 um. These data indicate that current models of basal body biogenesis in which pBBs mature in close proximity to mBBs may need to be revisited. Knockdown of TbCK1.2 produced trypanosomes containing one kinetoplast and two nuclei (1K2N), increased the percentage of cells with uncleaved kDNA 400%, decreased mBB spacing by 15%, and inhibited cytokinesis 300%. We conclude that (a) separation of mBBs beyond a threshold of 1.8 um correlates with division of kDNA, and (b) TbCK1.2 regulates kDNA scission. We propose a Kinetoplast Division Factor hypothesis that integrates these data into a pathway for biogenesis of two daughter mitochondrial nucleoids.
Trypanosoma brucei, a protist parasite that causes African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness, relies mainly on glycolysis for ATP production when in its mammalian host. Glycolysis occurs within a peroxisome-like organelle named the glycosome. Previous work from our laboratory reported the presence of significant amounts of inorganic polyphosphate (polyP), a polymer of three to hundreds of orthophosphate units, in the glycosomes and nucleoli of T. brucei In this work, we identified and characterized the activity of two Nudix hydrolases, TbNH2 and TbNH4, one located in the glycosomes and the other in the cytosol and nucleus, respectively, that can degrade polyP. We found that TbNH2 is an exopolyphosphatase with higher activity on short chain polyP, while TbNH4 is an endo- and exopolyphosphatase that has similar activity on polyP of various chain sizes. Both enzymes have higher activity at around pH 8.0. We also found that only TbNH2 can dephosphorylate ATP and ADP but with lower affinity than for polyP. Our results suggest that Nudix hydrolases can participate in polyP homeostasis and therefore may help control polyP levels in glycosomes, cytosol and nuclei of T. brucei.
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Inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi) is a by-product of biosynthetic reactions and has bioenergetic and regulatory roles in a variety of cells. Here we show that PPi and other pyrophosphate-containing compounds, including polyphosphate (polyP), can stimulate sodium-dependent depolarization of the membrane potential and Pi conductance in Xenopus oocytes expressing a Saccharomyces cerevisiae or Trypanosoma brucei Na+/Pi symporter. PPi is not taken up by Xenopus oocytes, and deletion of the TbPho91 SPX domain abolished its depolarizing effect. PPi generated outward currents in Na+/Pi-loaded giant vacuoles prepared from wild-type or pho91Δ yeast strains expressing TbPHO91 but not from the pho91Δ strains. Our results suggest that PPi, at physiological concentrations, can function as a signaling molecule releasing Pi from S. cerevisiae vacuoles and T. brucei acidocalcisomes.
IMPORTANCE Acidocalcisomes, first described in trypanosomes and known to be present in a variety of cells, have similarities with S. cerevisiae vacuoles in their structure and composition. Both organelles share a Na+/Pisymporter involved in Pi release to the cytosol, where it is needed for biosynthetic reactions. Here we show that PPi, at physiological cytosolic concentrations, stimulates the symporter expressed in either Xenopus oocytes or yeast vacuoles via its SPX domain, revealing a signaling role of this molecule.
The mitochondrial calcium uniporter complex (MCUC) is a highly selective channel that conducts calcium ions across the organelle inner membrane. We previously characterized Trypanosoma brucei’s MCU (TbMCU) as an essential component of the MCUC required for parasite viability and infectivity. In this study, we characterize its paralog T. brucei MCUb (TbMCUb) and report the identification of two novel components of the complex that we named TbMCUc and TbMCUd. These new MCUC proteins are unique and conserved only in trypanosomatids. In situ tagging and immunofluorescence microscopy revealed that they colocalize with TbMCU and TbMCUb to the mitochondria of T. brucei. Blue Native PAGE and immunodetection analyses indicated that the MCUC proteins exist in a large protein complex with a molecular weight of approximately 380 kDa. RNA interference (RNAi) or overexpression of the TbMCUc and TbMCUd genes significantly reduced or enhanced mitochondrial Ca2+uptake in T. brucei, respectively, without affecting the mitochondrial membrane potential, indicating that they are essential components of the MCUC of this parasite. The specific interactions of TbMCU with TbMCUb, TbMCUc, or TbMCUd were confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation and split-ubiquitin membrane-based yeast two-hybrid (MYTH) assays. Furthermore, combining mutagenesis analysis with MYTH assays revealed that transmembrane helices (TMHs) were determinant of the interactions between TbMCUC subunits. In summary, our study has identified two novel essential components of the MCUC of T. brucei and defined their direct physical interactions with the other subunits that result in a hetero-oligomeric MCUC.