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1.  Adhesion of Tritrichomonas foetus to Bovine Vaginal Epithelial Cells 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(8):3847-3854.
An in vitro culture system of bovine vaginal epithelial cells (BVECs) was developed to study the cytopathogenic effects of Tritrichomonas foetus and the role of lipophosphoglycan (LPG)-like cell surface glycoconjugates in adhesion of parasites to host cells. Exposure of BVEC monolayers to T. foetus resulted in extensive damage of monolayers. Host cell disruption was measured quantitatively by a trypan blue exclusion assay and by release of 3H from [3H]thymidine-labeled host cells. Results indicated contact-dependent cytotoxicity of host cells by T. foetus. The cytopathogenic effect was a function of T. foetus density. Metronidazole- or periodate-treated T. foetus showed no damage to BVEC monolayers. A related human trichomonad, Trichomonas vaginalis, showed no cytotoxic effects, indicating species-specific host-parasite interactions. A direct binding assay was developed and used to investigate the role of a major cell surface LPG-like molecule in host-parasite adhesion. The results of competition experiments showed that the binding to BVECs was displaceable, was saturable, and yielded a typical binding curve, suggesting that specific receptor-ligand interactions mediate the attachment of T. foetus to BVECs. Progesterone-treated BVECs showed enhanced parasite binding. T. foetus LPG inhibited the binding of T. foetus to BVECs; the LPG from T. vaginalis and a variety of other glycoconjugates did not. These data imply specificity of LPG on host-parasite adhesion. Periodate-treated parasites showed no adherence to host cells, indicating the involvement of carbohydrate containing molecules in the adhesion process.
PMCID: PMC96664  PMID: 10417148
2.  The Villain Team-Up or how Trichomonas vaginalis and bacterial vaginosis alter innate immunity in concert 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2013;89(6):460-466.
Complex interactions of vaginal microorganisms with the genital tract epithelium shape mucosal innate immunity, which holds the key to sexual and reproductive health. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a microbiome-disturbance syndrome prevalent in reproductive-age women, occurs commonly in concert with trichomoniasis, and both are associated with increased risk of adverse reproductive outcomes and viral infections, largely attributable to inflammation. To investigate the causative relationships among inflammation, BV and trichomoniasis, we established a model of human cervicovaginal epithelial cells colonised by vaginal Lactobacillus isolates, dominant in healthy women, and common BV species (Atopobium vaginae, Gardnerella vaginalis and Prevotella bivia).
Colonised epithelia were infected with Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) or exposed to purified TV virulence factors (membrane lipophosphoglycan (LPG), its ceramide-phosphoinositol-glycan core (CPI-GC) or the endosymbiont Trichomonas vaginalis virus (TVV)), followed by assessment of bacterial colony-forming units, the mucosal anti-inflammatory microbicide secretory leucocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), and chemokines that drive pro-inflammatory, antigen-presenting and T cells.
TV reduced colonisation by Lactobacillus but not by BV species, which were found inside epithelial cells. TV increased interleukin (IL)-8 and suppressed SLPI, likely via LPG/CPI-GC, and upregulated IL-8 and RANTES, likely via TVV as suggested by use of purified pathogenic determinants. BV species A vaginae and G vaginalis induced IL-8 and RANTES, and also amplified the pro-inflammatory responses to both LPG/CPI-GC and TVV, whereas P bivia suppressed the TV/TVV-induced chemokines.
These molecular host–parasite–endosymbiont–bacteria interactions explain epidemiological associations and suggest a revised paradigm for restoring vaginal immunity and preventing BV/TV-attributable inflammatory sequelae in women.
PMCID: PMC3746192  PMID: 23903808
3.  Impact of T. Vaginalis Infection on Innate Immune Responses and Reproductive Outcome 
Journal of reproductive immunology  2009;83(1-2):185-189.
Trichomonas vaginalis is the most common non-viral sexually transmitted pathogen. The infection is prevalent in reproductive age women and is associated with vaginitis, endometritis, adnexitis, pyosalpinx, infertility, preterm birth, low birth weight, bacterial vaginosis, and increased risk of cervical cancer, HPV, and HIV infection. In men, its complications include urethritis, prostatitis, epididymitis, and infertility through inflammatory damage or interference with the sperm function. The infection is often asymptomatic and recurrent despite the presence of specific antibodies, suggesting the importance of the innate immune defense. T. vaginalis adhesion proteins, cysteine proteases, and the major parasite lipophosphoglycan (LPG) play distinct roles in the pathogenesis and evasion of host immunity. LPG plays a key role in the parasite adherence and signaling to human vaginal and cervical epithelial cells, which is at least in part mediated by galectins. The epithelial cells respond to T. vaginalis infection and purified LPG by selective upregulation of proinflammatory mediators. At the same time, T. vaginalis triggers an immunosuppressive response in monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. The molecular mechanisms underlying reproductive complications and epidemiologic risks associated with T. vaginalis infection remain to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC2788009  PMID: 19850356
Trichomonas vaginalis; lipophosphoglycan; cytokines; galectins; human vaginal epithelial cells
4.  Trichomonas vaginalis Lipophosphoglycan Mutants Have Reduced Adherence and Cytotoxicity to Human Ectocervical Cells 
Eukaryotic Cell  2005;4(11):1951-1958.
The extracellular human pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis is covered by a dense glycocalyx thought to play a role in host-parasite interactions. The main component of the glycocalyx is lipophosphoglycan (LPG), a polysaccharide anchored in the plasma membrane by inositol phosphoceramide. To study the role of LPG in trichomonads, we produced T. vaginalis LPG mutants by chemical mutagenesis and lectin selection and characterized them using morphological, biochemical, and functional assays. Two independently selected LPG mutants, with growth rates comparable to that of the wild-type (parent) strain, lost the ability to bind the lectins Ricinnus comunis agglutinin I (RCA120) and wheat germ agglutinin, indicating alterations in surface galactose and glucosamine residues. LPG isolated from mutants migrated faster than parent strain LPG on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, suggesting the mutants had shorter LPG molecules. Dionex high-performance anion exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection analyses revealed galactosamine, glucosamine, galactose, glucose, mannose/xylose, and rhamnose as the main monosaccharides of T. vaginalis parent strain LPG. LPG from both mutants showed a reduction of galactose and glucosamine, corresponding with the reduced size of their LPG molecules and inability to bind the lectins RCA120 and wheat germ agglutinin. Mutant parasites were defective in attachment to plastic, a characteristic associated with avirulent strains of T. vaginalis. Moreover, the mutants were less adherent and less cytotoxic to human vaginal ectocervical cells in vitro than the parental strain. Finally, while parent strain LPG could inhibit the attachment of parent strain parasites to vaginal cells, LPG from either mutant could not inhibit attachment. These combined results demonstrate that T. vaginalis adherence to host cells is LPG mediated and that an altered LPG leads to reduced adherence and cytotoxicity of this parasite.
PMCID: PMC1287856  PMID: 16278462
5.  Trichomonas vaginalis Exosomes Deliver Cargo to Host Cells and Mediate Host∶Parasite Interactions 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(7):e1003482.
Trichomonas vaginalis is a common sexually transmitted parasite that colonizes the human urogential tract where it remains extracellular and adheres to epithelial cells. Infections range from asymptomatic to highly inflammatory, depending on the host and the parasite strain. Here, we use a combination of methodologies including cell fractionation, immunofluorescence and electron microscopy, RNA, proteomic and cytokine analyses and cell adherence assays to examine pathogenic properties of T. vaginalis. We have found that T.vaginalis produces and secretes microvesicles with physical and biochemical properties similar to mammalian exosomes. The parasite-derived exosomes are characterized by the presence of RNA and core, conserved exosomal proteins as well as parasite-specific proteins. We demonstrate that T. vaginalis exosomes fuse with and deliver their contents to host cells and modulate host cell immune responses. Moreover, exosomes from highly adherent parasite strains increase the adherence of poorly adherent parasites to vaginal and prostate epithelial cells. In contrast, exosomes from poorly adherent strains had no measurable effect on parasite adherence. Exosomes from parasite strains that preferentially bind prostate cells increased binding of parasites to these cells relative to vaginal cells. In addition to establishing that parasite exosomes act to modulate host∶parasite interactions, these studies are the first to reveal a potential role for exosomes in promoting parasite∶parasite communication and host cell colonization.
Author Summary
Trichomoniasis, the most common non-viral sexually transmitted disease worldwide, infects over 275 million people annually. Infection results from the colonization of the human urogenital tract by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. To establish and maintain infection the parasite adheres to host cells, a process that is poorly understood. Here, we show that T. vaginalis secretes small vesicles called exosomes that are capable of fusing with and delivering their contents to host cells. Parasite exosomes were found to induce changes in the host cell and to mediate the interaction of T. vaginalis with host by increasing the adherence of the parasite to host cells. Exosomes have been primarily studied in mammalian cells where they have been shown to mediate intercellular communication and have been implicated in processes including development, antigen presentation and cancer metastasis. Our data extend the function of exosomes to mediating host∶parasite interactions, cellular communication between two species and promoting colonization of an extracellular parasite. Research on T. vaginalis exosomes holds the potential for developing applications that would allow exosomes to be used in detecting and diagnosing trichomoniasis and for targeting drugs to the site of infection.
PMCID: PMC3708881  PMID: 23853596
6.  Structural details and composition of Trichomonas vaginalis lipophosphoglycan in relevance to the epithelial immune function 
Glycoconjugate journal  2008;26(1):3-17.
Trichomonas vaginalis causes the most common non-viral sexually transmitted infection linked to increased risk of premature birth, cervical cancer and HIV. This study defines molecular domains of the parasite surface glycol-conjugate lipophosphoglycan (LPG) with distinct functions in the host immunoinflammatory response. The ceramide phospho-inositol glycan core (CPI-GC) released by mild acid had Mr of ~8,700 Da determined by MALDI-TOF MS. Rha, GlcN, Gal and Xyl and small amounts of GalN and Glc were found in CPI-GC. N-acetyllactosamine repeats were identified by endo-β-galactosidase treatment followed by MALDI-MS and MS/MS and capLC/ESI-MS/MS analyses. Mild acid hydrolysis led to products rich in internal deoxyhexose residues. The CPI-GC induced chemokine production, NF-κB and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 activation in human cervicovaginal epithelial cells, but neither the released saccharide components nor the lipid-devoid LPG showed these activities. These results suggest a dominant role for CPI-GC in the pathogenic epithelial response to trichomoniasis.
PMCID: PMC2637367  PMID: 18604640
Trichomonad LPG; Mass spectrometry; Cytokines; NF-κB; ERK; Vaginal mucosal immunity
7.  Chemical Structure of Trichomonas vaginalis Surface Lipoglycan 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(47):40494-40508.
Background: Trichomonas vaginalis lipoglycan (TvLG) mediates interactions between the parasite and human host.
Results: TvLG is composed of a polyrhamnose backbone with branches of poly-N-acetyllactosamine that are involved in attachment to host epithelium.
Conclusion: TvLG has a unique structure among solved parasite glycans.
Significance: This work provides a template to analyze TvLG from T. vaginalis with different binding properties.
The extracellular parasite Trichomonas vaginalis contains a surface glycoconjugate that appears to mediate parasite-host cell interaction via binding to human galectin-1. This glycoconjugate also elicits cytokine production from human vaginal epithelial cells, implicating its role in modulation of host immune responses. We have analyzed the structure of this glycoconjugate, previously described to contain the sugars rhamnose (Rha), N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), galactose (Gal), xylose (Xyl), N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc), and glucose (Glc), using gas chromatograph mass spectrometry (GC-MS), matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF), electrospray MS/MS, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), combined with chemical and enzymatic digestions. Our data reveal a complex structure, named T. vaginalis lipoglycan (TvLG), that differs markedly from Leishmania lipophosphoglycan and Entamoeba lipopeptidophosphoglycan and is devoid of phosphosaccharide repeats. TvLG is composed of an α1–3 linked polyrhamnose core, where Rha residues are substituted at the 2-position with either β-Xyl or chains of, on average, five N-acetyllactosamine (-3Galβ1–4GlcNAcβ1-) (LacNAc) units and occasionally lacto-N-biose (-3Galβ1-3GlcNAcβ1-) (LNB). These chains are themselves periodically substituted at the Gal residues with Xyl-Rha. These structural analyses led us to test the role of the poly-LacNAc/LNB chains in parasite binding to host cells. We found that reduction of poly-LacNAc/LNB chains decreased the ability of TvLG to compete parasite binding to host cells. In summary, our data provide a new model for the structure of TvLG, composed of a polyrhamnose backbone with branches of Xyl and poly-LacNAc/LNB. Furthermore, the poly-LacNAc side chains are shown to be involved in parasite-host cell interaction.
PMCID: PMC3220458  PMID: 21900246
Adhesion; Glycoconjugate; Glycolipid Structure; Host-Pathogen Interactions; Pathogenesis; Trichomonas; TvLG
8.  Heterologous expression in Tritrichomonas foetus of functional Trichomonas vaginalis AP65 adhesin 
Trichomonosis, caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, is the number one, nonviral sexually transmitted infection that has adverse consequences for the health of women and children. The interaction of T. vaginalis with vaginal epithelial cells (VECs), a step preparatory to infection, is mediated in part by the prominent surface protein AP65. The bovine trichomonad, Tritrichomonas foetus, adheres poorly to human VECs. Thus, we established a transfection system for heterologous expression of the T. vaginalis AP65 in T. foetus, as an alternative approach to confirm adhesin function for this virulence factor.
In this study, we show stable transfection and expression of the T. vaginalis ap65 gene in T. foetus from an episomal pBS-ap65-neo plasmid. Expression of the gene and protein was confirmed by RT-PCR and immunoblots, respectively. AP65 in transformed T. foetus bound to host cells. Specific mAbs revealed episomally-expressed AP65 targeted to the parasite surface and hydrogenosome organelles. Importantly, surface-expression of AP65 in T. foetus paralleled increased levels of adherence of transfected bovine trichomonads to human VECs.
The T. vaginalis AP65 adhesin was stably expressed in T. foetus, and the data obtained using this heterologous system strongly supports the role of AP65 as a prominent adhesin for T. vaginalis. In addition, the heterologous expression in T. foetus of a T. vaginalis gene offers an important, new approach for confirming and characterizing virulence factors.
PMCID: PMC1079839  PMID: 15748280
9.  Cytopathogenic Effect of Trichomonas vaginalis on Human Vaginal Epithelial Cells Cultured In Vitro 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(7):4200-4206.
In this study we established human vaginal epithelial cells (hVECs) in culture and evaluated their interaction with Trichomonas vaginalis parasites to complement previous studies using other cell types. Primary cultures of hVECs were established. Contaminating fibroblasts were separated from epithelial cells by differential trypsinization. Specific antibody staining revealed that over 92% of cells in hVEC monolayers were epithelial cells. T. vaginalis adhered to hVECs and produced severe cytotoxic effects resulting in obliteration of the monolayer within 24 h. Adherence and cytotoxicity were not observed when T. vaginalis was exposed to human vaginal fibroblasts or bovine vaginal epithelial cells. Likewise, the bovine parasite Tritrichomonas foetus had no cytotoxic effects on hVECs. We concluded that the interaction between T. vaginalis and hVECs is both cell specific (limited to epithelial cells and not vaginal fibroblasts) and species specific (limited to human vaginal cells and not bovine cells). Pretreatment of T. vaginalis with metronidazole or periodate abolished the adhesion of parasites to cell monolayers and the cytotoxic effect, suggesting involvement of carbohydrate-containing molecules in these processes. Different clinical isolates of T. vaginalis caused damage to cultured cells at different rates. Parasites separated from the vaginal cell monolayer by a permeable membrane did not produce a cytopathic effect, suggesting contact-dependent cytotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC101726  PMID: 10858237
10.  Production of nitric oxide by murine macrophages induced by lipophosphoglycan of Leishmania major 
Protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania cause a number of important human diseases. One of the key determinants of parasite infectivity and survival is the surface glycoconjugate lipophosphoglycan (LPG). In addition, LPG is shown to be useful as a transmission blocking vaccine. Since culture supernatant of parasite promastigotes is a good source of LPG, we made attempts to characterize functions of the culture supernatant, and membrane LPG isolated from metacyclic promastigotes of Leishmania major. The purification scheme included anion-exchange chromatography, hydrophobic interaction chromatography and cold methanol precipitation. The purity of supernatant LPG (sLPG) and membrane LPG (mLPG) was determined by SDS-PAGE and thin layer chromatography. The effect of mLPG and sLPG on nitric oxide (NO) production by murine macrophages cell line (J774.1A) was studied. Both sLPG and mLPG induced NO production in a dose dependent manner but sLPG induced significantly higher amount of NO than mLPG. Our results show that sLPG is able to promote NO production by murine macrophages.
PMCID: PMC2532648  PMID: 16514280
Leishmania major; soluble LPG; membrane LPG; nitric oxide; macrophages
11.  IL-10 release by bovine epithelial cells cultured with Trichomonas vaginalis and Tritrichomonas foetus  
Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz  2013;108(1):110-112.
Trichomonas vaginalis and Tritrichomonas foetus are parasitic protists of the human and bovine urogenital tracts, respectively. Several studies have described the cytotoxic effects of trichomonads on urogenital tract epithelial cells. However, little is known about the host cell response against trichomonads. The aim of this study was to determine whether T. foetus and T. vaginalis stimulated the release of the cytokine interleukin (IL)-10 from cultured bovine epithelial cells. To characterise the inflammatory response induced by these parasites, primary cultures of bovine oviduct epithelial cells were exposed to either T. vaginalis or T. foetus. Within 12 h after parasite challenge, supernatants were collected and cytokine production was analysed. Large amounts of IL-10 were detected in the supernatants of cultures that had been stimulated with T. foetus. Interestingly, T. vaginalis induced only a small increase in the release of IL-10 upon exposure to the same bovine cells. Thus, the inflammatory response of the host cell is species-specific. Only T. foetus and not T. vaginalis induced the release of IL-10 by bovine oviduct epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3974308  PMID: 23440124
T. vaginalis; T. foetus; cytokines; host-cells; IL-10
12.  Leishmania enriettii: biochemical characterisation of lipophosphoglycans (LPGs) and glycoinositolphospholipids (GIPLs) and infectivity to Cavia porcellus 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:31.
Leishmania enriettii is a species non-infectious to man, whose reservoir is the guinea pig Cavia porcellus. Many aspects of the parasite-host interaction in this model are unknown, especially those involving parasite surface molecules. While lipophosphoglycans (LPGs) and glycoinositolphospholipids (GIPLs) of Leishmania species from the Old and New World have already been described, glycoconjugates of L. enriettii and their importance are still unknown.
Mice peritoneal macrophages from C57BL/6 and knock-out (TLR2 −/−, TLR4 −/−) were primed with IFN-γ and stimulated with purified LPG and GIPLs from both species. Nitric oxide and cytokine production were performed. MAPKs (p38 and JNK) and NF-kB activation were evaluated in J774.1 macrophages and CHO cells, respectively.
LPGs were extracted, purified and analysed by western-blot, showing that LPG from L88 strain was longer than that of Cobaia strain. LPGs and GIPLs were depolymerised and their sugar content was determined. LPGs from both strains did not present side chains, having the common disaccharide Gal(β1,4)Man(α1)-PO4. The GIPL from L88 strain presented galactose in its structure, suggestive of type II GIPL. On the other hand, the GIPL of Cobaia strain presented an abundance of glucose, a characteristic not previously observed. Mice peritoneal macrophages from C57BL/6 and knock-outs (TLR2 -/- and TLR4 -/-) were primed with IFN-γ and stimulated with glycoconjugates and live parasites. No activation of NO or cytokines was observed with live parasites. On the other hand, LPGs and GIPLs were able to activate the production of NO, IL-6, IL-12 and TNF–α preferably via TRL2. However, in CHO cells, only GIPLs were able to activate TRL2 and TRL4. In vivo studies using male guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) showed that only strain L88 was able to develop more severe ulcerated lesions especially in the presence of salivary gland extract (SGE).
The two L. enriettii strains exhibited polymorphisms in their LPGs and GIPLs and those features may be related to a more pro-inflammatory profile in the L88 strain.
PMCID: PMC4311450  PMID: 25595203
Leishmania enriettii; Glycoconjugates; Lipophosphoglycan; Glycoinositolphospholipids; Cavia porcellus; Macrophage; Innate immunity
13.  Leishmania major Phosphoglycans Influence the Host Early Immune Response by Modulating Dendritic Cell Functions▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;77(8):3272-3283.
The precise role of Leishmania glycoconjugate molecules including phosphoglycans (PGs) and lipophosphoglycan (LPG) on host cellular responses is still poorly defined. Here, we investigated the interaction of Leishmania major LPG2 null mutant (lpg2−), which lacks both PGs and LPG, with dendritic cells (DCs) and the subsequent early immune response in infected mice. Surprisingly, the absence of phosphoglycans did not influence expression pattern of major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC II), CD40, CD80, and CD86 on DCs in vitro and in vivo. However, lpg2− L. major induced significantly higher production of interleukin-12p40 (IL-12p40) by infected bone marrow-derived DCs (BMDCs) than wild-type (WT) parasites in vitro. Furthermore, the production of IL-12p40 by draining lymph node cells from lpg2− mutant-infected mice was higher than those from WT L. major-infected mice. In model antigen presentation experiments, DCs from lpg2− mutant-infected mice induced more gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and IL-2 production by Leishmania-specific T cells than those from WT-infected mice. Lymphocytes isolated from mice infected for 3 days with lpg2− parasites produce similar levels of IFN-γ, but significantly less IL-4 and IL-10 than WT controls. Decreased IL-4 production was also seen in another general PG-deficient mutant lacking the Golgi UDP-galactose transporters (lpg5A− lpg5B−), but not with the lpg1− mutant lacking only LPG, thereby implicating PGs generally in the reduction of IL-4 production. Thus, Leishmania PGs influence host early immune response by modulating DC functions in a way that inhibits antigen presentation and promotes early IL-4 response, and their absence may impact the balance between Th1 and Th2 responses.
PMCID: PMC2715672  PMID: 19487470
The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;282(19):14006-14017.
In the protozoan parasite Leishmania, abundant surface and secreted molecules such as lipophosphoglycan (LPG)1 and proteophosphoglycans (PPGs) contain extensive galactose residues in the form of phosphoglycans (PGs) containing [Gal-Man-PO4] repeating units. PGs are synthesized in the parasite Golgi apparatus and require transport of cytoplasmic nucleotide-sugar precursors to the Golgi lumen by nucleotide sugar transporters (NSTs). GDP-Man transport is mediated by the LPG2 gene product, and here we focused on transporters for UDP-Gal. Database mining revealed twelve candidate NST genes in the L. major genome, including LPG2, as well as a candidate endoplasmic reticulum UDP-glucose transporter (HUT1L), and several pseudogenes. Gene knockout studies established that two genes (LPG5A and LPG5B) encoded UDP-Gal NSTs. While the single lpg5A− and lpg5B− mutants produced PGs, an lpg5A−/5B− double mutant was completely deficient. PG synthesis was restored in the lpg5A−/5B− mutant by heterologous expression of the human UDP-Gal transporter, and heterologous expression of LPG5A and LPG5B rescued the glycosylation defects of the mammalian Lec8 mutant, which is deficient in UDP-Gal uptake. Interestingly, the LPG5A and LPG5B functions overlap but are not equivalent, as the lpg5A− mutant showed a partial defect in LPG but not PPG phosphoglycosylation, while the lpg5B− mutant showed a partial defect in PPG but not LPG phosphoglycosylation. Identification of these key NSTs in Leishmania will facilitate the dissection of glycoconjugate synthesis and its role(s) in the parasite life cycle and further our understanding of NSTs generally.
PMCID: PMC2807729  PMID: 17347153
15.  A novel surface protein of Trichomonas vaginalis is regulated independently by low iron and contact with vaginal epithelial cells 
BMC Microbiology  2006;6:6.
Trichomonosis caused by Trichomonas vaginalis is the number one, non-viral sexually transmitted disease (STD) that affects more than 250 million people worldwide. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) has been implicated in resistance to mucosal infections by pathogens. No reports are available of IgA-reactive proteins and the role, if any, of this class of antibody in the control of this STD. The availability of an IgA monoclonal antibody (mAb) immunoreactive to trichomonads by whole cell (WC)-ELISA prompted us to characterize the IgA-reactive protein of T. vaginalis.
An IgA mAb called 6B8 was isolated from a library of mAbs reactive to surface proteins of T. vaginalis. The 6B8 mAb recognized a 44-kDa protein (TV44) by immunoblot analysis, and a full-length cDNA clone encoded a protein of 438 amino acids. Southern analysis revealed the gene (tv44) of T. vaginalis to be single copy. The tv44 gene was down-regulated at both the transcriptional and translational levels in iron-depleted trichomonads as well as in parasites after contact with immortalized MS-74 vaginal epithelial cells (VECs). Immunofluorescence on non-permeabilized organisms confirmed surface localization of TV44, and the intensity of fluorescence was reduced after parasite adherence to VECs. Lastly, an identical protein and gene were present in Tritrichomonas foetus and Trichomonas tenax.
This is the first report of a T. vaginalis gene (tv44) encoding a surface protein (TV44) reactive with an IgA mAb, and both gene and protein were conserved in human and bovine trichomonads. Further, TV44 is independently down-regulated in expression and surface placement by iron and contact with VECs. TV44 is another member of T. vaginalis genes that are regulated by at least two independent signaling mechanisms involving iron and contact with VECs.
PMCID: PMC1403785  PMID: 16448556
16.  Trichomonas vaginalis adherence mediates differential gene expression in human vaginal epithelial cells 
Cellular microbiology  2005;7(6):887-897.
Trichomonas vaginalis, an ancient protist, colonizes the vaginal mucosa causing trichomonosis, a vaginitis that sometimes leads to severe health complications. Preparatory to colonization of the vagina is the adhesion to vaginal epithelial cells (VECs) by trichomonads. We hypothesized that VECs alter the gene expression to form a complex signalling cascade in response to trichomonal adherence. In order to identify the genes that are upregulated, we constructed a subtraction cDNA library after contact with parasites that is enriched for differentially expressed genes from the immortalized MS-74 VECs. Sixty cDNA clones were sequenced and to our knowledge for the first time, differentially regulated genes were identified in response to early trichomonal infection. The identified genes were found to encode functional proteins with specific functions associated with cell structure maintenance and extracellular matrix components, proinflammatory molecules and apoptosis. Semi-quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) confirmed expression of selected genes. Further, cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) protein expression was analysed using Western blot and immunofluorescence assays. Data suggest that p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and tyrosine kinases play a role in COX-2 induction. Finally, T. vaginalis and Tritrichomonas foetus but not Pentatrichomonas hominis induce expression of COX-2. This is a first attempt at elucidating the basis of interaction of trichomonads with host cells and the corresponding host responses triggered by the parasites.
PMCID: PMC2562669  PMID: 15888089
17.  Production of Interleukin-8 by Human Neutrophils Stimulated with Trichomonas vaginalis  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(3):1326-1332.
Neutrophils are the predominant inflammatory cells found in the vaginal discharges of patients infected with Trichomonas vaginalis. Although chemoattractants, such as leukotriene B4 and interleukin-8 (IL-8), are found in the vaginal discharges of symptomatic trichomoniasis patients, little is known about the mechanism of how neutrophils accumulate or mediate initial inflammatory response after acute T. vaginalis infection. We examined IL-8 production in neutrophils activated by T. vaginalis and evaluated the factors involved in T. vaginalis adherence that might affect IL-8 production. When human neutrophils were stimulated with live trophozoites, T. vaginalis lysate, or T. vaginalis excretory-secretory products, the live trichomonads induced higher levels of IL-8 production than the lysate or products did. When live trichomonads were pretreated with various inhibitors of proteinase, microtubule, microfilament, or adhesin (which are all known to participate in the adherence of T. vaginalis to vaginal epithelial cells), IL-8 production significantly decreased compared with the untreated controls. Furthermore, an NF-κB inhibitor (pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate), a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase (MEK) inhibitor (PD98059), and a p38 MAP kinase inhibitor (SB203580) significantly suppressed IL-8 synthesis in neutrophils. These results suggest that live T. vaginalis, particularly adherent trophozoites, can induce IL-8 production in neutrophils and that this action may be mediated through the NF-κB and MAP kinase signaling pathways. In other words, T. vaginalis-induced neutrophil recruitment may be mediated via the IL-8 expressed by neutrophils in response to activation by live T. vaginalis.
PMCID: PMC355987  PMID: 14977935
18.  Purification and Expression of the Tf190 Adhesin in Tritrichomonas foetus† 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(3):1100-1105.
Bovine trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by Tritrichomonas foetus and characterized by early embryo loss. The mechanism of this loss is not known, although the parasite is known to cause inflammation and to have the ability to kill host cells by a contact-dependent cytotoxic mechanism. Antibody specific for a 190,000-Da surface complex (Tf190) was previously shown to inhibit this adhesion. In this study we used immunoaffinity chromatography to purify Tf190 from T. foetus in order to analyze its composition and examine its expression. Analysis by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of purified Tf190 followed by silver staining revealed three components of Tf190. Western blotting and antibody-binding experiments showed that the 140- and 60-kDa bands were immunogenic. By using a battery of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) periodate-sensitive epitopes were identified on Tf190, suggesting that these epitopes contained carbohydrate structures. Analyses of affinity-purified Tf190 by high-performance liquid chromatography and gas-liquid chromatography demonstrated the presence of the monosaccharides and lipids known to be prominent constituents of the lipophosphoglycan (LPG) of T. foetus. Flow cytometry experiments on several isolates of T. foetus with Tf190-specific antibodies revealed that Tf190 was present on subpopulations of all isolates but that not all epitopes were present on every isolate. This pattern of reactivities on the different parasite isolates was confirmed by Western blots of whole-parasite extracts probed with MAbs and antiserum. These results suggest that although variation in the expression of epitopes of Tf190 occurs in different strains of T. foetus, the Tf190 adhesion complex is widespread in different populations of the parasite. The data further suggest that immunogenic structures, important in the adhesion of T. foetus to mammalian cells, are located in the LPG-like component of Tf190.
PMCID: PMC108021  PMID: 9488401
19.  Trichonomas vaginalis Metalloproteinase Induces Apoptosis of SiHa Cells through Disrupting the Mcl-1/Bim and Bcl-xL/Bim Complexes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110659.
To elucidate the roles of metalloproteinases and the Bcl-2 family of proteins in Trichovaginalis. vaginalis-induced apoptosis in human cervical cancer cells (SiHa cells) and vaginal epithelial cells (MS74 cells), SiHa cells and MS74 cells were incubated with live T. vaginalis, T. vaginalis excretory and secretory products (ESP), and T. vaginalis lysates, either with or without the specific metalloproteinase inhibitor 1,10-phenanthroline (1,10-PT), and examined apoptotic events and Bcl-2 signaling. The live T. vaginalis and the T. vaginalis ESP induced the release of cytochrome c into the cytosol, the activation of caspase-3 and caspase-9, and the cleavage of PARP. Additionally, the live T. vaginalis, but not the T. vaginalis lysate, induced the cleavage of the proapoptotic Bim protein. The live T. vaginalis and the T. vaginalis ESP, but not the T. vaginalis lysate, induced the dose-dependent cleavage of the antiapoptotic Bcl-xL and Mcl-1 proteins and decreased the association levels of Bcl-xL/Bim and Mcl-1/Bim complexes. We performed gelatin zymography and casein-hydrolysis assays on the live T. vaginalis and the T. vaginalis ESP to identify the apoptosis-inducing factor. Both the live T. vaginalis and the ESP contained high levels of metalloproteinases, of which activities were significantly inhibited by 1,10-PT treatment. Furthermore, the 1,10-PT blocked the cleavage of Bcl-xL, Mcl-1, PARP, caspase-3, and caspase-9, as well as the release of cytochrome c into the cytosol, and it significantly increased the association levels of the Bcl-xL/Bim and Mcl-1/Bim protein complexes, returning them to normal levels. Our results demonstrate that T. vaginalis induces mitochondria-dependent apoptosis in SiHa cells through the dissociation of Bcl-xL/Bim and Mcl-1/Bim complexes and that the apoptosis is blocked by the metalloproteinase inhibitor 1,10-PT. These results expand our understanding of the role of metalloproteinases in T. vaginalis-induced apoptosis and the signaling pathway in trichomoniasis of the cervicovaginal epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC4208800  PMID: 25343522
20.  Murine Models of Vaginal Trichomonad Infections 
Trichomonas vaginalis and Tritrichomonas foetus cause common sexually transmitted infections in humans and cattle, respectively. Mouse models of trichomoniasis are important for pathogenic and therapeutic studies. Here, we compared murine genital infections with T. vaginalis and T. foetus. Persistent vaginal infection with T. foetus was established with 100 parasites but T. vaginalis infection required doses of 106, perhaps because of greater susceptibility to killing by mouse vaginal polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Infection with T. vaginalis persisted longest after combined treatment of mice with estrogen and dexamethasone, whereas infection was only short-lived when mice were given estrogen or dexamethasone alone, co-infected with Lactobacillus acidophilus, and/or pretreated with antibiotics. Infection rates were similar with metronidazole-resistant (MR) and metronidazole-sensitive (MS) T. vaginalis. High dose but not low dose metronidazole treatment controlled infection with MS better than MR T. vaginalis. These murine models will be valuable for investigating the pathogenesis and treatment of trichomoniasis.
PMCID: PMC3183775  PMID: 21976570
21.  Leishmania major Glycosylation Mutants Require Phosphoglycans (lpg2−) but Not Lipophosphoglycan (lpg1−) for Survival in Permissive Sand Fly Vectors 
Sand fly species able to support the survival of the protozoan parasite Leishmania have been classified as permissive or specific, based upon their ability to support a wide or limited range of strains and/or species. Studies of a limited number of fly/parasite species combinations have implicated parasite surface molecules in this process and here we provide further evidence in support of this proposal. We investigated the role of lipophosphoglycan (LPG) and other phosphoglycans (PGs) in sand fly survival, using Leishmania major mutants deficient in LPG (lpg1−), and the phosphoglycan (PG)-deficient mutant lpg2−. The sand fly species used were the permissive species Phlebotomus perniciosus and P. argentipes, and the specific vector P. duboscqi, a species resistant to L. infantum development.
Principal Findings
The lpg2− mutants did not survive well in any of the three sand fly species, suggesting that phosphoglycans and/or other LPG2-dependent molecules are required for parasite development. In vitro, all three L. major lines were equally resistant to proteolytic activity of bovine trypsin, suggesting that sand fly-specific hydrolytic proteases or other factors are the reason for the early lpg2− parasite killing. The lpg1− mutants developed late-stage infections in two permissive species, P. perniciosus and P. argentipes, where their infection rates and intensities of infections were comparable to the wild type (WT) parasites. In contrast, in P. duboscqi the lpg1− mutants developed significantly worse than the WT parasites.
In combination with previous studies, the data establish clearly that LPG is not required for Leishmania survival in permissive species P. perniciosus and P. argentipes but plays an important role in the specific vector P. duboscqi. With regard to PGs other than LPG, the data prove the importance of LPG2-related molecules for survival of L. major in the three sand fly species tested.
Author Summary
Phlebotomine sand flies are small blood-feeding insects, medically important as vectors of protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania. Sand flies species can be divided roughly into two groups, termed specific or permissive, depending on their ability to support development of one or a few strains vs. a broad spectrum of these parasites. In this study, we explored the ability of two Leishmania major glycocalyx mutants to survive within these different types of vectors. The lpg1− mutant, which specifically lacks lipophosphoglycan (LPG), was able to survive normally in two permissive species, Phlebotomus argentipes and P. perniciosus, but was only able to survive within the specific species P. duboscqi for a limited time prior to dissolution of the peritrophic matrix. Consistent with its classification as a specific sand fly vector, P. duboscqi was not able to support development of L. infantum. The lpg2− L. major mutant, which is a broader mutant and lacks all phosphoglycans including LPG and proteophosphoglycans, was unable to survive in all the three vector species tested. This study extends the knowledge on the role of Leishmania major surface glycoconjugates to development in three important vector species and gives supporting evidence for the existence of an LPG-independent mechanism for survival in sand flies, as well as the importance of LPG2-dependent glycoconjugates in parasite survival.
PMCID: PMC2797086  PMID: 20084096
22.  Comparisons of Mutants Lacking the Golgi UDP-Galactose or GDP-Mannose Transporters Establish that Phosphoglycans Are Important for Promastigote but Not Amastigote Virulence in Leishmania major▿  
Infection and Immunity  2007;75(9):4629-4637.
Abundant surface Leishmania phosphoglycans (PGs) containing [Gal(β1,4)Man(α1-PO4)]-derived repeating units are important at several points in the infectious cycle of this protozoan parasite. PG synthesis requires transport of activated nucleotide-sugar precursors from the cytoplasm to the Golgi apparatus. Correspondingly, null mutants of the L. major GDP-mannose transporter LPG2 lack PGs and are severely compromised in macrophage survival and induction of acute pathology in susceptible mice, yet they are able to persist indefinitely and induce protective immunity. However, lpg2− L. mexicana amastigotes similarly lacking PGs but otherwise normal in known glycoconjugates remain able to induce acute pathology. To explore this further, we tested the infectivity of a new PG-null L. major mutant, which is inactivated in the two UDP-galactose transporter genes LPG5A and LPG5B. Surprisingly this mutant did not recapitulate the phenotype of L. major lpg2−, instead resembling the L. major lipophosphoglycan-deficient lpg1− mutant. Metacyclic lpg5A−/lpg5B− promastigotes showed strong defects in the initial steps of macrophage infection and survival. However, after a modest delay, the lpg5A−/lpg5B− mutant induced lesion pathology in infected mice, which thereafter progressed normally. Amastigotes recovered from these lesions were fully infective in mice and in macrophages despite the continued absence of PGs. This suggests that another LPG2-dependent metabolite is responsible for the L. major amastigote virulence defect, although further studies ruled out cytoplasmic mannans. These data thus resolve the distinct phenotypes seen among lpg2− Leishmania species by emphasizing the role of glycoconjugates other than PGs in amastigote virulence, while providing further support for the role of PGs in metacyclic promastigote virulence.
PMCID: PMC1951182  PMID: 17606605
23.  Pathogenic Trichomonas vaginalis cytotoxicity to cell culture monolayers. 
Exposure of monolayer cultures of human urogenital and vaginal (HeLa), human epithelial (HEp-2), normal baboon testicular (NBT), and monkey kidney (Vero) cells to live pathogenic Trichomonas vaginalis resulted in extensive disruption of monolayers. Trypan blue was taken up by all host cells released from cell monolayers, which indicated irreversible damage of these cell types by trichomonads. Time and dose related data on cytotoxicity kinetics were obtained using increasing ratios of parasites to cells. All cell types were most sensitive to trichomonads at a multiplicity of infection of one. Release of tritiated thymidine (3H-thymidine) of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of prelabelled host cells after incubation with T vaginalis corroborated that extensive cytotoxicity was caused by pathogenic trichomonads in man. Only living parasites were cytotoxic, and no trichomonal toxic products were implicated in disruption of the cell monolayer cultures. A pathogenic bovine trichomonad, Tritrichomonas foetus KV-1, produced half as much cell damage as did T vaginalis. Trichomonas tenax, a non-pathogenic member of the normal flora of the oral cavity in man, produced no measurable cytotoxicity to HeLa cells when compared with the pathogenic human trichomonads.
PMCID: PMC1046445  PMID: 6608395
24.  Clinical and Microbiological Aspects of Trichomonas vaginalis 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  1998;11(2):300-317.
Trichomonas vaginalis, a parasitic protozoan, is the etiologic agent of trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) of worldwide importance. Trichomoniasis is the most common nonviral STD, and it is associated with many perinatal complications, male and female genitourinary tract infections, and an increased incidence of HIV transmission. Diagnosis is difficult, since the symptoms of trichomoniasis mimic those of other STDs and detection methods lack precision. Although current treatment protocols involving nitroimidazoles are curative, metronidazole resistance is on the rise, outlining the need for research into alternative antibiotics. Vaccine development has been limited by a lack of understanding of the role of the host immune response to T. vaginalis infection. The lack of a good animal model has made it difficult to conduct standardized studies in drug and vaccine development and pathogenesis. Current work on pathogenesis has focused on the host-parasite relationship, in particular the initial events required to establish infection. These studies have illustrated that the pathogenesis of T. vaginalis is indeed very complex and involves adhesion, hemolysis, and soluble factors such as cysteine proteinases and cell-detaching factor. T. vaginalis interaction with the members of the resident vaginal flora, an advanced immune evasion strategy, and certain stress responses enable the organism to survive in its changing environment. Clearly, further research and collaboration will help elucidate these pathogenic mechanisms, and with better knowledge will come improved disease control.
PMCID: PMC106834  PMID: 9564565
25.  Tritrichomonas foetus Induces Apoptotic Cell Death in Bovine Vaginal Epithelial Cells  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(7):4151-4158.
Tritrichomonas foetus is a serious veterinary pathogen, causing bovine trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease leading to infertility and abortion. T. foetus infects the mucosal surfaces of the reproductive tract. Infection with T. foetus leads to apoptotic cell death of bovine vaginal epithelial cells (BVECs) in culture. An affinity-purified cysteine protease (CP) fraction yielding on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis a single band with an apparent molecular mass of 30 kDa (CP30) also induces BVEC apoptosis. Treatment of CP30 with the protease inhibitors TLCK (Nα-p-tosyl-l-lysine chloromethyl ketone) and E-64 [l-trans-epoxysuccinyl-leucylamide-(4-guanido)-butane] greatly reduces induction of BVEC apoptosis. Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time-of-flight MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry analysis of CP30 reveals a single peak with a molecular mass of 23.7 kDa. Mass spectral peptide sequence analysis of proteolytically digested CP30 reveals homologies to a previously reported cDNA clone, CP8 (D. J. Mallinson, J. Livingstone, K. M. Appleton, S. J. Lees, G. H. Coombs, and M. J. North, Microbiology 141:3077-3085, 1995). Induction of apoptosis is highly species specific, since the related human parasite Trichomonas vaginalis and associated purified CPs did not induce BVEC death. Fluorescence microscopy along with the Cell Death Detection ELISAPLUS assay and flow cytometry analyses were used to detect apoptotic nuclear condensation, DNA fragmentation, and changes in plasma membrane asymmetry in host cells undergoing apoptosis in response to T. foetus infection or incubation with CP30. Additionally, the activation of caspase-3 and inhibition of cell death by caspase inhibitors indicates that caspases are involved in BVEC apoptosis. These results imply that apoptosis is involved in the pathogenesis of T. foetus infection in vivo, which may have important implications for therapeutic interference with host cell death that could alter the course of the pathology in vivo.
PMCID: PMC427413  PMID: 15213160

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