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1.  Lipid Metabolism as a Therapeutic Target 
PMCID: PMC3332162  PMID: 22567284
2.  Trypanosoma brucei Bloodstream Forms Depend upon Uptake of myo-Inositol for Golgi Complex Phosphatidylinositol Synthesis and Normal Cell Growth 
Eukaryotic Cell  2015;14(6):616-624.
myo-Inositol is a building block for all inositol-containing phospholipids in eukaryotes. It can be synthesized de novo from glucose-6-phosphate in the cytosol and endoplasmic reticulum. Alternatively, it can be taken up from the environment via Na+- or H+-linked myo-inositol transporters. While Na+-coupled myo-inositol transporters are found exclusively in the plasma membrane, H+-linked myo-inositol transporters are detected in intracellular organelles. In Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of human African sleeping sickness, myo-inositol metabolism is compartmentalized. De novo-synthesized myo-inositol is used for glycosylphosphatidylinositol production in the endoplasmic reticulum, whereas the myo-inositol taken up from the environment is used for bulk phosphatidylinositol synthesis in the Golgi complex. We now provide evidence that the Golgi complex-localized T. brucei H+-linked myo-inositol transporter (TbHMIT) is essential in bloodstream-form T. brucei. Downregulation of TbHMIT expression by RNA interference blocked phosphatidylinositol production and inhibited growth of parasites in culture. Characterization of the transporter in a heterologous expression system demonstrated a remarkable selectivity of TbHMIT for myo-inositol. It tolerates only a single modification on the inositol ring, such as the removal of a hydroxyl group or the inversion of stereochemistry at a single hydroxyl group relative to myo-inositol.
PMCID: PMC4452569  PMID: 25888554
3.  Sphingolipid and Ceramide Homeostasis: Potential Therapeutic Targets 
Sphingolipids are ubiquitous in eukaryotic cells where they have been attributed a plethora of functions from the formation of structural domains to polarized cellular trafficking and signal transduction. Recent research has identified and characterised many of the key enzymes involved in sphingolipid metabolism and this has led to a heightened interest in the possibility of targeting these processes for therapies against cancers, Alzheimer's disease, and numerous important human pathogens. In this paper we outline the major pathways in eukaryotic sphingolipid metabolism and discuss these in relation to disease and therapy for both chronic and infectious conditions.
PMCID: PMC3286894  PMID: 22400113
4.  Sugar activation and glycosylation in Plasmodium 
Malaria Journal  2015;14:427.
Glycoconjugates are important mediators of host-pathogen interactions and are usually very abundant in the surface of many protozoan parasites. However, in the particular case of Plasmodium species, previous works show that glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor modifications, and to an unknown extent, a severely truncated N-glycosylation are the only glycosylation processes taking place in the parasite. Nevertheless, a detailed analysis of the parasite genome and the recent identification of the sugar nucleotide precursors biosynthesized by Plasmodium falciparum support a picture in which several overlooked, albeit not very prominent glycosylations may be occurring during the parasite life cycle. In this work, the authors review recent developments in the characterization of the biosynthesis of glycosylation precursors in the parasite, focusing on the outline of the possible fates of these precursors.
PMCID: PMC4628283  PMID: 26520586
Glycobiology; Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Sugar nucleotides
5.  Screening the MayBridge Rule of 3 Fragment Library for Compounds That Interact with the Trypanosoma brucei myo-Inositol-3-Phosphate Synthase and/or Show Trypanocidal Activity 
Inositol-3-phosphate synthase (INO1) has previously been genetically validated as a drug target against Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of African sleeping sickness. Chemical intervention of this essential enzyme could lead to new therapeutic agents. Unfortunately, no potent inhibitors of INO1 from any organism have been reported, so a screen for potential novel inhibitors of T. brucei INO1was undertaken. Detection of inhibition of T. brucei INO1 is problematic due to the nature of the reaction. Direct detection requires differentiation between glucose-6-phosphate and inositol-3-phosphate. Coupled enzyme assays could give false positives as potentially they could inhibit the coupling enzyme. Thus, an alternative approach of differential scanning fluorimetry to identify compounds that interact with T. brucei INO1 was employed to screen ~670 compounds from the MayBridge Rule of 3 Fragment Library. This approach identified 38 compounds, which significantly altered the Tm of TbINO1. Four compounds showed trypanocidal activity with ED50s in the tens of micromolar range, with 2 having a selectivity index in excess of 250. The trypanocidal and general cytotoxicity activities of all of the compounds in the library are also reported, with the best having ED50S of ~20 μM against T. brucei.
PMCID: PMC3199943  PMID: 22091402
6.  Pharmacological Stimulation of Edar Signaling in the Adult Enhances Sebaceous Gland Size and Function 
Impaired Ectodysplasin A (EDA) – EDA receptor (EDAR) signaling affects ectodermally derived structures including teeth, hair follicles and cutaneous glands. X-linked hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (XLHED), resulting from EDA deficiency, can be rescued with lifelong benefits in animal models by stimulation of ectodermal appendage development with EDAR agonists. Treatments initiated later in the developmental period restore progressively fewer of the affected structures. It is unknown whether EDAR stimulation in adults with XLHED might have beneficial effects. In adult Eda mutant mice treated for several weeks with agonist anti-EDAR antibodies, we find that sebaceous glands size and function can be restored to wild type levels. This effect is maintained upon chronic treatment but reverses slowly upon cessation of treatment. Sebaceous glands in all skin regions respond to treatment, though to varying degrees, and this is accompanied in both Eda mutant and wild type mice by sebum secretion to levels higher than those observed in untreated controls. Edar is expressed at the periphery of the glands, suggesting a direct homeostatic effect of Edar stimulation on the sebaceous gland. Sebaceous gland size and sebum production may serve as biomarkers for EDAR stimulation, and EDAR agonists may improve skin dryness and eczema frequently observed in XLHED.
PMCID: PMC4269545  PMID: 25207818
7.  Non-natural acetogenin analogues as potent Trypanosoma brucei inhibitors 
ChemMedChem  2014;9(11):2548-2556.
A series of novel bis-tetrahydropyran 1,4-triazole analogues based on the acetogenin framework display low micromolar trypanocidal activities towards both bloodstream and insect forms of Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of African sleeping sickness. A divergent synthetic strategy was adopted for the synthesis of the key tetrahydropyran intermediates to enable rapid access to diastereochemical variation either side of the 1,4-triazole core. The resulting diastereomeric analogues displayed varying degrees of trypanocidal activity and selectivity in structure activity relationship studies.
PMCID: PMC4298241  PMID: 25145275
Trypanosomiasis; acetogenins; neglected diseases; natural products
8.  TrypanoCyc: a community-led biochemical pathways database for Trypanosoma brucei 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;43(Database issue):D637-D644.
The metabolic network of a cell represents the catabolic and anabolic reactions that interconvert small molecules (metabolites) through the activity of enzymes, transporters and non-catalyzed chemical reactions. Our understanding of individual metabolic networks is increasing as we learn more about the enzymes that are active in particular cells under particular conditions and as technologies advance to allow detailed measurements of the cellular metabolome. Metabolic network databases are of increasing importance in allowing us to contextualise data sets emerging from transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic experiments. Here we present a dynamic database, TrypanoCyc (, which describes the generic and condition-specific metabolic network of Trypanosoma brucei, a parasitic protozoan responsible for human and animal African trypanosomiasis. In addition to enabling navigation through the BioCyc-based TrypanoCyc interface, we have also implemented a network-based representation of the information through MetExplore, yielding a novel environment in which to visualise the metabolism of this important parasite.
PMCID: PMC4384016  PMID: 25300491
9.  The essential roles of cytidine diphosphate‐diacylglycerol synthase in bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei 
Molecular Microbiology  2014;92(3):453-470.
Lipid metabolism in Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of African sleeping sickness, differs from its human host in several fundamental ways. This has lead to the validation of a plethora of novel drug targets, giving hope of novel chemical intervention against this neglected disease. Cytidine diphosphate diacylglycerol (CDP‐DAG) is a central lipid intermediate for several pathways in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, being produced by CDP‐DAG synthase (CDS). However, nothing is known about the single T. brucei CDS gene (Tb927.7.220/EC or its activity. In this study we show TbCDS is functional by complementation of a non‐viable yeast CDS null strain and that it is essential in the bloodstream form of the parasite via a conditional knockout. The TbCDS conditional knockout showed morphological changes including a cell‐cycle arrest due in part to kinetoplast segregation defects. Biochemical phenotyping of TbCDS conditional knockout showed drastically altered lipid metabolism where reducing levels of phosphatidylinositol detrimentally impacted on glycoylphosphatidylinositol biosynthesis. These studies also suggest that phosphatidylglycerol synthesized via the phosphatidylglycerol‐phosphate synthase is not synthesized from CDP‐DAG, as was previously thought. TbCDS was shown to localized the ER and Golgi, probably to provide CDP‐DAG for the phosphatidylinositol synthases.
PMCID: PMC4114554  PMID: 24533860
10.  Establishment of a Structure–Activity Relationship of 1H-Imidazo[4,5-c]quinoline-Based Kinase Inhibitor NVP-BEZ235 as a Lead for African Sleeping Sickness 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(11):4834-4848.
Compound NVP-BEZ235 (1) is a potent inhibitor of human phospoinositide-3-kinases and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) that also showed high inhibitory potency against Trypanosoma brucei cultures. With an eye toward using 1 as a starting point for anti-trypanosomal drug discovery, we report efforts to reduce host cell toxicity, to improve the physicochemical properties, and to improve the selectivity profile over human kinases. In this work, we have developed structure–activity relationships for analogues of 1 and have prepared analogues of 1 with improved solubility properties and good predicted central nervous system exposure. In this way, we have identified 4e, 9, 16e, and 16g as the most promising leads to date. We also report cell phenotype and phospholipidomic studies that suggest that these compounds exert their anti-trypanosomal effects, at least in part, by inhibition of lipid kinases.
PMCID: PMC4099174  PMID: 24805946
11.  Spermidine Feeding Decreases Age-Related Locomotor Activity Loss and Induces Changes in Lipid Composition 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102435.
Spermidine is a natural polyamine involved in many important cellular functions, whose supplementation in food or water increases life span and stress resistance in several model organisms. In this work, we expand spermidine’s range of age-related beneficial effects by demonstrating that it is also able to improve locomotor performance in aged flies. Spermidine’s mechanism of action on aging has been primarily related to general protein hypoacetylation that subsequently induces autophagy. Here, we suggest that the molecular targets of spermidine also include lipid metabolism: Spermidine-fed flies contain more triglycerides and show altered fatty acid and phospholipid profiles. We further determine that most of these metabolic changes are regulated through autophagy. Collectively, our data suggests an additional and novel lipid-mediated mechanism of action for spermidine-induced autophagy.
PMCID: PMC4092136  PMID: 25010732
12.  Phosphoinositide Metabolism Links cGMP-Dependent Protein Kinase G to Essential Ca2+ Signals at Key Decision Points in the Life Cycle of Malaria Parasites 
PLoS Biology  2014;12(3):e1001806.
Chemical genetics and a global comparative analysis of phosphorylation and phospholipids in vivo shows that PKG is the upstream regulator that induces calcium signals that enables Plasmodium to progress through its complex life cycle.
Many critical events in the Plasmodium life cycle rely on the controlled release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores to activate stage-specific Ca2+-dependent protein kinases. Using the motility of Plasmodium berghei ookinetes as a signalling paradigm, we show that the cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-dependent protein kinase, PKG, maintains the elevated level of cytosolic Ca2+ required for gliding motility. We find that the same PKG-dependent pathway operates upstream of the Ca2+ signals that mediate activation of P. berghei gametocytes in the mosquito and egress of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites from infected human erythrocytes. Perturbations of PKG signalling in gliding ookinetes have a marked impact on the phosphoproteome, with a significant enrichment of in vivo regulated sites in multiple pathways including vesicular trafficking and phosphoinositide metabolism. A global analysis of cellular phospholipids demonstrates that in gliding ookinetes PKG controls phosphoinositide biosynthesis, possibly through the subcellular localisation or activity of lipid kinases. Similarly, phosphoinositide metabolism links PKG to egress of P. falciparum merozoites, where inhibition of PKG blocks hydrolysis of phosphatidylinostitol (4,5)-bisphosphate. In the face of an increasing complexity of signalling through multiple Ca2+ effectors, PKG emerges as a unifying factor to control multiple cellular Ca2+ signals essential for malaria parasite development and transmission.
Author Summary
Malaria, caused by Plasmodium spp. parasites, is a profound human health problem. Plasmodium parasites progress through a complex life cycle as they move between infected humans and blood-feeding mosquitoes. We know that tight regulation of calcium ion levels within the cytosol of the parasite is critical to control multiple signalling events in their life cycle. However, how these calcium levels are controlled remains a mystery. Here, we show that a single protein kinase, the cGMP-dependent protein kinase G (PKG), controls the calcium signals that are critical at three different points of the life cycle: (1) for the exit of the merozoite form of the parasite from human erythrocytes (red blood cells), (2) for the cellular activation that happens when Plasmodium sexual transmission stages are ingested by a blood-feeding mosquito, and (3) for the productive gliding of the ookinete, which is the parasite stage that invades the mosquito midgut. We provide initial evidence that the universal role of PKG relies on the production of lipid precursors which then give rise to inositol (1,4,5)-trisphosphate (IP3), a messenger molecule that serves as a signal for the release of calcium from stores within the parasite. This signalling pathway provides a potential target to block both malaria development in the human host and transmission to the mosquito vector.
PMCID: PMC3942320  PMID: 24594931
13.  Virulent and Avirulent Strains of Toxoplasma gondii Which Differ in Their Glycosylphosphatidylinositol Content Induce Similar Biological Functions in Macrophages 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85386.
Glycosylphosphatidylinositols (GPIs) from several protozoan parasites are thought to elicit a detrimental stimulation of the host innate immune system aside their main function to anchor surface proteins. Here we analyzed the GPI biosynthesis of an avirulent Toxoplasma gondii type 2 strain (PTG) by metabolic radioactive labeling. We determined the biological function of individual GPI species in the PTG strain in comparison with previously characterized GPI-anchors of a virulent strain (RH). The GPI intermediates of both strains were structurally similar, however the abundance of two of six GPI intermediates was significantly reduced in the PTG strain. The side-by-side comparison of GPI-anchor content revealed that the PTG strain had only ∼34% of the protein-free GPIs as well as ∼70% of the GPI-anchored proteins with significantly lower rates of protein N-glycosylation compared to the RH strain. All mature GPIs from both strains induced comparable secretion levels of TNF-α and IL-12p40, and initiated TLR4/MyD88-dependent NF-κBp65 activation in macrophages. Taken together, these results demonstrate that PTG and RH strains differ in their GPI biosynthesis and possess significantly different GPI-anchor content, while individual GPI species of both strains induce similar biological functions in macrophages.
PMCID: PMC3904843  PMID: 24489660
14.  Untargeted metabolomic analysis of miltefosine action in Leishmania infantum reveals changes to the internal lipid metabolism☆ 
Graphical abstract
•Metabolomics reveals 876 metabolites of the Leishmania donovani metabolome.•Miltefosine alters 10% of the metabolome of sensitive but not resistant cells.•Internal lipid fragments are increased upon miltefosine introduction.•Resistant lines have mutations in the miltefosine transporter.
There are many theories as to the mode of action of miltefosine against Leishmania including alterations to the membrane lipid content, induction of apoptosis and modulation of macrophage responses. Here we perform untargeted metabolomics to elucidate the metabolic changes involved in miltefosine action. Over 800 metabolites were detected, 10% of which were significantly altered after 3.75 h. Many of the changes related to an increase in alkane fragment and sugar release. Fragment release is synchronised with reactive oxygen species production, but native membrane phospholipids remain intact. Signs of DNA damage were also detected as were changes to the levels of some thiols and polyamines. After 5 h of miltefosine treatment the cells showed depleted levels of most metabolites, indicating that the cells’ outer membrane integrity had become compromised and internal metabolites were escaping upon cell death. In miltefosine resistant cells, the drug was not internalised and the changes to the internal metabolite levels were not seen. In contrast, cells resistant to antimony (SbIII) had similar corresponding alterations to the levels of internal metabolites as wild-type cells. A detailed knowledge of the mode of action of miltefosine will be important to inform the design of combination therapies to combat leishmaniasis, something that the research community should be prioritising in the coming years.
PMCID: PMC3940234  PMID: 24596665
Miltefosine; Leishmania; Metabolomics; Mode of action
15.  The glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) biosynthetic pathway of bloodstream-form Trypanosoma brucei is dependent on the de novo synthesis of inositol 
Molecular microbiology  2006;61(1):89-105.
In bloodstream-form Trypanosoma brucei (the causative agent of African sleeping sickness) the glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor biosynthetic pathway has been validated genetically and chemically as a drug target. The conundrum that GPI anchors could not be in vivo labelled with [3H]-inositol led us to hypothesize that de novo synthesis was responsible for supplying myo-inositol for phosphatidylinositol (PI) destined for GPI synthesis. The rate-limiting step of the de novo synthesis is the isomerization of glucose 6-phosphate to 1-d-myo-inositol-3-phosphate, catalysed by a 1-d-myo-inositol-3-phosphate synthase (INO1). When grown under non-permissive conditions, a conditional double knockout demonstrated that INO1 is an essential gene in bloodstream-form T. brucei. It also showed that the de novo synthesized myo-inositol is utilized to form PI, which is preferentially used in GPI biosynthesis. We also show for the first time that extracellular myo-inositol can in fact be used in GPI formation although to a limited extent. Despite this, extracellular inositol cannot compensate for the deletion of INO1. Supporting these results, there was no change in PI levels in the conditional double knockout cells grown under non-permissive conditions, showing that perturbation of growth is due to a specific lack of de novo synthesized myo-inositol and not a general inositol-less death. These results suggest that there is a distinction between de novo synthesized myo-inositol and that from the extracellular environment.
PMCID: PMC3793301  PMID: 16824097
16.  Mitochondrial fatty acid synthesis is required for normal mitochondrial morphology and function in Trypanosoma brucei 
Molecular microbiology  2008;67(5):1125-1142.
Trypanosoma brucei use microsomal elongases for de novo synthesis of most of its fatty acids. In addition, this parasite utilizes an essential mitochondrial type II synthase for production of octanoate (a lipoic acid precursor) as well as longer fatty acids such as palmitate. Evidence from other organisms suggests that mitochondrially synthesized fatty acids are required for efficient respiration but the exact relationship remains unclear. In procyclic form trypanosomes, we also found that RNAi depletion of the mitochondrial acyl carrier protein, an important component of the fatty acid synthesis machinery, significantly reduces cytochrome-mediated respiration. This reduction was explained by RNAi-mediated inhibition of respiratory complexes II, III and IV, but not complex I. Other effects of RNAi, such as changes in mitochondrial morphology and alterations in membrane potential, raised the possibility of a change in mitochondrial membrane composition. Using mass spectrometry, we observed a decrease in total and mitochondrial phosphatidylinositol and mitochondrial phosphatidylethanolamine. Thus, we conclude that the mitochondrial synthase produces fatty acids needed for maintaining local phospholipid levels that are required for activity of respiratory complexes and preservation of mitochondrial morphology and function.
PMCID: PMC3776142  PMID: 18221265
17.  Cardiolipin synthase is required for Streptomyces coelicolor morphogenesis 
Molecular microbiology  2012;84(1):181-197.
The fluid mosaic model has recently been amended to account for the existence of membrane domains enriched in certain phospholipids. In rod-shaped bacteria, the anionic phospholipid cardiolipin is enriched at the cell poles but its role in the morphogenesis of the filamentous bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor is unknown. It was impossible to delete clsA (cardiolipin synthase; SCO1389) unless complemented by a second copy of clsA elsewhere in the chromosome. When placed under the control of an inducible promoter, clsA expression, phospholipid profile and morphogenesis became inducer dependent. TLC analysis of phospholipid showed altered profiles upon depletion of clsA expression. Analysis of cardiolipin by mass spectrometry showed two distinct cardiolipin envelopes that reflected differences in acyl chain length; the level of the larger cardiolipin envelope was reduced in concert with clsA expression. ClsA-EGFP did not localize to specific locations, but cardiolipin itself showed enrichment at hyphal tips, branch points and anucleate regions. Quantitative analysis of hyphal dimensions showed that the mycelial architecture and the erection of aerial hyphae were affected by the expression of clsA. Overexpression of clsA resulted in weakened hyphal tips, misshaped aerial hyphae and anucleate spores and demonstrates that cardiolipin synthesis is a requirement for morphogenesis in Streptomyces.
PMCID: PMC3776143  PMID: 22409773
18.  Lipidomic analysis of bloodstream and procyclic form Trypanosoma brucei 
Parasitology  2010;137(9):1357-1392.
The biological membranes of Trypanosoma brucei contain a complex array of phospholipids that are synthesized de novo from precursors obtained either directly from the host, or as catabolised endocytosed lipids. This paper describes the use of nanoflow electrospray tandem mass spectrometry and high resolution mass spectrometry in both positive and negative ion modes, allowing the identification of ~500 individual molecular phospholipids species from total lipid extracts of cultured bloodstream and procyclic form T. brucei. Various molecular species of all of the major subclasses of glycerophospholipids were identified including phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidylinositol as well as phosphatidic acid, phosphatidylglycerol and cardolipin, and the sphingolipids sphingomyelin, inositol phosphoceramide and ethanolamine phosphoceramide. The lipidomic data obtained in this study will aid future biochemical phenotyping of either genetically or chemically manipulated commonly used bloodstream and procyclic strains of Trypanosoma brucei. Hopefully this will allow a greater understanding of the bizarre world of lipids in this important human pathogen.
PMCID: PMC3744936  PMID: 20602846
Phospholipid; Trypanosoma brucei; mass spectrometry; lipidomics
19.  First small molecular inhibitors of T. brucei dolicholphosphate mannose synthase (DPMS), a validated drug target in African sleeping sickness 
Drug-like molecules with activity against Trypanosoma brucei are urgently required as potential therapeutics for the treatment of African sleeping sickness. Starting from known inhibitors of other glycosyltransferases, we have developed the first small molecular inhibitors of dolicholphosphate mannose synthase (DPMS), a mannosyltransferase critically involved in glycoconjugate biosynthesis in T. brucei. We show that these DPMS inhibitors prevent the biosynthesis of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchors, and possess trypanocidal activity against live trypanosomes.
PMCID: PMC3744937  PMID: 19217283
African sleeping sickness; Trypanosoma; Dolicholphosphate mannose synthase; Enzyme inhibitors
20.  Lipid metabolism in Trypanosoma brucei 
Trypanosoma brucei membranes consist of all major eukaryotic glycerophospholipid and sphingolipid classes. These are de novo synthesized from precursors obtained either from the host or from catabolised endocytosed lipids. In recent years, substantial progress has been made in the molecular and biochemical characterisation of several of these lipid biosynthetic pathways, using gene knockout or RNA interference strategies or by enzymatic characterization of individual reactions. Together with the completed genome, these studies have highlighted several possible differences between mammalian and trypanosome lipid biosynthesis that could be exploited for the development of drugs against the diseases caused by these parasites.
PMCID: PMC3744938  PMID: 20382188
Trypanosoma; Phospholipids; Sphingolipids; Fatty acids; Biosynthesis; Metabolism; Gene IDs
21.  A novel phospholipase from Trypanosoma brucei 
Molecular microbiology  2007;63(4):1078-1095.
Phospholipase A1 activities have been detected in most cells where they have been sought and yet their characterization lags far behind that of the phospholipases A2, C and D. The study presented here details the first cloning and characterization of a cytosolic PLA1 that exhibits preference for phosphatidylcholine (GPCho) substrates. Trypanosoma brucei phospholipase A1 (TbPLA1) is unique from previously identified eukaryotic PLA1 because it is evolutionarily related to bacterial secreted PLA1. A T. brucei ancestor most likely acquired the PLA1 from a horizontal gene transfer of a PLA1 from Sodalis glossinidius, a bacterial endosymbiont of tsetse flies. Nano-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry analysis of TbPLA1 mutants established that the enzyme functions in vivo to synthesize lysoGPCho metabolites containing long-chain mostly polyunsaturated and highly unsaturated fatty acids. Analysis of purified mutated recombinant forms of TbPLA1 revealed that this enzyme is a serine hydrolase whose catalytic mechanism involves a triad consisting of the amino acid residues Ser-131, His-234 and Asp-183. The TbPLA1 homozygous null mutants generated here constitute the only PLA1 double knockouts from any organism.
PMCID: PMC3744940  PMID: 17238918
22.  Regulation of Trypanosoma brucei Total and Polysomal mRNA during Development within Its Mammalian Host 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67069.
The gene expression of Trypanosoma brucei has been examined extensively in the blood of mammalian hosts and in forms found in the midgut of its arthropod vector, the tsetse fly. However, trypanosomes also undergo development within the mammalian bloodstream as they progress from morphologically ‘slender forms’ to transmissible ‘stumpy forms’ through morphological intermediates. This transition is temporally progressive within the first wave of parasitaemia such that gene expression can be monitored in relatively pure slender and stumpy populations as well as during the progression between these extremes. The development also represents the progression of cells from translationally active forms adapted for proliferation in the host to translationally quiescent forms, adapted for transmission. We have used metabolic labelling to quantitate translational activity in slender forms, stumpy forms and in forms undergoing early differentiation to procyclic forms in vitro. Thereafter we have examined the cohort of total mRNAs that are enriched throughout development in the mammalian bloodstream (slender, intermediate and stumpy forms), irrespective of strain, revealing those that exhibit consistent developmental regulation rather than sample specific changes. Transcripts that cosediment with polysomes in stumpy forms and slender forms have also been enriched to identify transcripts that escape translational repression prior to transmission. Combined, the expression and polysomal association of transcripts as trypanosomes undergo development in the mammalian bloodstream have been defined, providing a resource for trypanosome researchers. This facilitates the identification of those that undergo developmental regulation in the bloodstream and therefore those likely to have a role in the survival and capacity for transmission of stumpy forms.
PMCID: PMC3694164  PMID: 23840587
23.  ALDH2 Mediates 5-Nitrofuran Activity in Multiple Species 
Chemistry & biology  2012;19(7):883-892.
Understanding how drugs work in vivo is critical for drug design and for maximizing the potential of currently available drugs. 5-nitrofurans are a class of prodrugs widely used to treat bacterial and trypanosome infections, but despite relative specificity, 5-nitrofurans often cause serious toxic side effects in people. Here, we use yeast and zebrafish, as well as human in vitro systems, to assess the biological activity of 5-nitrofurans, and we identify a conserved interaction between aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) 2 and 5-nitrofurans across these species. In addition, we show that the activity of nifurtimox, a 5-nitrofuran anti-trypanosome prodrug, is dependent on zebrafish Aldh2 and is a substrate for human ALDH2. This study reveals a conserved and biologically relevant ALDH2-5-nitrofuran interaction that may have important implications for managing the toxicity of 5-nitrofuran treatment.
PMCID: PMC3684953  PMID: 22840776
24.  Functional Analysis of Leishmania Cyclopropane Fatty Acid Synthetase 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51300.
The single gene encoding cyclopropane fatty acid synthetase (CFAS) is present in Leishmania infantum, L. mexicana and L. braziliensis but absent from L. major, a causative agent of cutaneous leishmaniasis. In L. infantum, usually causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis, the CFAS gene is transcribed in both insect (extracellular) and host (intracellular) stages of the parasite life cycle. Tagged CFAS protein is stably detected in intracellular L. infantum but only during the early log phase of extracellular growth, when it shows partial localisation to the endoplasmic reticulum. Lipid analyses of L. infantum wild type, CFAS null and complemented parasites detect a low abundance CFAS-dependent C19Δ fatty acid, characteristic of a cyclopropanated species, in wild type and add-back cells. Sub-cellular fractionation studies locate the C19Δ fatty acid to both ER and plasma membrane-enriched fractions. This fatty acid is not detectable in wild type L. major, although expression of the L. infantum CFAS gene in L. major generates cyclopropanated fatty acids, indicating that the substrate for this modification is present in L. major, despite the absence of the modifying enzyme. Loss of the L. infantum CFAS gene does not affect extracellular parasite growth, phagocytosis or early survival in macrophages. However, while endocytosis is also unaffected in the extracellular CFAS nulls, membrane transporter activity is defective and the null parasites are more resistant to oxidative stress. Following infection in vivo, L. infantum CFAS nulls exhibit lower parasite burdens in both the liver and spleen of susceptible hosts but it has not been possible to complement this phenotype, suggesting that loss of C19Δ fatty acid may lead to irreversible changes in cell physiology that cannot be rescued by re-expression. Aberrant cyclopropanation in L. major decreases parasite virulence but does not influence parasite tissue tropism.
PMCID: PMC3519623  PMID: 23251490
25.  ALDH2 Mediates 5-Nitrofuran Activity in Multiple Species 
Chemistry & Biology  2012;19(7):883-892.
Understanding how drugs work in vivo is critical for drug design and for maximizing the potential of currently available drugs. 5-nitrofurans are a class of prodrugs widely used to treat bacterial and trypanosome infections, but despite relative specificity, 5-nitrofurans often cause serious toxic side effects in people. Here, we use yeast and zebrafish, as well as human in vitro systems, to assess the biological activity of 5-nitrofurans, and we identify a conserved interaction between aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) 2 and 5-nitrofurans across these species. In addition, we show that the activity of nifurtimox, a 5-nitrofuran anti-trypanosome prodrug, is dependent on zebrafish Aldh2 and is a substrate for human ALDH2. This study reveals a conserved and biologically relevant ALDH2-5-nitrofuran interaction that may have important implications for managing the toxicity of 5-nitrofuran treatment.
Graphical Abstract
► Zebrafish provide a viable assay for the biological toxicity of 5-nitrofurans ► ALDH2 inhibitors prevent 5-nitrofuran toxicity in zebrafish and yeast ► Genetic dependence on ALDH2 for 5-nitrofuran toxicity in zebrafish and yeast systems ► 5-Nitrofurans bind to and are substrates of human ALDH2
5-nitrofurans are antibiotics activated by pathogen specific enzymes, however, less is known about what happens in the host. Zhou et al. identify aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 as a 5-nitrofuran activating enzyme that has implications for managing some of the toxicity associated with 5-nitrofuran treatment.
PMCID: PMC3684953  PMID: 22840776

Results 1-25 (41)