IL-23 and IL-12 are structurally similar and critical for the generation of efficient cellular immune responses. Toxoplasma gondii induces a strong cell-mediated immune response. However, little is known about IL-23 secretion profiles in T. gondii-infected immune cells in connection with IL-12. We compared the patterns of IL-23 and IL-12 production by THP-1 human monocytic cells in response to stimulation with live or heat-killed T. gondii tachyzoites, or with equivalent quantities of either T. gondii excretory/secretory proteins (ESP) or soluble tachyzoite antigen (STAg). IL-23 and IL-12 were significantly increased from 6 hr after stimulation with T. gondii antigens, and their secretions were increased with parasite dose-dependent manner. IL-23 concentrations were significantly higher than those of IL-12 at the same multiplicity of infection. IL-23 secretion induced by live parasites was significantly higher than that by heat-killed parasites, ESP, or STAg, whereas IL-12 secretion by live parasite was similar to those of ESP or STAg. However, the lowest levels of both cytokines were at stimulation with heat-killed parasites. These data indicate that IL-23 secretion patterns by stimulation with various kinds of T. gondii antigens at THP-1 monocytic cells are similar to those of IL-12, even though the levels of IL-23 induction were significantly higher than those of IL-12. The detailed kinetics induced by each T. gondii antigen were different from each other.
Toxoplasma gondii; IL-23; IL-12; THP-1 monocytic cell
Toxoplasma gondii is distributed worldwide and infects most species of warm-blooded animals, including humans. The heavy incidence and severe or lethal damage caused by T. gondii infection clearly indicates the need for the development of a vaccine. To evaluate the protective efficacy of a multiantigenic DNA vaccine expressing GRA7 and ROP1 of T. gondii with or without a plasmid encoding murine interleukin-12 (pIL12), we constructed DNA vaccines using the eukaryotic plasmids pGRA7, pROP1, and pGRA7-ROP1. Mice immunized with pGRA7, pROP1, or pGRA7-ROP1 showed significantly increased serum IgG2a titers; production of gamma interferon (IFN-γ), IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α); in vitro T cell proliferation; and survival, as well as decreased cyst burdens in the brain, compared to mice immunized with either the empty plasmid, pIL12, or vector with pIL12 (vector+pIL12). Moreover, mice immunized with the multiantigenic DNA vaccine pGRA7-ROP1 had higher IgG2a titers, production of IFN-γ and TNF-α, survival time, and cyst reduction rate compared to those of mice vaccinated with either pGRA7 or pROP1 alone. Furthermore, mice immunized with either a pGRA7-ROP1+pIL12 or a single-gene vaccine combined with pIL12 showed greater Th1 immune response and protective efficacy than the single-gene-vaccinated groups. Our data suggest that the multiantigenic DNA antigen pGRA7-ROP1 was more effective in stimulating host protective immune responses than separately injected single antigens, and that IL-12 serves as a good DNA adjuvant.
Toxoplasma gondii can modulate host cell gene expression; however, determining gene expression levels in intermediate hosts after T. gondii infection is not known much. We selected 5 genes (ALDH1A2, BEX2, CCL3, EGR2 and PLAU) and compared the mRNA expression levels in the spleen, liver, lung and small intestine of genetically different mice infected with T. gondii. ALDH1A2 mRNA expressions of both mouse strains were markedly increased at day 1-4 postinfection (PI) and then decreased, and its expressions in the spleen and lung were significantly higher in C57BL/6 mice than those of BALB/c mice. BEX2 and CCR3 mRNA expressions of both mouse strains were significantly increased from day 7 PI and peaked at day 15-30 PI (P<0.05), especially high in the spleen liver or small intestine of C57BL/6 mice. EGR2 and PLAU mRNA expressions of both mouse strains were significantly increased after infection, especially high in the spleen and liver. However, their expression patterns were varied depending on the tissue and mouse strain. Taken together, T. gondii-susceptible C57BL/6 mice expressed higher levels of these 5 genes than did T. gondii-resistant BALB/c mice, particularly in the spleen and liver. And ALDH1A2 and PLAU expressions were increased acutely, whereas BEX2, CCL3 and EGR2 expressions were increased lately. Thus, these demonstrate that host genetic factors exert a strong impact on the expression of these 5 genes and their expression patterns were varied depending on the gene or tissue.
Toxoplasma gondii; RT-PCR; mouse; ALDH1A2; BEX2; CCL3; EGR2; PLAU
We studied on the proteomic characteristics of Toxoplasma gondii KI-1 tachyzoites which were originally isolated from a Korean patient, and compared with those of the well-known virulent RH strain using 2-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE), mass spectrometry, and quantitative real-time PCR. Two-dimensional separation of the total proteins isolated from KI-1 tachyzoites revealed up to 150 spots, of which 121 were consistent with those of RH tachyzoites. Of the remaining 29 spots, 14 showed greater than 5-fold difference in density between the KI-1 and RH tachyzoites at a pH of 5.0-8.0. Among the 14 spots, 5 from the KI-1 isolate and 7 from the RH strain were identified using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry and database searches. The spots from the KI-1 tachyzoites were dense granule proteins (GRA 2, 3, 6, and 7), hypoxanthine-guanine-xanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HGRPTase), and uracil phosphoribosyltransferase (UPRTase). The spots from the RH strain were surface antigen 1 (SAG 1), L-lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), actin, chorismate synthase, peroximal catalase, hexokinase, bifunctional dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthase (DHTR-TS), and nucleoside-triphosphatases (NTPases). Quantitative real-time PCR supported our mass spectrometric results by showing the elevated expression of the genes encoding GRA 2, 3, and 6 and UPRTase in the KI-1 tachyzoites and those encoding GRA 7, SAG 1, NTPase, and chorismate synthase in the RH tachyzoites. These observations demonstrate that the protein compositions of KI-1 and RH tachyzoites are similar but differential protein expression is involved in virulence.
Toxoplasma gondii; Korean Isolate-1 (KI-1); proteomics; quantitative real time PCR
In this experiment, the correlation between antigenemia and specific antibody responses in Toxoplasma gondii-infected rabbits was assessed. We injected 1,000 T. gondii tachyzoites (RH) subcutaneously into 5 rabbits. Parasitemia, circulating antigens, and IgM and IgG antibody titers in blood were tested by ELISA and immunoblot. For detection of parasitemia, mice were injected with blood from rabbits infected with T. gondii and mice died between days 2 and 10 post-infection (PI). Circulating antigens were detected early on day 2 PI, and the titers increased from day 4 PI and peaked on day 12 PI. Anti-Toxoplasma IgM antibody titers increased on day 6 PI and peaked on days 14-16 PI. IgG was detected from day 10 PI, and the titers increased continuously during the experiment. The antigenic protein patterns differed during the infection period, and the number of bands increased with ongoing infection by the immunoblot analysis. These result indicated that Toxoplasma circulating antigens during acute toxoplasmosis are closely related to the presence of parasites in blood. Also, the circulating antigen levels were closely correlated with IgM titers, but not with IgG titers. Therefore, co-detection of circulating antigens with IgM antibodies may improve the reliability of the diagnosis of acute toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasma gondii; rabbit; antigenemia; parasitemia; antibody
To figure out the epidemiological status and relevance with other diseases in toxoplasmosis, we checked serum IgG antibody titers of 1,265 patients and medical records of seropositive patients. Seropositive rates were 6.6% by latex agglutination test (LAT) and 6.7% by ELISA. No significant differences were detected between sexes and age groups. The peak seroprevalence was detected in the 40-49-year-old age group. According to clinical department, Toxoplasma-positive rates were high in patients in psychiatry, ophthalmology, health management, emergency medicine, and thoracic surgery. Major coincidental diseases in seropositive cases were malignant neoplasms, diabetes mellitus, arthritis, chronic hepatitis B, chronic renal diseases, schizophrenia, and acute lymphadenitis, in the order of frequency. In particular, some patients with chronic hepatitis B and malignant neoplasms had high antibody titers. These results revealed that the seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis in a general hospital-based study was similar to that in a community-based study, and T. gondii seropositivity may be associated with neoplasms, diabetes, and other chronic infections.
Toxoplasma gondii; comorbidity; general hospital; seroprevalence; Daejeon
Huntington's Disease (HD) is a dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by expansion of a translated CAG repeat in the N-terminus of the huntingtin protein. Here we describe the generation and characterization of a novel full-length HD Drosophila model to reveal a previously unknown disease mechanism that occurs early in the course of pathogenesis, before expanded huntingtin is cleaved and imported into the nucleus in detectable amounts. We find that expanded full-length huntingtin (128QhttFL) leads to behavioral, neurodegenerative, and electrophysiological phenotypes. These phenotypes are caused by a Ca2+-dependent increase in neurotransmitter release efficiency in 128QhttFL animals. Partial loss of function in synaptic transmission (Syntaxin, Snap, Rop) and voltage-gated Ca2+ channel genes suppresses both the electrophysiological and the neurodegenerative phenotypes. Thus, our data indicate that increased neurotransmission is at the root of neuronal degeneration caused by expanded full-length huntingtin during early stages of pathogenesis.
Huntington's disease; neurodegeneration; neurotransmitter release; Drosophila; Syntaxin; Rop; Snap; Vo ATPase; calcium channel
Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative condition caused by expansion of the polyglutamine tract in the huntingtin (Htt) protein. Neuronal toxicity in HD is thought to be, at least in part, a consequence of protein interactions involving mutant Htt. We therefore hypothesized that genetic modifiers of HD neurodegeneration should be enriched among Htt protein interactors. To test this idea, we identified a comprehensive set of Htt interactors using two complementary approaches: high-throughput yeast two-hybrid screening and affinity pull down followed by mass spectrometry. This effort led to the identification of 234 high-confidence Htt-associated proteins, 104 of which were found with the yeast method and 130 with the pull downs. We then tested an arbitrary set of 60 genes encoding interacting proteins for their ability to behave as genetic modifiers of neurodegeneration in a Drosophila model of HD. This high-content validation assay showed that 27 of 60 orthologs tested were high-confidence genetic modifiers, as modification was observed with more than one allele. The 45% hit rate for genetic modifiers seen among the interactors is an order of magnitude higher than the 1%–4% typically observed in unbiased genetic screens. Genetic modifiers were similarly represented among proteins discovered using yeast two-hybrid and pull-down/mass spectrometry methods, supporting the notion that these complementary technologies are equally useful in identifying biologically relevant proteins. Interacting proteins confirmed as modifiers of the neurodegeneration phenotype represent a diverse array of biological functions, including synaptic transmission, cytoskeletal organization, signal transduction, and transcription. Among the modifiers were 17 loss-of-function suppressors of neurodegeneration, which can be considered potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Finally, we show that seven interacting proteins from among 11 tested were able to co-immunoprecipitate with full-length Htt from mouse brain. These studies demonstrate that high-throughput screening for protein interactions combined with genetic validation in a model organism is a powerful approach for identifying novel candidate modifiers of polyglutamine toxicity.
Huntington's Disease (HD) is a fatal inherited neurodegenerative disease, which typically begins in middle age and progresses with symptoms of severe uncontrolled movements and cognitive dysfunction. HD is uniformly fatal with death occurring ten to 15 years after onset of symptoms. There is currently no effective treatment for HD. The genetic mutation underlying HD causes a protein called huntingtin (Htt) to contain an abnormally long tract of the amino acid glutamine. This extended span of glutamines changes the shape of the Htt protein, which can cause it to interact in abnormal ways with other cellular proteins. In this study, we have identified a large number of new proteins that bind to normal and mutant forms of the Htt protein. To establish a potential role for these interacting proteins in HD, we show that changing the expression of many of these proteins can modulate the pathological effects of mutant Htt on fly neurons that deteriorate when they express mutant Htt. Identifying cellular proteins that bind to Htt and modulate its pathological activity may facilitate the discovery of an effective treatment for HD.
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphatase 3 (MKP-3) is a well-known negative regulator in the Ras/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-MAPK signaling pathway responsible for cell fate determination and proliferation during development. However, the physiological roles of MKP-3 and the mechanism by which MKP-3 regulates Ras/Drosophila ERK (DERK) signaling in vivo have not been determined. Here, we demonstrated that Drosophila MKP-3 (DMKP-3) is critically involved in cell differentiation, proliferation, and gene expression by suppressing the Ras/DERK pathway, specifically binding to DERK via the N-terminal ERK-binding domain of DMKP-3. Overexpression of DMKP-3 reduced the number of photoreceptor cells and inhibited wing vein differentiation. Conversely, DMKP-3 hypomorphic mutants exhibited extra photoreceptor cells and wing veins, and its null mutants showed striking phenotypes, such as embryonic lethality and severe defects in oogenesis. All of these phenotypes were highly similar to those of the gain-of-function mutants of DERK/rl. The functional interaction between DMKP-3 and the Ras/DERK pathway was further confirmed by genetic interactions between DMKP-3 loss-of-function mutants or overexpressing transgenic flies and various mutants of the Ras/DERK pathway. Collectively, these data provide the direct evidences that DMKP-3 is indispensable to the regulation of DERK signaling activity during Drosophila development.
Two Drosophila tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factors (TRAF), DTRAF1 and DTRAF2, are proposed to have similar functions with their mammalian counterparts as a signal mediator of cell surface receptors. However, their in vivo functions and related signaling pathways are not fully understood yet. Here, we show that DTRAF1 is an in vivo regulator of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) pathway in Drosophila melanogaster. Ectopic expression of DTRAF1 in the developing eye induced apoptosis, thereby causing a rough-eye phenotype. Further genetic interaction analyses revealed that the apoptosis in the eye imaginal disc and the abnormal eye morphogenesis induced by DTRAF1 are dependent on JNK and its upstream kinases, Hep and DTAK1. In support of these results, DTRAF1-null mutant showed a remarkable reduction in JNK activity with an impaired development of imaginal discs and a defective formation of photosensory neuron arrays. In contrast, DTRAF2 was demonstrated as an upstream activator of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB). Ectopic expression of DTRAF2 induced nuclear translocation of two Drosophila NF-κBs, DIF and Relish, consequently activating the transcription of the antimicrobial peptide genes diptericin, diptericin-like protein, and drosomycin. Consistently, the null mutant of DTRAF2 showed immune deficiencies in which NF-κB nuclear translocation and antimicrobial gene transcription against microbial infection were severely impaired. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that DTRAF1 and DTRAF2 play pivotal roles in Drosophila development and innate immunity by differentially regulating the JNK- and the NF-κB-dependent signaling pathway, respectively.
PDZ-GEF is a novel guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rap1 GTPase. Here we isolated Drosophila melanogaster PDZ-GEF (dPDZ-GEF), which contains the all-conserved domains of mammalian and nematode PDZ-GEF including cyclic nucleotide monophosphate-binding, Ras exchange motif, PDZ, RA, and GEF domains. dPDZ-GEF loss-of-function mutants were defective in the development of various organs including eye, wing, and ovary. Many of these phenotypes are strikingly similar to the phenotype of the rolled mutant, implying that dPDZ-GEF functions upstream of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway. Indeed, we found that dPDZ-GEF is specifically involved in photoreceptor cell differentiation, facilitating its neuronal fate via activation of the MAP kinase pathway. Rap1 was found to link dPDZ-GEF to the MAP kinase pathway; however, Ras was not involved in the regulation of the MAP kinase pathway by dPDZ-GEF and actually had an inhibitory function. The analyses of ovary development in dPDZ-GEF-deficient mutants also demonstrated another role of dPDZ-GEF independent of the MAP kinase signaling pathway. Collectively, our findings identify dPDZ-GEF as a novel upstream regulator of various morphogenetic pathways and demonstrate the presence of a novel, Ras-independent mechanism for activating the MAP kinase signaling pathway.