LncRNAs (long non-coding RNAs) have emerged as key molecular players in the regulation of gene expression in different biological processes. Their involvement in epigenetic processes includes the recruitment of histone-modifying enzymes and DNA methyltransferases, leading to the establishment of chromatin conformation patterns that ultimately result in the fine control of genes. Some of these genes are related to tumorigenesis and it is well documented that the misregulation of epigenetic marks leads to cancer. In this review, we highlight how some of the lncRNAs implicated in cancer are involved in the epigenetic control of gene expression. While very few lncRNAs have already been identified as players in determining the cancer-survival outcome in a number of different cancer types, for most of the lncRNAs associated with epigenetic regulation only their altered pattern of expression in cancer is demonstrated. Thanks to their tissue-specificity features, lncRNAs have already been proposed as diagnostic markers in specific cancer types. We envision the discovery of a wealth of novel spliced and unspliced intronic lncRNAs involved in epigenetic networks or in highly location-specific epigenetic control, which might be predominantly altered in specific cancer subtypes. We expect that the characterization of new lncRNA (long non-coding RNA)–protein and lncRNA–DNA interactions will contribute to the discovery of potential lncRNA targets for use in therapies against cancer.
cancer epigenetics; intergenic lncRNA; intronic lncRNA; long non-coding RNAs; regulatory RNA; RNA-guided gene silencing; ANRASSF1, antisense non-coding RNA in the RASSF1A locus; ANRIL, antisense non-coding RNA in the INK4 locus; AR, androgen receptor; ARF, ADP-ribosylation factor; CHD, chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein; CpG, cytosine phosphodiester bond guanine; CRC, colorectal cancer; CTBP1-AS, C-terminal binding protein 1 antisense; EZH2, enhancer of zeste homologue 2; H3K27me3, histone 3 lysine 27 trymethylated; HDAC, histone deacetylase; HDM, histone demethylase; HMT, histone methyltransferase; HOTAIR, homeobox antisense intergenic RNA; HOX, homeobox; INK4a, inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase 4a; INK4b, inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase 4b; LICR, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; lncRNA, long non-coding RNA; lincRNA, long intergenic non-coding RNA; LSD1, lysine (K)-specific demethylase 1A; MLL, mixed-lineage leukaemia; PCAT-1, prostate cancer-associated ncRNA transcript 1; PRC, polycomb repressive complex; PSF, phosphotyrosine-binding-associated splicing factor; RASSF1A, Ras association (RalGDS/AF-6) domain family member 1 isoform A; RNAPII, RNA polymerase II; SMARCA2, SWI/SNF-related, matrix-associated, actin-dependent regulator of chromatin, subfamily A, type 2 (also known as BRM); XCI, X chromosome inactivation; XIST, X-inactive specific transcript
The down-regulation of the tumor-suppressor gene RASSF1A has been shown to increase cell proliferation in several tumors. RASSF1A expression is regulated through epigenetic events involving the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2); however, the molecular mechanisms modulating the recruitment of this epigenetic modifier to the RASSF1 locus remain largely unknown. Here, we identify and characterize ANRASSF1, an endogenous unspliced long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) that is transcribed from the opposite strand on the RASSF1 gene locus in several cell lines and tissues and binds PRC2. ANRASSF1 is transcribed through RNA polymerase II and is 5′-capped and polyadenylated; it exhibits nuclear localization and has a shorter half-life compared with other lncRNAs that bind PRC2. ANRASSF1 endogenous expression is higher in breast and prostate tumor cell lines compared with non-tumor, and an opposite pattern is observed for RASSF1A. ANRASSF1 ectopic overexpression reduces RASSF1A abundance and increases the proliferation of HeLa cells, whereas ANRASSF1 silencing causes the opposite effects. These changes in ANRASSF1 levels do not affect the RASSF1C isoform abundance. ANRASSF1 overexpression causes a marked increase in both PRC2 occupancy and histone H3K27me3 repressive marks, specifically at the RASSF1A promoter region. No effect of ANRASSF1 overexpression was detected on PRC2 occupancy and histone H3K27me3 at the promoter regions of RASSF1C and the four other neighboring genes, including two well-characterized tumor suppressor genes. Additionally, we demonstrated that ANRASSF1 forms an RNA/DNA hybrid and recruits PRC2 to the RASSF1A promoter. Together, these results demonstrate a novel mechanism of epigenetic repression of the RASSF1A tumor suppressor gene involving antisense unspliced lncRNA, in which ANRASSF1 selectively represses the expression of the RASSF1 isoform overlapping the antisense transcript in a location-specific manner. In a broader perspective, our findings suggest that other non-characterized unspliced intronic lncRNAs transcribed in the human genome might contribute to a location-specific epigenetic modulation of genes.
RASSF1A is a tumor suppressor gene whose expression is repressed through epigenetic events in a wide range of different cancers. Repression is effected by DNA hypermethylation of the RASSF1A promoter, which in turn is triggered through histone H3K9/H3K27 trimethylation repressive marks. The addition of the H3K27me3 mark at the RASSF1A promoter locus involves the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). The molecular mechanisms that control the recruitment of PRC2 to the promoter to initiate H3K27 trimethylation and repress RASSF1A expression have not been described. Here, we identified a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), termed ANRASSF1 for antisense noncoding RASSF1, that is transcribed from the opposite strand of the RASSF1A gene and is responsible for recruiting PRC2 to the RASSF1A promoter region in a highly location-specific manner. No effect of ANRASSF1 was detected on the promoter of the RASSF1C isoform or the promoters of the four other genes within the vicinity of RASSF1, including two other well-characterized tumor suppressor genes. This work provides evidence that the epigenetic modulation of the tumor suppressor gene RASSF1A is dependent on the lncRNA ANRASSF1 and highlights the importance of further studies on the involvement of ANRASSF1 in tumorigenesis.
Schistosome parasites cause schistosomiasis, one of the most prevalent parasitemias worldwide affecting humans and animals. Constant pairing of schistosomes is essential for female sexual maturation and egg production, which causes pathogenesis. Female maturation involves signaling pathways controlling mitosis and differentiation within the gonads. In vitro studies had shown before that a Src-specific inhibitor, Herbimycin A (Herb A), and a TGFβ receptor (TβR) inhibitor (TRIKI) have physiological effects such as suppressed mitoses and egg production in paired females. As one Herb A target, the gonad-specifically expressed Src kinase SmTK3 was identified. Here, we comparatively analyzed the transcriptome profiles of Herb A- and TRIKI-treated females identifying transcriptional targets of Src-kinase and TβRI pathways. After demonstrating that TRIKI inhibits the schistosome TGFβreceptor SmTβRI by kinase assays in Xenopus oocytes, couples were treated with Herb A, TRIKI, or both inhibitors simultaneously in vitro. RNA was isolated from females for microarray hybridizations and transcription analyses. The obtained data were evaluated by Gene Ontology (GO) and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA), but also by manual classification and intersection analyses. Finally, extensive qPCR experiments were done to verify differential transcription of candidate genes under inhibitor influence but also to functionally reinforce specific physiological effects. A number of genes found to be differentially regulated are associated with mitosis and differentiation. Among these were calcium-associated genes and eggshell-forming genes. In situ hybridization confirmed transcription of genes coding for the calcium sensor hippocalcin, the calcium transporter ORAI-1, and the calcium-binding protein calmodulin-4 in the reproductive system pointing to a role of calcium in parasite reproduction. Functional qPCR results confirmed an inhibitor-influenced, varying dependence of the transcriptional activities of Smp14, Smp48, fs800, a predicted eggshell precursor protein and SmTYR1. The results show that eggshell-formation is regulated by at least two pathways cooperatively operating in a balanced manner to control egg production.
As one of the most prevalent parasitic infections worldwide, schistosomiasis is caused by blood-flukes of the genus Schistosoma. Pathology coincides with egg production, which is started upon pairing of the dioeciously living adults. A constant pairing contact is required to induce mitoses and differentiation processes in the female leading to the development of the gonads. Although long known, the molecular processes controlling gonad development or egg-production in schistosomes or other platyhelminths are largely unknown. Using an established in vitro-culture system and specific, chemical inhibitors we have obtained first evidence in previous studies for the participation of signal transduction processes playing essential roles in controlling mitoses, differentiation and egg production. In the present study we applied combinatory inhibitor treatments combined with subsequent microarray and qPCR analyses and demonstrate for the first time that cooperating Src-Kinase- und TGFβ-signaling pathways control mitoses and egg formation processes. Besides direct evidence for managing transcription of eggshell-forming genes, new target molecules of these pathways were identified. Among these are calcium-associated genes providing a first hint towards a role of this ion for reproduction. Our finding shed first light on the signaling mechanisms controlling egg formation, which is important for life-cycling and pathology.
Schistosoma mansoni is responsible for schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that affects 200 million people worldwide. Molecular mechanisms of host-parasite interaction are complex and involve a crosstalk between host signals and parasite receptors. TGF-β signaling pathway has been shown to play an important role in S. mansoni development and embryogenesis. In particular human (h) TGF-β has been shown to bind to a S. mansoni receptor, transduce a signal that regulates the expression of a schistosome target gene. Here we describe 381 parasite genes whose expression levels are affected by in vitro treatment with hTGF-β. Among these differentially expressed genes we highlight genes related to morphology, development and cell cycle that could be players of cytokine effects on the parasite. We confirm by qPCR the expression changes detected with microarrays for 5 out of 7 selected genes. We also highlight a set of non-coding RNAs transcribed from the same loci of protein-coding genes that are differentially expressed upon hTGF-β treatment. These datasets offer potential targets to be explored in order to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the possible role of hTGF-β effects on parasite biology.
Schistosoma mansoni; TGF-β signaling; host-parasite cross talk; microarray analysis; ncRNAs; gene network interactions
Schistosomiasis is a debilitating disease caused by flatworm parasites of the Schistosoma genus and remains a high public health impact disease around the world, although effective treatment with Praziquantel (PZQ) has been available since the 1970s. Control of this disease would be greatly improved by the development of a vaccine, which could be combined with chemotherapy. The sequencing of the Schistosoma mansoni transcriptome and genome identified a range of potential vaccine antigens. Among these, three nucleotidases from the tegument of the parasite, presumably involved in purinergic signaling and nucleotide metabolism, were proposed as promising vaccine candidates: an alkaline phosphatase (SmAP), a phosphodiesterase (SmNPP-5) and a diphosphohydrolase (SmNTPDase). Herein, we evaluate the potential of these enzymes as vaccine antigens, with or without subcurative PZQ treatment. Immunization of mice with the recombinant proteins alone or in combination demonstrated that SmAP is the most immunogenic of the three. It induced the highest antibody levels, particularly IgG1, associated with an inflammatory cellular immune response characterized by high TNF-α and a Th17 response, with high IL-17 expression levels. Despite the specific immune response induced, immunization with the isolated or combined proteins did not reduce the worm burden of challenged mice. Nonetheless, immunization with SmAP alone or with the three proteins combined, together with subcurative PZQ chemotherapy was able to reduce the worm burden by around 40%. The immunogenicity and relative exposure of SmAP to the host immune system are discussed, as key factors involved in the apparently synergistic effect of SmAP immunization and subcurative PZQ treatment.
Schistosoma mansoni; Vaccine; SmNTPDase Apyrase ATPDase; Alkaline phosphatase; Nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase SmNPP NPP; Tegument; Nucleotidases; Praziquantel
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) transcribed from intergenic and intronic regions of the human genome constitute a broad class of cellular transcripts that are under intensive investigation. While only a handful of lncRNAs have been characterized, their involvement in fundamental cellular processes that control gene expression highlights a central role in cell homeostasis. Not surprisingly, aberrant expression of regulatory lncRNAs has been increasingly documented in different types of cancer, where they can mediate both oncogenic or tumor suppressor effects. Interaction with chromatin remodeling complexes that promote silencing of specific genes or modulation of splicing factor proteins seem to be two general modes of lncRNA regulation, but it is conceivable that additional mechanisms of action are yet to be unveiled. LncRNAs show greater tissue specificity compared to protein-coding mRNAs making them attractive in the search of novel diagnostics/prognostics cancer biomarkers in body fluid samples. In fact, lncRNA prostate cancer antigen 3 can be detected in urine samples and has been shown to improve diagnosis of prostate cancer. We suggest that an unbiased screening of the presence of RNAs in easily accessible body fluids such as serum and urine might reveal novel circulating lncRNAs as potential biomarkers in many types of cancer. Annotation and functional characterization of the lncRNA complement of the cancer transcriptome will conceivably provide new venues for early diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
long non-coding RNA; cancer; diagnostics; expression signature
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is known by its aggressiveness and lack of effective therapeutic options. Thus, improvement in current knowledge of molecular changes associated with pancreatic cancer is urgently needed to explore novel venues of diagnostics and treatment of this dismal disease. While there is mounting evidence that long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) transcribed from intronic and intergenic regions of the human genome may play different roles in the regulation of gene expression in normal and cancer cells, their expression pattern and biological relevance in pancreatic cancer is currently unknown. In the present work we investigated the relative abundance of a collection of lncRNAs in patients' pancreatic tissue samples aiming at identifying gene expression profiles correlated to pancreatic cancer and metastasis.
Custom 3,355-element spotted cDNA microarray interrogating protein-coding genes and putative lncRNA were used to obtain expression profiles from 38 clinical samples of tumor and non-tumor pancreatic tissues. Bioinformatics analyses were performed to characterize structure and conservation of lncRNAs expressed in pancreatic tissues, as well as to identify expression signatures correlated to tissue histology. Strand-specific reverse transcription followed by PCR and qRT-PCR were employed to determine strandedness of lncRNAs and to validate microarray results, respectively.
We show that subsets of intronic/intergenic lncRNAs are expressed across tumor and non-tumor pancreatic tissue samples. Enrichment of promoter-associated chromatin marks and over-representation of conserved DNA elements and stable secondary structure predictions suggest that these transcripts are generated from independent transcriptional units and that at least a fraction is under evolutionary selection, and thus potentially functional.
Statistically significant expression signatures comprising protein-coding mRNAs and lncRNAs that correlate to PDAC or to pancreatic cancer metastasis were identified. Interestingly, loci harboring intronic lncRNAs differentially expressed in PDAC metastases were enriched in genes associated to the MAPK pathway. Orientation-specific RT-PCR documented that intronic transcripts are expressed in sense, antisense or both orientations relative to protein-coding mRNAs. Differential expression of a subset of intronic lncRNAs (PPP3CB, MAP3K14 and DAPK1 loci) in metastatic samples was confirmed by Real-Time PCR.
Our findings reveal sets of intronic lncRNAs expressed in pancreatic tissues whose abundance is correlated to PDAC or metastasis, thus pointing to the potential relevance of this class of transcripts in biological processes related to malignant transformation and metastasis in pancreatic cancer.
pancreatic cancer; molecular markers; noncoding RNAs; intronic transcription; metastasis; MAPK ; pathway; cDNA microarrays
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of clonal hematological disorders characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis with morphological evidence of marrow cell dysplasia resulting in peripheral blood cytopenia. Microarray technology has permitted a refined high-throughput mapping of the transcriptional activity in the human genome. Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) transcribed from intronic regions of genes are involved in a number of processes related to post-transcriptional control of gene expression, and in the regulation of exon-skipping and intron retention. Characterization of ncRNAs in progenitor cells and stromal cells of MDS patients could be strategic for understanding gene expression regulation in this disease.
In this study, gene expression profiles of CD34+ cells of 4 patients with MDS of refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (RARS) subgroup and stromal cells of 3 patients with MDS-RARS were compared with healthy individuals using 44 k combined intron-exon oligoarrays, which included probes for exons of protein-coding genes, and for non-coding RNAs transcribed from intronic regions in either the sense or antisense strands. Real-time RT-PCR was performed to confirm the expression levels of selected transcripts.
In CD34+ cells of MDS-RARS patients, 216 genes were significantly differentially expressed (q-value ≤ 0.01) in comparison to healthy individuals, of which 65 (30%) were non-coding transcripts. In stromal cells of MDS-RARS, 12 genes were significantly differentially expressed (q-value ≤ 0.05) in comparison to healthy individuals, of which 3 (25%) were non-coding transcripts.
These results demonstrated, for the first time, the differential ncRNA expression profile between MDS-RARS and healthy individuals, in CD34+ cells and stromal cells, suggesting that ncRNAs may play an important role during the development of myelodysplastic syndromes.
Schistosoma mansoni is the major causative agent of schistosomiasis. The parasite takes advantage of host signals to complete its development in the human body. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) is a human cytokine involved in skin inflammatory responses, and although its effect on the adult parasite's metabolism and egg-laying process has been previously described, a comprehensive assessment of the TNF-α pathway and its downstream molecular effects is lacking.
In the present work we describe a possible TNF-α receptor (TNFR) homolog gene in S. mansoni (SmTNFR). SmTNFR encodes a complete receptor sequence composed of 599 amino acids, and contains four cysteine-rich domains as described for TNFR members. Real-time RT-PCR experiments revealed that SmTNFR highest expression level is in cercariae, 3.5 (±0.7) times higher than in adult worms. Downstream members of the known human TNF-α pathway were identified by an in silico analysis, revealing a possible TNF-α signaling pathway in the parasite. In order to simulate parasite's exposure to human cytokine during penetration of the skin, schistosomula were exposed to human TNF-α just 3 h after cercariae-to-schistosomula in vitro transformation, and large-scale gene expression measurements were performed with microarrays. A total of 548 genes with significantly altered expression were detected, when compared to control parasites. In addition, treatment of adult worms with TNF-α caused a significantly altered expression of 1857 genes. Interestingly, the set of genes altered in adults is different from that of schistosomula, with 58 genes in common, representing 3% of altered genes in adults and 11% in 3 h-old early schistosomula.
We describe the possible molecular elements and targets involved in human TNF-α effect on S. mansoni, highlighting the mechanism by which recently transformed schistosomula may sense and respond to this host mediator at the site of cercarial penetration into the skin.
Schistosoma mansoni is the major causative agent of schistosomiasis in the Americas. This parasite takes advantage of host signaling molecules such as cytokines and hormones to complete its development inside the host. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) is one of the most important host cytokines involved in the inflammatory response. When cercariae, the infective stage, penetrates the human skin the release of TNF-α is started. In this work the authors describe the complete sequence of a possible TNF-α receptor in S. mansoni and detect that the receptor is most highly expressed in cercariae among all life cycle stages. Aiming to mimic the situation at the site of skin penetration, cercariae were mechanically transformed in vitro into schistosomula and exposed to human TNF-α. Exposure of early-developing schistosomula to the human hormone caused a large-scale change in the expression of parasite genes. Exposure of adult worms to human TNF-α caused gene expression changes as well, and the set of parasite altered genes in the adult parasite was different from that of schistosomula. This work increases the number of known signaling pathways of the parasite, and opens new perspectives into understanding the molecular components of TNF-α response as well as into possibly interfering with parasite–host interaction.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are multipotent cells which can be obtained from several adult and fetal tissues including human umbilical cord units. We have recently shown that umbilical cord tissue (UC) is richer in MSC than umbilical cord blood (UCB) but their origin and characteristics in blood as compared to the cord remains unknown. Here we compared, for the first time, the exonic protein-coding and intronic noncoding RNA (ncRNA) expression profiles of MSC from match-paired UC and UCB samples, harvested from the same donors, processed simultaneously and under the same culture conditions. The patterns of intronic ncRNA expression in MSC from UC and UCB paired units were highly similar, indicative of their common donor origin. The respective exonic protein-coding transcript expression profiles, however, were significantly different. Hierarchical clustering based on protein-coding expression similarities grouped MSC according to their tissue location rather than original donor. Genes related to systems development, osteogenesis and immune system were expressed at higher levels in UCB, whereas genes related to cell adhesion, morphogenesis, secretion, angiogenesis and neurogenesis were more expressed in UC cells. These molecular differences verified in tissue-specific MSC gene expression may reflect functional activities influenced by distinct niches and should be considered when developing clinical protocols involving MSC from different sources. In addition, these findings reinforce our previous suggestion on the importance of banking the whole umbilical cord unit for research or future therapeutic use.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12015-009-9098-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Human umbilical cord; Human umbilical cord blood; Mesenchymal stem cells; Comparative gene expression profile
The parasitic trematode Schistosoma mansoni is one of the major causative agents of human schistosomiasis, which afflicts 200 million people worldwide. Praziquantel remains the main drug used for schistosomiasis treatment, and reliance on the single therapy has been prompting the search for new therapeutic compounds against this disease. Our group has demonstrated that heme crystallization into hemozoin (Hz) within the S. mansoni gut is a major heme detoxification route with lipid droplets involved in this process and acting as a potential chemotherapeutical target. In the present work, we investigated the effects of three antimalarial compounds, quinine (QN), quinidine (QND) and quinacrine (QCR) in a murine schistosomiasis model by using a combination of biochemical, cell biology and molecular biology approaches.
Treatment of S. mansoni-infected female Swiss mice with daily intraperitoneal injections of QN, and QND (75 mg/kg/day) from the 11th to 17th day after infection caused significant decreases in worm burden (39%–61%) and egg production (42%–98%). Hz formation was significantly inhibited (40%–65%) in female worms recovered from QN- and QND-treated mice and correlated with reduction in the female worm burden. We also observed that QN treatment promoted remarkable ultrastructural changes in male and female worms, particularly in the gut epithelium and reduced the granulomatous reaction to parasite eggs trapped in the liver. Microarray gene expression analysis indicated that QN treatment increased the expression of transcripts related to musculature, protein synthesis and repair mechanisms.
The overall significant reduction in several disease burden parameters by the antimalarial quinoline methanols indicates that interference with Hz formation in S. mansoni represents an important mechanism of schistosomicidal action of these compounds and points out the heme crystallization process as a valid chemotherapeutic target to treat schistosomiasis.
Heme is an essential molecule to most living organisms, but once in a free state it exerts toxic effects. Blood-feeding organisms evolved efficient ways to detoxify free heme derived from hemoglobin digestion. A key mechanism present in some hematophagous organisms consists of the crystallization of heme into a pigment named hemozoin. Schistosoma mansoni is one of the etiologic agents of human schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that affects over 200 million people in tropical and subtropical areas. Hemozoin formation represents the main heme detoxification pathway in S. mansoni. Here, we report that the antimalarial quinoline methanols quinine and quinidine exert schistosomicidal effects notably due to their capacity to interfere with hemozoin formation. When quinine or quinidine were administered intraperitoneally during seven days to S. mansoni-infected mice (75 mg/kg/day), both worm and eggs burden were significantly reduced. Interestingly, hemozoin content in female worms was drastically affected after treatment with either compound. We also found that quinine caused important changes in the cellular organization of worm gastrodermis and increased expression of genes related to musculature, protein synthesis and repair mechanisms. Together, our results indicate that interference with hemozoin formation is a valid chemotherapeutic target for development of new schistosomicidal agents.
The protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi is the causative agent of Chagas disease. There are no vaccines or effective treatment, especially in the chronic phase when most patients are diagnosed. There is a clear necessity to develop new drugs and strategies for the control and treatment of Chagas disease. Recent papers have suggested the ecto-nucleotidases (from CD39 family) from pathogenic agents as important virulence factors. In this study we evaluated the influence of Ecto-Nucleoside-Triphosphate-Diphosphohydrolase (Ecto-NTPDase) activity on infectivity and virulence of T. cruzi using both in vivo and in vitro models.
We followed Ecto-NTPDase activities of Y strain infective forms (trypomastigotes) obtained during sequential sub-cultivation in mammalian cells. ATPase/ADPase activity ratios of cell-derived trypomastigotes decreased 3- to 6-fold and infectivity was substantially reduced during sequential sub-cultivation. Surprisingly, at third to fourth passages most of the cell-derived trypomastigotes could not penetrate mammalian cells and had differentiated into amastigote-like parasites that exhibited 3- to 4-fold lower levels of Ecto-NTPDase activities. To evidence the participation of T. cruzi Ecto-NTPDase1 in the infective process, we evaluated the effect of known Ecto-ATPDase inhibitors (ARL 67156, Gadolinium and Suramin), or anti-NTPDase-1 polyclonal antiserum on ATPase and ADPase hydrolytic activities in recombinant T. cruzi NTPDase-1 and in live trypomastigotes. All tests showed a partial inhibition of Ecto-ATPDase activities and a marked inhibition of trypomastigotes infectivity. Mice infections with Ecto-NTPDase-inhibited trypomastigotes produced lower levels of parasitemia and higher host survival than with non-inhibited control parasites.
Our results suggest that Ecto-ATPDases act as facilitators of infection and virulence in vitro and in vivo and emerge as target candidates in chemotherapy of Chagas disease.
The protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi is the causative agent of Chagas disease, an endemic zoonosis present in some countries of South and Central Americas. The World Health Organization estimates that 100 million people are at risk of acquiring this disease. The infection affects mainly muscle tissues in the heart and digestive tract. There are no vaccines or effective treatment, especially in the chronic phase when most patients are diagnosed, which makes a strong case for the development of new drugs to treat the disease. In this work we evaluate a family of proteins called Ecto-Nucleoside-Triphosphate-Diphosphohydrolase (Ecto-NTPDase) as new chemotherapy target to block T. cruzi infection in mammalian cells and in mice. We have used inhibitors and antibodies against this protein and demonstrated that T. cruzi Ecto-NTPDases act as facilitators of infection in mammalian cells and virulence factors in mice model. Two of the drugs used in this study (Suramin and Gadolinium) are currently used for other diseases in humans, supporting the possibility of their use in the treatment of Chagas disease.
Schistosomiasis continues to be a significant public health problem. This disease affects 200 million people worldwide and almost 800 million people are at risk of acquiring the infection. Although vaccine development against this disease has experienced more failures than successes, encouraging results have recently been obtained using membrane-spanning protein antigens from the tegument of Schistosoma mansoni. Our group recently identified Sm29, another antigen that is present at the adult worm tegument surface. In this study, we investigated murine cellular immune responses to recombinant (r) Sm29 and tested this protein as a vaccine candidate.
Methods and Findings
We first show that Sm29 is located on the surface of adult worms and lung-stage schistosomula through confocal microscopy. Next, immunization of mice with rSm29 engendered 51%, 60% and 50% reduction in adult worm burdens, in intestinal eggs and in liver granuloma counts, respectively (p<0.05). Protective immunity in mice was associated with high titers of specific anti-Sm29 IgG1 and IgG2a and elevated production of IFN-γ, TNF-α and IL-12, a typical Th1 response. Gene expression analysis of worms recovered from rSm29 vaccinated mice relative to worms from control mice revealed a significant (q<0.01) down-regulation of 495 genes and up-regulation of only 22 genes. Among down-regulated genes, many of them encode surface antigens and proteins associated with immune signals, suggesting that under immune attack schistosomes reduce the expression of critical surface proteins.
This study demonstrates that Sm29 surface protein is a new vaccine candidate against schistosomiasis and suggests that Sm29 vaccination associated with other protective critical surface antigens is the next logical strategy for improving protection.
Schistosomiasis is the most important human helminth infection in terms of morbidity and mortality. Although the efforts to develop a vaccine against this disease have experienced failures, a new generation of surface antigens revealed by proteomic studies changed this scenario. Our group has characterized the protein Sm29 described previously as one of the most exposed and expressed antigens in the outer tegument of Schistosoma mansoni. Studies in patients living in endemic areas for schistosomiasis revealed high levels of IgG1 and IgG3 anti-Sm29 in resistant individuals. In this study, confocal microscope analysis showed Sm29 present in the surface of lung-stage schistosoluma and adult worms. Recombinant Sm29, when used as vaccine candidate, induced high levels of protection in mice. This protection was associated with a typical Th1 immune response and reduction of worm burden, liver granulomas and in intestinal eggs. Further, microarray analysis of worms recovered from vaccinated mice showed significant down-regulation of several genes encoding previously characterized vaccine candidates and/or molecules exposed on the surface, suggesting an immune evasion strategy of schistosomes under immune attack. These results demonstrated that Sm29 as one of the important antigens with potential to compose a vaccine against schistosomiasis.
Schistosoma mansoni is a blood helminth parasite that causes schistosomiasis, a disease that affects 200 million people in the world. Many orthologs of known mammalian genes have been discovered in this parasite and evidence is accumulating that some of these genes encode proteins linked to signaling pathways in the parasite that appear to be involved with growth or development, suggesting a complex co-evolutionary process.
In this work we found 427 genes conserved in the Deuterostomia group that have orthologs in S. mansoni and no members in any nematodes and insects so far sequenced. Among these genes we have identified Insulin Induced Gene (INSIG), Interferon Regulatory Factor (IRF) and vasohibin orthologs, known to be involved in mammals in mevalonate metabolism, immune response and angiogenesis control, respectively. We have chosen these three genes for a more detailed characterization, which included extension of their cloned messages to obtain full-length sequences. Interestingly, SmINSIG showed a 10-fold higher expression in adult females as opposed to males, in accordance with its possible role in regulating egg production. SmIRF has a DNA binding domain, a tryptophan-rich N-terminal region and several predicted phosphorylation sites, usually important for IRF activity. Fourteen different alternatively spliced forms of the S. mansoni vasohibin (SmVASL) gene were detected that encode seven different protein isoforms including one with a complete C-terminal end, and other isoforms with shorter C-terminal portions. Using S. mansoni homologs, we have employed a parsimonious rationale to compute the total gene losses/gains in nematodes, arthropods and deuterostomes under either the Coelomata or the Ecdysozoa evolutionary hypotheses; our results show a lower losses/gains number under the latter hypothesis.
The genes discussed which are conserved between S. mansoni and deuterostomes, probably have an ancient origin and were lost in Ecdysozoa, being still present in Lophotrochozoa. Given their known functions in Deuterostomia, it is possible that some of them have been co-opted to perform functions related (directly or indirectly) to host adaptation or interaction with host signaling processes.
Apert syndrome (AS), a severe form of craniosynostosis, is caused by dominant gain-of-function mutations in FGFR2. Because the periosteum contribution to AS cranial pathophysiology is unknown, we tested the osteogenic potential of AS periosteal cells (p.Ser252Trp mutation) and observed that these cells are more committed toward the osteoblast lineage. To delineate the gene expression profile involved in this abnormal behavior, we performed a global gene expression analysis of coronal suture periosteal cells from seven AS patients (p.Ser252Trp), and matched controls. We identified 263 genes with significantly altered expression in AS samples (118 upregulated, 145 downregulated; SNR ≥ |0.4|, P ≤ 0.05). Several upregulated genes are involved in positive regulation of cell proliferation and nucleotide metabolism, whereas several downregulated genes are involved in inhibition of cell proliferation, gene expression regulation, cell adhesion, and extracellular matrix organization, and in PIK3-MAPK cascades. AS expression profile was confirmed through real-time PCR of a selected set of genes using RNAs from AS and control cells as well as from control cells treated with high FGF2 concentration, and through the analysis of genes involved in FGF-FGFR signaling. Our results allowed us to: (a) suggest that AS periosteal cells present enhanced osteogenic potential, (b) unravel a specific gene expression signature characteristic of AS periosteal cells which may be associated with their osteogenic commitment, (c) identify a set of novel genes involved in the pathophysiology of AS or other craniosynostotic conditions, and (d) suggest for the first time that the periosteum might be involved in the pathophysiology of AS.
Five species of the genus Schistosoma, a parasitic trematode flatworm, are causative agents of Schistosomiasis, a disease that is endemic in a large number of developing countries, affecting millions of patients around the world. By using SAGE (Serial Analysis of Gene Expression) we describe here the first large-scale quantitative analysis of the Schistosoma mansoni transcriptome, one of the most epidemiologically relevant species of this genus.
After extracting mRNA from pooled male and female adult-worms, a SAGE library was constructed and sequenced, generating 68,238 tags that covered more than 6,000 genes expressed in this developmental stage. An analysis of the ordered tag-list shows the genes of F10 eggshell protein, pol-polyprotein, HSP86, 14-3-3 and a transcript yet to be identified to be the five top most abundant genes in pooled adult worms. Whereas only 8% of the 100 most abundant tags found in adult worms of S. mansoni could not be assigned to transcripts of this parasite, 46.9% of the total ditags could not be mapped, demonstrating that the 3 sequence of most of the rarest transcripts are still to be identified. Mapping of our SAGE tags to S. mansoni genes suggested the occurrence of alternative-polyadenylation in at least 13 gene transcripts. Most of these events seem to shorten the 3 UTR of the mRNAs, which may have consequences over their stability and regulation.
SAGE revealed the frequency of expression of the majority of the S. mansoni genes. Transcriptome data suggests that alternative polyadenylation is likely to be used in the control of mRNA stability in this organism. When transcriptome was compared with the proteomic data available, we observed a correlation of about 50%, suggesting that both transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation are important for determining protein abundance in S. mansoni. The generation of SAGE tags from other life-cycle stages should contribute to reveal the dynamics of gene expression in this important parasite.
An analysis of the expression of 7,135 human totally intronic noncoding RNA transcripts plus the corresponding protein-coding genes using oligonucleotide arrays has identified diverse intronic RNA expression patterns, pointing to distinct regulatory roles.
RNAs transcribed from intronic regions of genes are involved in a number of processes related to post-transcriptional control of gene expression. However, the complement of human genes in which introns are transcribed, and the number of intronic transcriptional units and their tissue expression patterns are not known.
A survey of mRNA and EST public databases revealed more than 55,000 totally intronic noncoding (TIN) RNAs transcribed from the introns of 74% of all unique RefSeq genes. Guided by this information, we designed an oligoarray platform containing sense and antisense probes for each of 7,135 randomly selected TIN transcripts plus the corresponding protein-coding genes. We identified exonic and intronic tissue-specific expression signatures for human liver, prostate and kidney. The most highly expressed antisense TIN RNAs were transcribed from introns of protein-coding genes significantly enriched (p = 0.002 to 0.022) in the 'Regulation of transcription' Gene Ontology category. RNA polymerase II inhibition resulted in increased expression of a fraction of intronic RNAs in cell cultures, suggesting that other RNA polymerases may be involved in their biosynthesis. Members of a subset of intronic and protein-coding signatures transcribed from the same genomic loci have correlated expression patterns, suggesting that intronic RNAs regulate the abundance or the pattern of exon usage in protein-coding messages.
We have identified diverse intronic RNA expression patterns, pointing to distinct regulatory roles. This gene-oriented approach, using a combined intron-exon oligoarray, should permit further comparative analysis of intronic transcription under various physiological and pathological conditions, thus advancing current knowledge about the biological functions of these noncoding RNAs.
Transcription of large numbers of non-coding RNAs originating from intronic regions of human genes has been recently reported, but mechanisms governing their biosynthesis and biological functions are largely unknown. In this work, we evaluated the existence of a common mechanism of transcription regulation shared by protein-coding mRNAs and intronic RNAs by measuring the effect of androgen on the transcriptional profile of a prostate cancer cell line.
Using a custom-built cDNA microarray enriched in intronic transcribed sequences, we found 39 intronic non-coding RNAs for which levels were significantly regulated by androgen exposure. Orientation-specific reverse transcription-PCR indicated that 10 of the 13 were transcribed in the antisense direction. These transcripts are long (0.5–5 kb), unspliced and apparently do not code for proteins. Interestingly, we found that the relative levels of androgen-regulated intronic transcripts could be correlated with the levels of the corresponding protein-coding gene (asGAS6 and asDNAJC3) or with the alternative usage of exons (asKDELR2 and asITGA6) in the corresponding protein-coding transcripts. Binding of the androgen receptor to a putative regulatory region upstream from asMYO5A, an androgen-regulated antisense intronic transcript, was confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation.
Altogether, these results indicate that at least a fraction of naturally transcribed intronic non-coding RNAs may be regulated by common physiological signals such as hormones, and further corroborate the notion that the intronic complement of the transcriptome play functional roles in the human gene-expression program.
The CACTA (also called En/Spm) superfamily of DNA-only transposons contain the core sequence CACTA in their Terminal Inverted Repeats (TIRs) and so far have only been described in plants. Large transcriptome and genome sequence data have recently become publicly available for Schistosoma mansoni, a digenetic blood fluke that is a major causative agent of schistosomiasis in humans, and have provided a comprehensive repository for the discovery of novel genes and repetitive elements. Despite the extensive description of retroelements in S. mansoni, just a single DNA-only transposon belonging to the Merlin family has so far been reported in this organism.
We describe a novel S. mansoni transposon named SmTRC1, for S. mansoni Transposon Related to CACTA 1, an element that shares several characteristics with plant CACTA transposons. Southern blotting indicates approximately 30–300 copies of SmTRC1 in the S. mansoni genome. Using genomic PCR followed by cloning and sequencing, we amplified and characterized a full-length and a truncated copy of this element. RT-PCR using S. mansoni mRNA followed by cloning and sequencing revealed several alternatively spliced transcripts of this transposon, resulting in distinct ORFs coding for different proteins. Interestingly, a survey of complete genomes from animals and fungi revealed several other novel TRC elements, indicating new families of DNA transposons belonging to the CACTA superfamily that have not previously been reported in these kingdoms. The first three bases in the S. mansoni TIR are CCC and they are identical to those in the TIRs of the insects Aedes aegypti and Tribolium castaneum, suggesting that animal TRCs may display a CCC core sequence.
The DNA-only transposable element SmTRC1 from S. mansoni exhibits various characteristics, such as generation of multiple alternatively-spliced transcripts, the presence of terminal inverted repeats at the extremities of the elements flanked by direct repeats and the presence of a Transposase_21 domain, that suggest a distant relationship to CACTA transposons from Magnoliophyta. Several sequences from other Metazoa and Fungi code for proteins similar to those encoded by SmTRC1, suggesting that such elements have a common ancestry, and indicating inheritance through vertical transmission before separation of the Eumetazoa, Fungi and Plants.
Members of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) superfamily play pivotal roles in development in multicellular organisms. We report the functional characterization of the Schistosoma mansoni type II receptor (SmTβRII). Mining of the S. mansoni expressed sequence tag (EST) database identified an EST clone that shows homology to the kinase domain of type II receptors from different species. The amplified EST sequence was used as a probe to isolate a cDNA clone spanning the entire coding region of a type II serine/threonine kinase receptor. The interaction of SmTβRII with SmTβRI was elucidated and shown to be dependent on TGF-β ligand binding. Furthermore, in the presence of human TGF-β1, SmTβRII was able to activate SmTβRI, which in turn activated SmSmad2 and promoted its interaction with SmSmad4, proving the transfer of the signal from the receptor complex to the Smad proteins. Gynaecophoral canal protein (GCP), whose expression in male worms is limited to the gynaecophoric canal, was identified as a potential TGF-β target gene in schistosomes. Knocking down the expression of SmTβRII using short interfering RNA molecules (siRNA) resulted in a concomitant reduction in the expression of GCP. These data provide evidence for the direct involvement of SmTβRII in mediating TGF-β–induced activation of the TGF-β target gene, SmGCP, within schistosome parasites. The results also provide additional evidence for a role for the TGF-β signaling pathway in male-induced female reproductive development.
Schistosomes are multicellular parasites that infect 200 million people worldwide. Schistosome development in the human host likely involves host molecules that regulate biological processes of the parasite. Members of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) superfamily play pivotal roles in development in multicellular organisms. TGF-β signaling requires ligand binding to a specific surface receptor, TGF-β type II receptor. The authors isolated the schistosome TGF-β type II receptor (SmTβRII), which was found to be biologically active and responded to stimulation by host TGF-β. The gynaecophoric canal is a ventral groove in the male worm in which the female must reside for sexual maturity. Gynaecophoral canal protein (GCP) is a protein whose expression in male worms is limited to the gynaecophoric canal and is implicated in female reproductive maturation. GCP expression was found to be regulated by human TGF-β. Knocking down the expression of SmTβRII resulted in a concomitant reduction in the expression of GCP, providing evidence for the direct involvement of SmTβRII-mediated, host TGF-β–induced regulation of schistosome gene expression. This study implicates the TGF-β signaling pathway in worm pairing, a prerequisite for female egg production. Because the eggs produced by the worm pairs are responsible for pathogenesis, the authors' research identifies potential targets for intervention.
Spotted cDNA microarrays generally employ co-hybridization of fluorescently-labeled RNA targets to produce gene expression ratios for subsequent analysis. Direct comparison of two RNA samples in the same microarray provides the highest level of accuracy; however, due to the number of combinatorial pair-wise comparisons, the direct method is impractical for studies including large number of individual samples (e.g., tumor classification studies). For such studies, indirect comparisons using a common reference standard have been the preferred method. Here we evaluated the precision and accuracy of reconstructed ratios from three indirect methods relative to ratios obtained from direct hybridizations, herein considered as the gold-standard.
We performed hybridizations using a fixed amount of Cy3-labeled reference oligonucleotide (RefOligo) against distinct Cy5-labeled targets from prostate, breast and kidney tumor samples. Reconstructed ratios between all tissue pairs were derived from ratios between each tissue sample and RefOligo. Reconstructed ratios were compared to (i) ratios obtained in parallel from direct pair-wise hybridizations of tissue samples, and to (ii) reconstructed ratios derived from hybridization of each tissue against a reference RNA pool (RefPool). To evaluate the effect of the external references, reconstructed ratios were also calculated directly from intensity values of single-channel (One-Color) measurements derived from tissue sample data collected in the RefOligo experiments. We show that the average coefficient of variation of ratios between intra- and inter-slide replicates derived from RefOligo, RefPool and One-Color were similar and 2 to 4-fold higher than ratios obtained in direct hybridizations. Correlation coefficients calculated for all three tissue comparisons were also similar. In addition, the performance of all indirect methods in terms of their robustness to identify genes deemed as differentially expressed based on direct hybridizations, as well as false-positive and false-negative rates, were found to be comparable.
RefOligo produces ratios as precise and accurate as ratios reconstructed from a RNA pool, thus representing a reliable alternative in reference-based hybridization experiments. In addition, One-Color measurements alone can reconstruct expression ratios without loss in precision or accuracy. We conclude that both methods are adequate options in large-scale projects where the amount of a common reference RNA pool is usually restrictive.
Xylella fastidiosa is a phytopathogenic bacterium that causes serious diseases in a wide range of economically important crops. Despite extensive comparative analyses of genome sequences of Xylella pathogenic strains from different plant hosts, nonpathogenic strains have not been studied. In this report, we show that X. fastidiosa strain J1a12, associated with citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC), is nonpathogenic when injected into citrus and tobacco plants. Furthermore, a DNA microarray-based comparison of J1a12 with 9a5c, a CVC strain that is highly pathogenic and had its genome completely sequenced, revealed that 14 coding sequences of strain 9a5c are absent or highly divergent in strain J1a12. Among them, we found an arginase and a fimbrial adhesin precursor of type III pilus, which were confirmed to be absent in the nonpathogenic strain by PCR and DNA sequencing. The absence of arginase can be correlated to the inability of J1a12 to multiply in host plants. This enzyme has been recently shown to act as a bacterial survival mechanism by down-regulating host nitric oxide production. The lack of the adhesin precursor gene is in accordance with the less aggregated phenotype observed for J1a12 cells growing in vitro. Thus, the absence of both genes can be associated with the failure of the J1a12 strain to establish and spread in citrus and tobacco plants. These results provide the first detailed comparison between a nonpathogenic strain and a pathogenic strain of X. fastidiosa, constituting an important step towards understanding the molecular basis of the disease.
Using the data set of 180,000 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) of the blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni generated recently by our group, we identified three novel long-terminal-repeat (LTR)- and one novel non-LTR-expressed retrotransposon, named Saci-1, -2, and -3 and Perere, respectively. Full-length sequences were reconstructed from ESTs and have deduced open reading frames (ORFs) with several uncorrupted features, characterizing them as possible active retrotransposons of different known transposon families. Alignment of reconstructed sequences to available preliminary genome sequence data confirmed the overall structure of the transposons. The frequency of sequenced transposon transcripts in cercariae was 14% of all transcripts from that stage, twofold higher than that in schistosomula and three- to fourfold higher than that in adults, eggs, miracidia, and germ balls. We show by Southern blot analysis, by EST annotation and tallying, and by counting transposon tags from a Social Analysis of Gene Expression library, that the four novel retrotransposons exhibit a 10- to 30-fold lower copy number in the genome and a 4- to 200-fold-higher transcriptional rate per copy than the four previously described S. mansoni retrotransposons. Such differences lead us to hypothesize that there are two different populations of retrotransposons in S. mansoni genome, occupying different niches in its ecology. Examples of retrotransposon fragment inserts were found into the 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions of four different S. mansoni target gene transcripts. The data presented here suggest a role for these elements in the dynamics of this complex human parasite genome.