Giardia lamblia is a leading protozoan cause of diarrheal disease worldwide, yet preventive medical strategies are not available. A crude veterinary vaccine has been licensed for cats and dogs, but no defined human vaccine is available. We tested the vaccine potential of three conserved antigens previously identified in human and murine giardiasis, α1-giardin, α-enolase, and ornithine carbamoyl transferase, in a murine model of G. lamblia infection. Live recombinant attenuated Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium vaccine strains were constructed that stably expressed each antigen, maintained colonization capacity, and sustained total attenuation in the host. Oral administration of the vaccine strains induced antigen-specific serum IgG, particularly IgG2A, and mucosal IgA for α1-giardin and α-enolase, but not for ornithine carbamoyl transferase. Immunization with the α1-giardin vaccine induced significant protection against subsequent G. lamblia challenge, which was further enhanced by boosting with cholera toxin or sublingual α1-giardin administration. The α-enolase vaccine afforded no protection. Analysis of α1-giardin from divergent assemblage A and B isolates of G. lamblia revealed >97% amino acid sequence conservation and immunological cross-reactivity, further supporting the potential utility of this antigen in vaccine development. Together. these results indicate that α1-giardin is a suitable candidate antigen for a vaccine against giardiasis.
Giardiasis; live oral vaccines; animal models
Giardia lamblia, an important cause of diarrheal disease, resides in the small intestinal lumen in close apposition to epithelial cells. Since the disease mechanisms underlying giardiasis are poorly understood, elucidating the specific interactions of the parasite with the host epithelium is likely to provide clues to understanding the pathogenesis. Here we tested the hypothesis that contact of Giardia lamblia with intestinal epithelial cells might lead to release of specific proteins. Using established co-culture models, intestinal ligated loops and a proteomics approach, we identified three G. lamblia proteins (arginine deiminase, ornithine carbamoyl transferase and enolase), previously recognized as immunodominant antigens during acute giardiasis. Release was stimulated by cell–cell interactions, since only small amounts of argi-nine deiminase and enolase were detected in the medium after culturing of G. lamblia alone. The secreted G. lamblia proteins were localized to the cytoplasm and the inside of the plasma membrane of trophozoites. Furthermore, in vitro studies with recombinant arginine deiminase showed that the secreted Giardia proteins can disable host innate immune factors such as nitric oxide production. These results indicate that contact of Giardia with epithelial cells triggers metabolic enzyme release, which might facilitate effective colonization of the human small intestine.
Parasite; Cell–cell interaction; Innate immunity; Secretory product; Arginine deiminase; Enolase
The 5-nitroimidazole (NI) compound C17, with a side chain carrying a remote phenyl group in the 2-position of the imidazole ring, is at least 14-fold more active against the gut protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia than the 5-NI drug metronidazole (MTR), with a side chain in the 1-position of the imidazole ring, which is the primary drug for the treatment of giardiasis. Over 10 months, lines resistant to C17 were induced in vitro and were at least 12-fold more resistant to C17 than the parent strains. However, these lines had ID90 values (concentration of drug at which 10% of control parasite ATP levels are detected) for MTR of >200 μM, whilst lines induced to be highly resistant to MTR in vitro have maximum ID90 values around 100 μM (MTR-susceptible isolates typically have an ID90 of 5–12.8 μM). The mechanism of MTR activation in Giardia apparently involves reduction to toxic radicals by the activity of pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase (PFOR) and the electron acceptor ferredoxin. MTR-resistant Giardia have decreased PFOR activity, which is consistent with decreased activation of MTR in these lines, but C17-resistant lines have normal levels of PFOR. Therefore, an alternative mechanism of resistance in Giardia must account for these super-MTR-resistant cells.
Pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase; Tinidazole; Ronidazole; 5-Nitroimidazole; Cross-resistance
The ability of Giardia to differentiate into cysts which survive in the environment and release the virulent trophozoites after ingestion in the small intestine is essential for transmission and disease. We examined the role of enolase, a glycolytic enzyme, in Giardia differentiation. The sequence of Giardia lamblia enolase (gEno) is most similar to enolases in Homo sapiens and Leishmania mexicana, and shows the conserved catalytic and metal-binding residues. We used an integration vector to stably express wild type and mutant gEno. In trophozoites, wild type gEno localized to the cell membrane, caudal flagella and cytosol. gEno is present on the wall of mature cysts, but not in encystation secretory vesicles (ESV). The expression of gEno with a deletion of residues G167-K169, or mutations H389Q/R390S significantly inhibited excystation while mutation of residue D257K had no effect. These results suggest a role for enolase in regulation of Giardia excystation.
Giardia lamblia; enolase; excystation; differentiation
The NIMA-related serine/threonine kinases (Neks) function in the cell cycle and regulate ciliary and flagellar length. The Giardia lamblia genome encodes 198 Neks, of which 56 are predicted to be active. Here we believe that we report the first functional analysis of two Giardia lamblia Neks. The GlNek1 and GlNek2 kinase domains share 57% and 43% identity to the kinase domains of human Nek1 and Nek2, respectively. Both GlNeks are active in vitro, have dynamic relocalization during the cell cycle, and are expressed throughout the life cycle, with GlNek1 being upregulated in cysts. Over-expression of inactive GlNek1 delays disassembly of the parental attachment disk and cytokinesis, while over-expression of either wild type GlNek1 or inactive mutant GlNek2 inhibits excystation.
Giardia; Nek; Kinase; Mitosis; Excystation
Infections with the diarrheagenic protozoan pathogen Giardia lamblia are most commonly treated with metronidazole (Mz). Treatment failures with Mz occur in 10 to 20% of cases and Mz resistance develops in the laboratory, yet clinically, Mz-resistant (Mzr) G. lamblia has rarely been isolated from patients. To understand why clinical Mzr isolates are rare, we questioned whether Mz resistance entails fitness costs to the parasite. Our studies employed several newly generated and established isogenic Mzr cell lines with stable, high-level resistance to Mz and significant cross-resistance to tinidazole, nitazoxanide, and furazolidone. Oral infection of suckling mice revealed that three of five Mzr cell lines could not establish infection, while two Mzr cell lines infected pups, albeit with reduced efficiencies. Failure to colonize resulted from a diminished capacity of the parasite to attach to the intestinal mucosa in vivo and to epithelial cells and plastic surfaces in vitro. The attachment defect was related to impaired glucose metabolism, since the noninfectious Mzr lines consumed less glucose, and glucose promoted ATP-independent parasite attachment in the parental lines. Thus, resistance of Giardia to Mz is accompanied by a glucose metabolism-related attachment defect that can interfere with colonization of the host. Because glucose-metabolizing pathways are important for activation of the prodrug Mz, it follows that a fitness trade-off exists between diminished Mz activation and reduced infectivity, which may explain the observed paucity of clinical Mzr isolates of Giardia. However, the data also caution that some forms of Mz resistance do not markedly interfere with in vivo infectivity.
We quantified mRNA abundance from 10 stages in the Giardia lamblia life cycle in vitro using Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE). 163 abundant transcripts were expressed constitutively. 71 transcripts were upregulated specifically during excystation and 42 during encystation. Nonetheless, the transcriptomes of cysts and trophozoites showed major differences. SAGE detected co-expressed clusters of 284 transcripts differentially expressed in cysts and excyzoites and 287 transcripts in vegetative trophozoites and encysting cells. All clusters included known genes and pathways as well as proteins unique to Giardia or diplomonads. SAGE analysis of the Giardia life cycle identified a number of kinases, phosphatases, and DNA replication proteins involved in excystation and encystation, which could be important for examining the roles of cell signaling in giardial differentiation. Overall, these data pave the way for directed gene discovery and a better understanding of the biology of Giardia lamblia.
Giardia lamblia; transcriptome; gene expression; life cycle; SAGE
The major human intestinal pathogen Giardia lamblia is a very early branching eukaryote with a minimal genome of broad evolutionary and biological interest.
To explore early kinase evolution and regulation of Giardia biology, we cataloged the kinomes of three sequenced strains. Comparison with published kinomes and those of the excavates Trichomonas vaginalis and Leishmania major shows that Giardia's 80 core kinases constitute the smallest known core kinome of any eukaryote that can be grown in pure culture, reflecting both its early origin and secondary gene loss. Kinase losses in DNA repair, mitochondrial function, transcription, splicing, and stress response reflect this reduced genome, while the presence of other kinases helps define the kinome of the last common eukaryotic ancestor. Immunofluorescence analysis shows abundant phospho-staining in trophozoites, with phosphotyrosine abundant in the nuclei and phosphothreonine and phosphoserine in distinct cytoskeletal organelles. The Nek kinase family has been massively expanded, accounting for 198 of the 278 protein kinases in Giardia. Most Neks are catalytically inactive, have very divergent sequences and undergo extensive duplication and loss between strains. Many Neks are highly induced during development. We localized four catalytically active Neks to distinct parts of the cytoskeleton and one inactive Nek to the cytoplasm.
The reduced kinome of Giardia sheds new light on early kinase evolution, and its highly divergent sequences add to the definition of individual kinase families as well as offering specific drug targets. Giardia's massive Nek expansion may reflect its distinctive lifestyle, biphasic life cycle and complex cytoskeleton.
Attachment to the small intestinal mucosa is crucial for initiating and maintaining Giardia infection. We tested the effect of isoflavones on Giardia attachment.
We evaluated the effect of formononetin on trophozoite attachment to glass, to intestinal epithelial cell layers in vitro and to murine small intestinal explants, and on the intestinal load in mice.
We found that the isoflavone formononetin inhibits both attachment and flagellar motility within minutes and reduces the trophozoite load of Giardia in mice within 1.5 h after treatment.
The antigiardial activity of formononetin is at least partially due to its capacity to rapidly detach trophozoites.
attachment; flagella; antigiardial drugs
Infections with the diarrheagenic pathogen, Giardia lamblia, are commonly treated with the 5-nitroimidazole (5-NI) metronidazole (Mz), and yet treatment failures and Mz resistance occur. Using a panel of new 2-ethenyl and 2-ethanyl 5-NI derivatives, we found that compounds with a saturated bridge between the 5-NI core and a pendant ring system exhibited only modestly increased antigiardial activity and could not overcome Mz resistance. By contrast, olefins with a conjugated bridge connecting the core and a substituted phenyl or heterocyclic ring showed greatly increased antigiardial activity without toxicity, and several overcame Mz resistance and were more effective than Mz in a murine giardiasis model. Determination of the half-wave potential of the initial one-electron transfer by cyclic voltammetry revealed that easier redox activation correlated with greater antigiardial activity and capacity to overcome Mz resistance. These studies show the potential of combining systematic synthetic approaches with biological and electrochemical evaluations in developing improved 5-NI drugs.
To colonize the human small intestine, Giardia lamblia monitors a dynamic environment. Trophozoites attach to enterocytes that mature and die. The parasites must “decide” whether to re-attach or differentiate into cysts that survive in the environment and re-activate when ingested. Other intestinal parasites face similar challenges. Study of these parasites is limited because they do not encyst in vitro. Giardia trophozoites were persuaded to encyst in vitro by mimicking physiologic stimuli.
Cysts are dormant, yet “spring-loaded for action” to excyst upon ingestion. Giardial encystation has been studied from morphological, cell-biological, biochemical and molecular viewpoints. Yet important gaps remain and the mechanisms that co-ordinate responses to external signals remain enigmatic.
The ability of Giardia lamblia to undergo two distinct differentiations in response to physiologic stimuli is central to its pathogenesis. The giardial cytoskeleton changes drastically during encystation and excystation. However, the signal transduction pathways mediating these transformations are poorly understood. We tested the hypothesis that PP2A, a highly conserved serine/threonine protein phosphatase, might be important in giardial differentiation. We found that in vegetatively growing trophozoites, gPP2A‐C protein localizes to basal bodies/centrosomes, and to cytoskeletal structures unique to Giardia: the ventral disk, and the dense rods of the anterior, posterior‐lateral, and caudal flagella. During encystation, gPP2A‐C protein disappears from only the anterior flagellar dense rods. During excystation, gPP2A‐C localizes to the cyst wall in excysting cysts but is not found in the wall of cysts with emerging excyzoites. Transcriptome and immunoblot analyses indicated that gPP2A‐C mRNA and protein are upregulated in mature cysts and during the early stage of excystation that models passage through the host stomach. Stable expression of gPP2A‐C antisense RNA did not affect vegetative growth, but strongly inhibited the formation of encystation secretory vesicles (ESV) and water‐resistant cysts. Moreover, the few cysts that formed were highly defective in excystation.
Thus, gPP2A‐C localizes to universal cytoskeletal structures and to structures unique to Giardia. It is also important for encystation and excystation, crucial giardial transformations that entail entry into and exit from dormancy.
Giardia; encystation; excystation; PP2A; cytoskeleton; differentiation
Since the Giardia lamblia cyst wall is necessary for survival in the environment and host infection, we tested the hypothesis that it contains proteins other than the three known cyst wall proteins. Serial analysis of gene expression during growth and encystation revealed a gene, “HCNCp” (High Cysteine Non-variant Cyst protein), that was upregulated late in encystation, and that resembled the classic Giardia variable surface proteins (VSPs) that cover the trophozoite plasmalemma. HCNCp is 13.9% cysteine, with many “CxxC” tetrapeptide motifs and a transmembrane sequence near the C-terminus. However, HCNCp has multiple “CxC” motifs rarely found in VSPs, and does not localize to the trophozoite plasmalemma. Moreover, the HCNCp C-terminus differed from the canonical VSP signature. Full-length epitope-tagged HCNCp expressed under its own promoter was upregulated during encystation with highest expression in cysts, including 42 and 21 kDa C-terminal fragments. Tagged HCNCp targeted to the nuclear envelope in trophozoites, and co-localized with cyst proteins to encystation-specific secretory vesicles during encystation. HCNCp defined a novel trafficking pathway as it localized to the wall and body of cysts, while the cyst proteins were exclusively in the wall. Unlike VSPs, HCNCp is expressed in at least five giardial strains and four WB subclones expressing different VSPs. Bioinformatics identified 60 additional large high cysteine membrane proteins (HCMp) containing ≥20 CxxC/CxC's lacking the VSP-specific C-terminal CRGKA. HCMp were absent or rare in other model or parasite genomes, except for Tetrahymena thermophila with 30. MEME analysis classified the 61 gHCMp genes into nine groups with similar internal motifs. Our data suggest that HCNCp is a novel invariant cyst protein belonging to a new HCMp family that is abundant in the Giardia genome. HCNCp and the other HCMp provide a rich source for developing parasite-specific diagnostic reagents, vaccine candidates, and subjects for further research into Giardia biology.
Humans infected with Giardia exhibit intestinal hypermotility, but the underlying mechanisms and functional significance are uncertain. Here we show in murine models of giardiasis that small-intestinal hypermotility occurs in a delayed fashion relative to peak parasite burden, is dependent on adaptive immune defenses, and contributes to giardial clearance.
The protozoan pathogen Giardia is an important cause of parasitic diarrheal disease worldwide. It colonizes the lumen of the small intestine, suggesting that effective host defenses must act luminally. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies are presumed to be important for controlling Giardia infection, but direct evidence for this function is lacking. B-cell-independent effector mechanisms also exist and may be equally important for antigiardial host defense. To determine the importance of the immunoglobulin isotypes that are transported into the intestinal lumen, IgA and IgM, for antigiardial host defense, we infected gene-targeted mice lacking IgA-expressing B-cells, IgM-secreting B-cells, or all B-cells as controls with Giardia muris or Giardia lamblia GS/M-83-H7. We found that IgA-deficient mice could not eradicate either G. muris or G. lamblia infection, demonstrating that IgA is required for their clearance. Furthermore, although neither B-cell-deficient nor IgA-deficient mice could clear G. muris infections, IgA-deficient mice controlled infection significantly better than B-cell-deficient mice, suggesting the existence of B-cell-dependent but IgA-independent antigiardial defenses. In contrast, mice deficient for secreted IgM antibodies cleared G. muris infection normally, indicating that they have no unique functions in antigiardial host defense. These data, together with the finding that B-cell-deficient mice have some, albeit limited, residual capacity to control G. muris infection, show that IgA-dependent host defenses are central for eradicating Giardia spp. Moreover, B-cell-dependent but IgA-independent and B-cell-independent antigiardial host defenses exist but are less important for controlling infection.
Isolated bacteriophage lambda heads were exposed to micrococcal nuclease prior to addition of the phage tail. The deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was extracted from the heads and sheared to half-molecules whose cohesive ends were annealed to normal lambda DNA half-molecules. Melting curves of each of the cohered halves indicated that only the right-hand termini are altered by nuclease treatment.