Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, MI-PHD (2014)
The obligate intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii is able to infect a broad range of hosts and cell types due, in part, to the diverse arsenal of effectors it secretes into the host cell. Here, using genetic crosses between Type II and Type III Toxoplasma strains and QTL mapping of the changes they induce in macrophage gene expression, we identify a novel dense granule protein, GRA25. Encoded on chromosome IX, GRA25 is a phosphoprotein that is secreted outside of the parasites and is found within the parasitophorous vacuole. In vitro experiments with a Type II Δgra25 strain showed that macrophages infected with this strain secrete lower levels of CCL2 and CXCL1 compared to those infected with the wild type or complemented control parasites. In vivo experiments showed that mice infected with a Type II Δgra25 strain are able to survive an otherwise lethal dose of Toxoplasma tachyzoites, and complementation of the mutant with an ectopic copy of GRA25 largely rescues this phenotype. Interestingly, the Type II and Type III versions of GRA25 vary in endogenous expression; however, both are able to promote parasite expansion in vivo when expressed in a Type II Δgra25 strain. These data establish GRA25 as a novel virulence factor and immune modulator.
View details for DOI 10.1128/IAI.01339-13
View details for PubMedID 24711568
Toxoplasma gondii infection has previously been described to cause dramatic changes in the host transcriptome by manipulating key regulators, including STATs, NF-κB, and microRNAs. Here, we report that Toxoplasma tachyzoites also mediate rapid and sustained induction of another pivotal regulator of host cell transcription, c-Myc. This induction is seen in cells infected with all three canonical types of Toxoplasma but not the closely related apicomplexan parasite Neospora caninum. Coinfection of cells with both Toxoplasma and Neospora still results in an increase in the level of host c-Myc, showing that c-Myc is actively upregulated by Toxoplasma infection (rather than repressed by Neospora). We further demonstrate that this upregulation may be mediated through c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK) and is unlikely to be a nonspecific host response, as heat-killed Toxoplasma parasites do not induce this increase and neither do nonviable parasites inside the host cell. Finally, we show that the induced c-Myc is active and that transcripts dependent on its function are upregulated, as predicted. Hence, c-Myc represents an additional way in which Toxoplasma tachyzoites have evolved to specifically alter host cell functions during intracellular growth.
View details for DOI 10.1128/EC.00316-13
View details for PubMedID 24532536
The DinB (PolIV) protein of Escherichia coli participates in several cellular functions. We investigated a dinB mutation, Δ(dinB-yafN)883(::kan) [referred to as ΔdinB883], which strongly sensitized E. coli cells to both UV- and X-radiation killing. Earlier reports indicated dinB mutations had no obvious effect on UV radiation sensitivity which we confirmed by showing that normal UV radiation sensitivity is conferred by the ΔdinB749 allele. Compared to a wild-type strain, the ΔdinB883 mutant was most sensitive (160-fold) in early to mid-logarithmic growth phase and much less sensitive (twofold) in late log or stationary phases, thus showing a growth phase-dependence for UV radiation sensitivity. This sensitizing effect of ΔdinB883 is assumed to be completely dependent upon the presence of UmuDC protein; since the ΔdinB883 mutation did not sensitize the ΔumuDC strain to UV radiation killing throughout log phase and early stationary phase growth. The DNA damage checkpoint activity of UmuDC was clearly affected by ΔdinB883 as shown by testing a umuC104 ΔdinB883 double-mutant. The sensitivities of the ΔumuDC strain and the ΔdinB883 ΔumuDC double-mutant strain were significantly greater than for the ΔdinB883 strain, suggesting that the ΔdinB883 allele only partially suppresses UmuDC activity. The ΔdinB883 mutation partially sensitized (fivefold) uvrA and uvrB strains to UV radiation, but did not sensitize a ΔrecA strain. A comparison of the DNA sequences of the ΔdinB883 allele with the sequences of the Δ(dinB-yafN)882(::kan) and ΔdinB749 alleles, which do not sensitize cells to UV radiation, revealed ΔdinB883 is likely a "gain-of-function" mutation. The ΔdinB883 allele encodes the first 54 amino acids of wild-type DinB followed by 29 predicted residues resulting from the continuation of the dinB reading frame into an adjacent insertion fragment. The resulting polypeptide is proposed to interfere directly or indirectly with UmuDC function(s) involved in protecting cells against the lethal effects of radiation.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2014.03.003
View details for PubMedID 24657250