Targeting the nucleotide metabolism of the mammalian pathogen Trypanosoma brucei
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Trypanosoma brucei causes African sleeping sickness in humans and Nagana in cattle. There are no vaccines available against the disease and the current treatment is also not satisfactory because of inefficacy and numerous side effects of the used drugs.
T. brucei lacks de novo synthesis of purine nucleosides; hence it depends on the host to make its purine nucleotides. T. brucei has a high affinity adenosine kinase (TbAK), which phosphorylates adenosine, deoxyadenosine (dAdo), inosine and their analogs. RNAi experiments confirmed that TbAK is responsible for the salvage of dAdo and the toxicity of its substrate analogs. Cell growth assays with the dAdo analogs, Ara-A and F-Ara-A, suggested that TbAK could be exploited for drug development against the disease.
It has previously been shown that when T. brucei cells were cultivated in the presence of 1 mM deoxyadenosine (dAdo), they showed accumulation of dATP and depletion of ATP nucleotides. The altered nucleotide levels were toxic to the trypanosomes. However the salvage of dAdo in trypanosomes was dramatically reduced below 0.5 mM dAdo. Radiolabeled dAdo experiments showed that it (especially at low concentrations) is cleaved to adenine and converted to ATP. The recombinant methylthioadenosine phosphorylase (TbMTAP) cleaved methylthioadenosine, dAdo and adenosine into adenine and sugar-1-P in a phosphate-dependent manner. The trypanosomes became more sensitive to dAdo when TbMTAP was down-regulated in RNAi experiments. The RNAi experiments confirmed that trypanosomes avoid dATP accumulation by cleaving dAdo. The TbMTAP cleavage-resistant nucleoside analogs, FANA-A and Ara-A, successfully cured T. brucei-infected mice.
The DNA building block dTTP can be synthesized either via thymidylate synthase in the de novo pathway or via thymidine kinase (TK) by salvage synthesis. We found that T. brucei and three other parasites contain a tandem TK where the gene sequence was repeated twice or four times in a single open reading frame. The recombinant T. brucei TK, which belongs to the TK1 family, showed broad substrate specificity. The enzyme phosphorylated the pyrimidine nucleosides thymidine and deoxyuridine, as well as the purine nucleosides deoxyinosine and deoxyguanosine. When the repeated sequences of the tandem TbTK were expressed individually as domains, only domain 2 was active. However, the protein could not dimerize and had a 5-fold reduced affinity to its pyrimidine substrates but a similar turnover number as the full-length enzyme. The expressed domain 1 was inactive and sequence analysis revealed that some active residues, which are needed for substrate binding and catalysis, are absent. Generally, the TK1 family enzymes form dimers or tetramers and the quaternary structure is linked to the affinity for the substrates. The covalently linked inactive domain-1 helps domain-2 to form a pseudodimer for the efficient binding of substrates. In addition, we discovered a repetition of an 89-bp sequence in both domain 1 and domain 2, which suggests a genetic exchange between the two domains.
T. brucei is very dependent on de novo synthesis via ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) for the production of dNTPs. Even though T. brucei RNR belongs to the class Ia RNR family and contains an ATP-binding cone, it lacks inhibition by dATP. The mechanism behind the RNR activation by ATP and inactivation by dATP was a puzzle for a long time in the ~50 years of RNR research. We carried out oligomerization studies on mouse and E. coli RNRs, which belongs to the same family as T. brucei, to get an understanding of the molecular mechanism behind overall activity regulation. We found that the oligomerization status of RNRs and overall activity mechanism are interlinked with each other.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University , 2013. , 48 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1524
Trypanosoma brucei, adenosine kinase, thymidine kinase, methylthioadenosine phosphorylase, mouser ribonucleotide reductase, E. coli ribonucleotide reductase, RNR, Ara-A, F-Ara-A, dNTP, NTP, doexynucleotide metabolism, nucleosides, nucleoside kinases, allosteric regulation
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research subject biological chemistry
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-80904ISBN: 978-91-7459-737-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-80904DiVA: diva2:651918
2013-11-08, KB3A9, KBC-huset,, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Holmgren, Arne, Professor
Hofer, Anders, Docent
ProjectsTargeting the nucleotide metabolism of the mammalian pathogen Trypanosoma brucei.
FunderSwedish Research CouncilSida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
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