pp 552-552a November 2002 Special Issue on Suppl. 3: The Biology of Entamoeba histolytica
pp 553-557 November 2002 Articles
Entamoeba histolytica is an enteric parasite that can kill host cells via a contact-dependent mechanism. This killing involves the amoebic surface protein referred to as the Gal/GalNAc lectin. The Gal/GalNAc lectin binds galactose and N-acetylgalactosamine allowing the adherence of amoebas to host cells. Involvement of the lectin in the pathogenesis ofE. histolytica infection will be reviewed in this paper. The lectin has been shown to have very specific and substantial effects on adherence, cytotoxicity, and encystation. There is also possible involvement of the lectin in phagocytosis and caspase activation in host cells.
pp 559-565 November 2002 Articles
Entamoeba histolytica andGiardia lamblia are microaerophilic protists, which have long been considered models of ancient pre-mitochondriate eukaryotes. As transitional eukaryotes, amoebae and giardia appeared to lack organelles of higher eukaryotes and to depend upon energy metabolism appropriate for anaerobic conditions early in the history of the planet. However, our studies have shown that amoebae and giardia contain splicoeosomal introns, ras-family signal-transduction proteins, ATP-binding casettes (ABC)-family drug transporters, Golgi, and a mitochondrion-derived organelle (amoebae only). These results suggest that most of the organelles of higher eukaryotes were present in the common ancestor of all eukaryotes, and so dispute the notion of transitional eukaryotic forms. In addition, phylogenetic studies suggest many of the genes encoding the fermentation enzymes of amoebae and giardia derive from prokaryotes by lateral gene transfer (LGT). While LGT has recently been shown to be an important determinant of prokaryotic evolution, this is the first time that LGT has been shown to be an important determinant of eukaryotic evolution. Further, amoebae contain cyst wall-associated lectins, which resemble, but are distinct from lectins in the walls of insects (convergent evolution). Giardia have a novel microtubule-associated structure which tethers together pairs of nuclei during cell division. It appears then that amoebae and giardia tell us less about the origins of eukaryotes and more about the origins of eukaryotic diversity.
pp 567-572 November 2002 Articles
Fidelity in transmission of genetic characters is ensured by the faithful duplication of the genome, followed by equal segregation of the genetic material in the progeny. Thus, alternation of DNA duplication (S-phase) and chromosome segregation during the M-phase are hallmarks of most well studied eukaryotes. Several rounds of genome reduplication before chromosome segregation upsets this cycle and leads to polyploidy. Polyploidy is often witnessed in cells prior to differentiation, in embryonic cells or in diseases such as cancer. Studies on the protozoan parasite,Entamoeba histolytica suggest that in its proliferative phase, this organism may accumulate polyploid cells. It has also been shown that although this organism contains sequence homologs of genes which are known to control the cell cycle of most eukaryotes, these genes may be structurally altered and their equivalent function yet to be demonstrated in amoeba. The available information suggests that surveillance mechanisms or ‘checkpoints’ which are known to regulate the eukaryotic cell cycle may be absent or altered inE. histolytica.
pp 573-578 November 2002 Articles
For much of the last hundred years most cases of amoebiasis have been diagnosed by light microscopy. Only relatively recently have we become aware that this technique is usually incapable of distinguishing between two species-Entamoeba histolytica andE. dispar-only the first of which is a pathogen. The implications of this for patient management and, even more, for the validity of epidemiological surveys, are only slowly being addressed. What is clear is that methods are urgently required to distinguish between infections with these two species and this review attempts to summarise some of those, which have been developed to meet this need.
pp 579-587 November 2002 Articles
We have previously demonstrated that inhibition of expression of amoebapore A (AP-A) by antisense RNA caused a marked decrease in the virulence of the parasite. A four-fold over-expression of AP-A was obtained with plasmid (pA7) which has theap-a gene under the control of geneEhgLE-3-RP-L21. The virulence of the transfected trophozoites, however, was also decreased. Excess of AP-A protein was found in the cytosol and a significant amount was released into the surrounding media. Transfection of the parasite with a plasmid (psAP-1) in which theap-a gene was introduced with its own regulatory sequences, caused a total suppression of the transcription and translation of both the genomic and episomalap-a genes. The silenced transfectant was not virulent at all. These results demonstrate that important factors need to be expressed at the correct cellular location and that the parasite has additional internal control mechanisms such as transcriptional gene silencing which can prevent excess amounts of gene expression.
pp 589-593 November 2002 Articles
Free-living and enteric amoebae have similar two-stage life cycles, and both organisms depend on being able to monitor environmental conditions to determine whether to continue multiplying as trophozoites, or to differentiate into dormant or transmissible cysts. Conditions that support high trophozoite densities might also be expected to select for mechanisms of information exchange between these cells. We recently determined that trophozoites of at least one species ofEntamoeba release and respond to catecholamine compounds during differentiation from the trophozoite stage into the cyst stage. It turns out that this is not an entirely novel finding, as a number of previous studies have demonstrated parts of this story in free-living or enteric amoebae. We briefly review here major points of the previous studies and describe some of our recent results that have extended them.
pp 595-601 November 2002 Articles
Entamoeba histolytica, a protozoan parasite, causes diarrhea and liver abscesses resulting in 50 million cases of infection worldwide annually. Elucidation of parasite virulence determinants has recently been investigated using genetic approaches. We have undertaken a genomics approach to identify novel virulence determinants in the parasite. A DNA microarray ofE. histolytica is being developed based on sequenced genomic clones from the genome sequencing efforts of The Institute of Genomic Research (TIGR) and the Sanger Center. Hybridization of the slides with samples labelled differentially using fluorescent dyes allows the characterization of transcriptional profiles of genes under the biological conditions tested. Additionally, a genome-wide comparison ofE. histolytica andE. dispar can be undertaken. The development of anE. histolytica microarray will be outlined and its uses in identifying novel virulence determinants and characterizing amoebic biology will be discussed.
pp 603-607 November 2002 Articles
Genetic diversity withinEntamoeba histolytica led to the re-description of the species 10 years ago. However, more recent investigation has revealed significant diversity within the re-defined species. Both protein-coding and non-coding sequences show variability, but the common feature in all cases is the presence of short tandem repeats of varying length and sequence. The ability to identify strains ofE. histolytica may lead to insights into the population structure and epidemiology of the organism.
pp 609-614 November 2002 Articles
Molecules expressed by the pathogenic ameobaEntamoeba histolytica but weakly expressed or absent from the non-pathogenic ameobaEntamoeba dispar could be used by intestinal epithelial cells to discriminate between the two species and to initiate an appropriate inflammatory response. Among the possible molecules involved in this identification are the Gal/GalNac lectin and the lipophosphoglycan. Once the inflammatory response is initiated,E. histolytica trophozoites have to protect themselves against reactive nitrogen intermediates produced by intestinal epithelial cells, oxygen intermediates, and cytotoxic molecules released by activated neutrophils. By screening theE. histolytica genome, we have identified proteins that may play a role in the defence strategy of the parasite. One of these proteins, a serine proteinase inhibitor, inhibits human neutrophil cathepsin G, a key component of the host defence.
pp 615-618 November 2002 Articles
Entamoeba histolytica killing of host cells is contact dependent and mediated by a Gal/GalNAc lectin. Upon contact with amoeba a rapid and extensive dephosphorylation of tyrosine phosphorylated host cell proteins is observed. This effect is mediated by the Gal/GalNAc lectin. However, it requires intact cells, as purified lectin failed to induce dephosphorylation in Jurkat cells. The nonpathogenic, but morphologically identical amoeba,Entamoeba moshkovskii also did not induce dephosphorylation in target cells. Treatment of Jurkat cells with phosphotyrosine phosphatase inhibitors has shown that a host phosphatase is responsible for dephosphorylation. However, it was found that the CD45 phosphotase was not necessary for dephosphorylation of host cell proteins.
pp 619-627 November 2002 Articles
Entamoeba dispar andEntamoeba histolytica are now recognized as two distinct species-the former being nonpathogenic to humans. We had earlier studied the organization of ribosomal RNA genes inE. histolytica. Here we report the analysis of ribosomal RNA genes inE. dispar. The rRNA genes ofE. dispar, like their counterpart inE. histolytica are located on a circular rDNA molecule. From restriction map analysis, the size ofE. dispar rDNA circle was estimated to be 24·4 kb. The size was also confirmed by linearizing the circle withBsaHI, and by limited DNAseI digestion. The restriction map of theE. dispar rDNA circle showed close similarity to EhR1, the rDNA circle ofE. histolytica strain HM-1:IMSS which has two rDNA units per circle. The various families of short tandem repeats found in the upstream and downstream intergenic spacers (IGS) of EhR1 were also present inE. dispar. Partial sequencing of the cloned fragments ofE. dispar rDNA and comparison with EhR1 revealed only 2·6% to 3·8% sequence divergence in the IGS. The region Tr and the adjoiningPvuI repeats in the IGS of EhR1, which are missing in thoseE. histolytica strains that have one rDNA unit per circle, were present in theE. dispar rDNA circle. Such close similarity in the overall organization and sequence of the IGS of rDNAs of two different species is uncommon. In fact the spacer sequences were only slightly more divergent than the 18S rRNA gene sequence which differs by 1·6% in the two species. The most divergent sequence betweenE. histolytica andE. dispar was the internal transcribed spacer, ITS2. Therefore, it was concluded that probes derived from the ITS1 and ITS 2 sequences would be more reliable and reproducible than probes from the IGS regions used earlier for identifying these species.
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