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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED APPROACH TO THE DETECTION AND CONTROL OF FOODBORNE PARASITES AND THE IMPACT ON FOOD SAFETY

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases

Title: Evidence of tRNA cleavage in apicomplexan parasites: half-tRNAs as new potential regulatory molecules of Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium berghei

Authors
item Galizi, Roberto -
item Spano, Furio -
item Giubilei, Maria -
item Capuccini, Barbara -
item Magini, Alessandro -
item Urbanelli, Lorena -
item Ogawa, Tetsuhiro -
item Dubey, Jitender
item Spaccapelo, Roberta -
item Emiliani, Carla -
item Cristina, Manlio -

Submitted to: Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2013
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Citation: Galizi, R., Spano, F., Giubilei, M., Capuccini, B., Magini, A., Urbanelli, L., Ogawa, T., Dubey, J.P., Spaccapelo, R., Emiliani, C., Cristina, M. 2013. Evidence of tRNA cleavage in apicomplexan parasites: half-tRNAs as new potential regulatory molecules of Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium berghei. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology. 188:99-108.

Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled parasite of all warm-blooded hosts worldwide. It causes mental retardation and loss of vision in children, and abortion in livestock. Cats are the main reservoir of T. gondii because they are the only hosts that can excrete the resistant stage (oocyst) of the parasite in the feces. Humans become infected by eating under cooked meat from infected animals and food and water contaminated with oocysts. There are 3 stages of Toxoplasma, tachyzoites, bradyzoites, sporozoites involved in the transmission of the parasite. In the present paper the authors discuss the nucleic acid changes in the metabolism of these 3 stages. The results will be of interest to biologists and parasitologists.

Technical Abstract: Several lines of evidence demonstrated that organisms ranging from bacteria to higher animals possess a regulated endonucleolytic cleavage pathway producing half-tRNA fragments. In the present study, we investigated the occurrence of this phenomenon in two distantly related apicomplexan parasites, Toxoplasma gondii, the agent of toxoplasmosis, and the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei. A low scale molecular characterization of the small RNA fraction of T. gondii revealed the endonucleolytic processing of 10 distinct tRNA species, with cleavage in the anticodon loop and upstream of the 3’-terminal CCA sequence yielding 5’- or 3’-end half-tRNAs. T. gondii and P. berghei exhibited variable rates of tRNA cleavage upon egress from host cells and in response to stage differentiation, amino acid starvation and heat-shock. Moreover, avirulent isolates of T. gondii and attenuated P. berghei parasites showed a higher rate of tRNA cleavage than virulent strains. Interestingly, half-tRNA production was significantly higher in the metabolically quiescent bradyzoite and sporozoite stages of T. gondii, compared to the fast-growing tachyzoite. Collectively, our findings shed light for the first time on the occurrence of tRNA cleavage in apicomplexan parasites and suggest a relationship between half-tRNA production and growth rate in this important group of organisms.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014