Unravelling metabolism of Leishmania by metabolomics

Kovarova, Julie (2016) Unravelling metabolism of Leishmania by metabolomics. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The leishmaniases are neglected tropical diseases with an urgent need for effective drugs. Better understanding of the metabolism of the causative parasites will hopefully lead to development of new compounds targeted at critical points of the parasite’s biochemical pathways. In my work I focused on the pentose phosphate pathway of Leishmania, specifically on transketolase, sugar utilisation, and comparison between insect and mammalian infective stages of the parasites.
The pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) is the major cellular source of NADPH, an agent critical for oxidative stress defence. The PPP uses glucose, reduces the NADP+ cofactor and produces various sugar phosphates by mutual interconversions. One of the enzymes involved in this latter part is transketolase (TKT). A Leishmania mexicana cell line deleted in transketolase (Δtkt) was assessed regarding viability, sensitivity to a range of drugs, changes in metabolism, and infectivity. The Δtkt cell line had no obvious growth defect in the promastigote stage, but it was more sensitive to an oxidative stress inducing agent and most of the drugs tested. Most importantly, the Δtkt cells were not infective to mice, establishing TKT as a new potential drug target.
Metabolomic analyses revealed multiple changes as a consequence of TKT deletion. Levels of the PPP intermediates upstream of TKT increased substantially, and were diverted into additional reactions. The perturbation triggered further changes in metabolism, resembling the ‘stringent metabolic response’ of amastigotes. The Δtkt cells consumed less glucose and glycolytic intermediates were decreased indicating a decrease in flux, and metabolic end products were diminished in production. The decrease in glycolysis was possibly caused by inhibition of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase by accumulation of the PPP intermediates 6-phosphogluconate and ribose 5-phosphate. The TCA cycle was fuelled by alternative carbon sources, most likely amino acids, instead of glucose. It remains unclear why deletion of TKT is lethal for amastigotes, increased sensitivity to oxidative stress or drop in mannogen levels may contribute, but no definite conclusions can be made.
TKT localisation indicated interesting trends too. The WT enzyme is present in the cytosol and glycosomes, whereas a mutant version, truncated by ten amino acids, but retaining a C-terminal targeting sequence, localised solely to glycosomes. Surprisingly, cells expressing purely cytosolic or glycosomal TKT did not have different phenotypes regarding growth, oxidative stress sensitivity or any detected changes in metabolism. Hence, control of the subcellular localisation remains unclear as well as its function. However, these data are in agreement with the presumed semipermeable nature of the glycosome.
Further, L. mexicana promastigote cultures were grown in media with different combinations of labelled glucose and ribose and their incorporation into metabolism was followed. Glucose was the preferred carbon source, but when not available, it could be fully replaced with ribose.
I also compared metabolic profiles from splenic amastigotes, axenic amastigotes and promastigotes of L. donovani. Metabolomic analysis revealed a substantial drop in amino acids and other indications coherent with a stringent metabolic response in amastigotes. Despite some notable differences, axenic and splenic amastigotes demonstrated fairly similar results both regarding the total metabolic profile and specific metabolites of interest.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH345 Biochemistry
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Barrett, Prof. Michael P.
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr. Julie Kovarova
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7430
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2016 12:45
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2018 08:13
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/7430

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