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Functional study of MICU1 and MICU2 proteins in calcium signaling of "Trypanosoma cruzi"

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Mayara Santos Bertolini
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Master's Dissertation
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Trypanosoma cruzi is the etiologic agent of Chagas disease, a disorder affecting thousands of people, for which an effective treatment is not available for the chronic phase. Calcium signaling is important for host cell invasion, differentiation, osmoregulation, cell death and flagellar function in trypanosomatids. The influx of calcium into the mitochondria, which is important for intracellular calcium homeostasis, occurs through a mitochondrial calcium uniporter complex (MCUC) and this complex consists of several components, including two regulatory proteins named mitochondrial calcium uptake 1 and 2 (MICU1 and MICU2). In mammalian cells, these proteins are located in the mitochondrial intermembrane space and play a role in sensing cytosolic calcium levels and regulating the MCU opening. Although several MCUC components have been identified in trypanosomes, the mechanism by which it is regulated is still unknown. In this work, we aimed at studying the role of MICU1 and MICU2 in the mitochondrial calcium uptake of T. cruzi. The predicted TcMICU1 and TcMICU2 proteins displayed a mitochondrial targeting signal and EF-hands domains that could be sensitive to changes in cytosolic calcium. We obtained TcMICU1 (MICU1-KO) and TcMICU2 (MICU2-KO) knockout cell lines using the CRISPR/Cas9 system by co-transfecting T. cruzi epimastigotes with the Cas9/pTREX-n vector (containing a specific sgRNA) and a DNA donor cassette with a blasticidin resistance marker to induce the DNA double-strand break repair by homologous recombination. Additionally, we generated a cell line of T. cruzi epimastigotes overexpressing TcMICU2 tagged with 2xHA (MICU2-OE) using pTREX-n vector. Such molecular constructs were used to analyze the mutant phenotypes and indicate the functions of these proteins. Our results show that MICU1-KO and MICU2-KO have a significant decrease in the capacity to take up calcium, showing a different regulation when we compared to what has already been described previously in mammals. In the absence of these proteins there is a decrease in the growth rate and respiration rates of epimastigotes, showing how important these two proteins are to this stage of T. cruzi. In addition, MICU1-KO epimastigotes are able to differentiate to metacyclic trypomastigotes in a greater proportion than the control cells while the metacyclogenesis capacity was reduced in MICU2-KO cells. Using the MICU2-OE cell line we demonstrated by immunofluorescence microscopy the mitochondrial localization of MICU2 and that its overexpression does not alter the capacity to take up calcium, besides that it does not affect the mitochondrial membrane potential and parasite growth. We can conclude that the TcMICU1 and TcMICU2 proteins are essential for the regulation of mitochondrial calcium uptake by MCU in T. cruzi. Likewise, the results suggest that both proteins play an important role in the growth and differentiation of epimastigotes (AU)

FAPESP's process: 15/25709-8 - Functional study of MICU1 and MICU2 proteins involved in Trypanosoma Cruzi calcium signaling
Grantee:Mayara Santos Bertolini
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Master