Investigation of Heterochromatin Protein 1 Function in the Malaria Parasite Plasmodium falciparum Using a Conditional Domain Deletion and Swapping Approach.

Published on Feb 3, 2021
· DOI :10.1128/MSPHERE.01220-20
Hai T. N. Bui1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Basel),
Armin Passecker2
Estimated H-index: 2
(University of Basel)
+ 1 AuthorsTill S. Voss25
Estimated H-index: 25
(University of Basel)
Sources
Abstract
The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum encodes a single ortholog of heterochromatin protein 1 (PfHP1) that plays a crucial role in the epigenetic regulation of various survival-related processes. PfHP1 is essential for parasite proliferation and the heritable silencing of genes linked to antigenic variation, host cell invasion, and sexual conversion. Here, we employed CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing combined with the DiCre/loxP system to investigate how the PfHP1 chromodomain (CD), hinge domain, and chromoshadow domain (CSD) contribute to overall PfHP1 function. We show that the 76 C-terminal residues are responsible for targeting PfHP1 to the nucleus. Furthermore, we reveal that each of the three functional domains of PfHP1 are required for heterochromatin formation, gene silencing, and mitotic parasite proliferation. Finally, we discovered that the hinge domain and CSD of HP1 are functionally conserved between P. falciparum and P. berghei, a related malaria parasite infecting rodents. In summary, our study provides new insights into PfHP1 function and offers a tool for further studies on epigenetic regulation and life cycle decision in malaria parasites.IMPORTANCE Malaria is caused by unicellular Plasmodium species parasites that repeatedly invade and replicate inside red blood cells. Some blood-stage parasites exit the cell cycle and differentiate into gametocytes that are essential for malaria transmission via the mosquito vector. Epigenetic control mechanisms allow the parasites to alter the expression of surface antigens and to balance the switch between parasite multiplication and gametocyte production. These processes are crucial to establish chronic infection and optimize parasite transmission. Here, we performed a mutational analysis of heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) in P. falciparum We demonstrate that all three domains of this protein are indispensable for the proper function of HP1 in parasite multiplication, heterochromatin formation, and gene silencing. Moreover, expression of chimeric proteins revealed the functional conservation of HP1 proteins between different Plasmodium species. These results provide new insight into the function and evolution of HP1 as an essential epigenetic regulator of parasite survival.
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Abstract Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by apicomplexan parasites of the genus Plasmodium. Completion of the parasite’s life cycle depends on the transmission of sexual stages, the gametocytes, from an infected human host to the mosquito vector. Sexual commitment occurs in only a small fraction of asexual blood stage parasites and is initiated by external cues. The gametocyte development protein 1 (GDV1) has been described as a key facilitator to trigger sexual commitment. GDV1 inter...
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Abstract The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum replicates inside erythrocytes in the blood of infected humans. During each replication cycle, a small proportion of parasites commits to sexual development and differentiates into gametocytes, which are essential for parasite transmission to other human hosts via the mosquito vector. Detailed molecular investigation of gametocyte biology and transmission has been hampered by difficulties in generating large numbers of these highly specialized ...
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Previous studies in model eukaryotes have demonstrated that phosphorylation of heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) is important for dynamically regulating its various functions. However, in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum both the function of HP1 phosphorylation and the identity of the protein kinases targeting HP1 are still elusive. In order to functionally analyze phosphorylation of P. falciparum HP1 (PfHP1), we first mapped PfHP1 phosphorylation sites by liquid chromatography tandem ma...
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Human to vector transmission of malaria requires that some blood-stage parasites abandon asexual growth and convert into non-replicating sexual forms called gametocytes. The initial steps of gametocytogenesis remain largely uncharacterized. Here, we study this part of the malaria life cycle in Plasmodium falciparum using PfAP2-G, the master regulator of sexual conversion, as a marker of commitment. We demonstrate the existence of PfAP2-G-positive sexually committed parasite stages that precede t...
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During malaria infection, Plasmodium spp. parasites cyclically invade red blood cells and can follow two different developmental pathways. They can either replicate asexually to sustain the infection, or differentiate into gametocytes, the sexual stage that can be taken up by mosquitoes, ultimately leading to disease transmission. Despite its importance for malaria control, the process of gametocytogenesis remains poorly understood, partially due to the difficulty of generating high numbers of s...
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Abstract Heterochromatin protein‐1 (HP1) is a key component of heterochromatin. Reminiscent of the cohesin complex which mediates sister‐chromatid cohesion, most HP1 proteins in mammalian cells are displaced from chromosome arms during mitotic entry, whereas a pool remains at the heterochromatic centromere region. The function of HP1 at mitotic centromeres remains largely elusive. Here, we show that double knockout (DKO) of HP1α and HP1γ causes defective mitosis progression and weakened centrome...
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Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites that proliferate in the bloodstream. During each replication cycle, some parasites differentiate into gametocytes, the only forms able to infect the mosquito vector and transmit malaria. Sexual commitment is triggered by activation of AP2-G, the master transcriptional regulator of gametocytogenesis. Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1)–dependent silencing of ap2-g prevents sexual conversion in proliferating parasites. In this study, we identified Plasmodium f...
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