Novel approaches to kill toxoplasma gondii by exploiting the uncontrolled uptake of unsaturated fatty acids and vulnerability to lipid storage inhibition of the parasite

Sabrina J. Nolan, Julia Debra Romano, John T. Kline, Isabelle Coppens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Toxoplasma gondii, an obligate intracellular parasite replicating in mammalian cells within a parasitophorous vacuole (PV), is an avid scavenger of lipids retrieved from the host cell. Following lipid uptake, this parasite stores excess lipids in lipid droplets (LD). Here, we examined the lipid storage capacities of Toxoplasma upon supplementation of the culture medium with various fatty acids at physiological concentrations. Supplemental unsaturated fatty acids (oleate [OA], palmitoleate, linoleate) accumulate in large LD and impair parasite replication, whereas saturated fatty acids (palmitate, stearate) neither stimulate LD formation nor impact growth. Examination of parasite growth defects with 0.4 mM OA revealed massive lipid deposits outside LD, indicating enzymatic inadequacies for storing neutral lipids in LD in response to the copious salvage of OA. Toxoplasma exposure to 0.5 mM OA led to irreversible growth arrest and lipid-induced damage, confirming a major disconnect between fatty acid uptake and the parasite's cellular lipid requirements. The importance of neutral lipid synthesis and storage to avoid lipotoxicity was further highlighted by the selective vulnerability of Toxoplasma, both the proliferative and the encysted forms, to subtoxic concentrations of the acyl coenzyme A:diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1) pharmacological inhibitor T863. T863-treated parasites did not form LD but instead built up large membranous structures within the cytoplasm, which suggests improper channeling and management of the excess lipid. Dual addition of OA and T863 to infected cells intensified the deterioration of the parasite. Overall, our data pinpoint Toxoplasma DGAT as a promising drug target for the treatment of toxoplasmosis that would not incur the risk of toxicity for mammalian cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00347
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Volume62
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Keywords

  • DGAT inhibition
  • Fatty acid uptake and storage
  • Lipid droplet
  • T863 parasiticidal activity
  • Toxoplasma gondii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Novel approaches to kill toxoplasma gondii by exploiting the uncontrolled uptake of unsaturated fatty acids and vulnerability to lipid storage inhibition of the parasite'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this