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Title: Mechanism Of Anticancer And Antimalarial Action Of A Modulator Of Heat Shock Proteins
Authors: Ramya, T N C
Advisors: Surolia, Avadhesha
Keywords: Proteins
Anticancer Proteins
Antimalarial Action
Deoxyspergualin Mechanism
Heat Shock Proteins
Protein Synthesis
Polyamine Synthesis
Malaria Parasites
15-Deoxyspergualin (DSG)
Plasmodium falciparam
Submitted Date: Jun-2006
Abstract: This thesis entitled “Mechanism of Anticancer and Antimalarial Action of a Modulator of Heat Shock Proteins” describes the successful elucidation of the mechanism of anticancer and antimalarial action of 15-Deoxyspergualin (DSG). DSG, a relatively well known immunosuppressant and antitumor molecule has been demonstrated to kill the malaria parasite in vitro and in vivo (Midorikawa et al., 1997; Midorikawa et al., 1998). A highly polar molecule, DSG binds the carboxy terminal “EEVD” motif of heat shock proteins, Hsp70 and Hsp90, enhances the ATPase activity of Hsp70 (Nadler et al., 1992; Nadler et al., 1998), and modulates several seemingly unrelated cellular processes. DSG has also been demonstrated to inhibit protein synthesis and polyamine synthesis in cells (Kawada et al., 2002; Hibasami et al., 1991), and previously speculated to inhibit malaria parasite growth by inhibiting polyamine synthesis. The grim situation with regard to malaria infection and mortality, principally an offshoot of the emergence of chloroquine resistant strains of the causative agent of malaria - Plasmodium falciparum, calls for intense efforts towards developing efficacious antimalarial agents with few side effects. DSG, having been used already in graft rejection cases in man and demonstrated to potently inhibit malaria in mice (Midorikawa et al., 1997), offers promise in this regard. It was, therefore, of interest to solve the mystery of its mechanism of antimalarial action. Chapter 1 surveys literature related to DSG mechanism of action and presents the thesis objective. Chapter 1 also gives an overview of heat shock proteins and their role in cancer, and the biology of the malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum), the working of the principal metabolic pathways existing in it, and a description of processes related to the intriguing, relict plastid present in apicomplexans. The metabolic processes previously speculated to be targeted by DSG, and those later found to be involved in DSG mechanism of action – polyamine synthesis and transport, protein synthesis and apicoplast processes are dealt with in more detail. Though DSG has been speculated to kill the malaria parasite by inhibiting polyamine synthesis, that DSG could clear malaria infection in Plasmodium berghei infected mice did not corroborate with the observation that inhibitors of polyamine biosynthesis are incapable of inhibiting the malaria parasite in vivo probably because the parasites make do with polyamines salvaged from the host (Assaraf et al., 1984; Bitonti et al., 1987). On the other hand, DSG is known to bind heat shock proteins, and inhibit protein synthesis, and heat shock proteins are speculated to be involved in the activation of HRI (heme regulated inhibitor), a type of eIF2á kinase that phosphorylates the eukaryotic initiation factor, eIF2á in conditions of heme deficiency or other cellular stress. eIF2á phosphorylation leads to stalling of protein synthesis. It seemed likely that if HRI is activated upon sequestration of heat shock proteins by DSG, it would culminate in protein synthesis inhibition and ultimately, cell death. With the intention to investigate this line of thought, the PlasmodB database was mined for proteins essential to the existence of heme dependent protein synthesis in Plasmodium falciparum. Two Hsp70 proteins from Plasmodium falciparum, one with the carboxy terminal “EEVD” motif implicated in DSG binding, and one without, and an Hsp70 interacting protein were cloned and expressed in their recombinant form in Escherichia coli. The preliminary characterization of these heat shock proteins described in Chapter 2 revealed that they were functionally active. DSG did not inhibit either the chaperone activity of the Hsp70s or the interaction of Hsp70 with Hip, but stimulated their ATPase activity as anticipated. Chapter 3 gives a complete picture of the mechanism of protein synthesis inhibition by DSG in the standard protein synthesis system – reticulocyte lysate. The experiments carried out revealed that DSG inhibits protein synthesis precisely through the mechanism envisaged, i.e. through phosphorylation of HRI following sequestration of Hsp70. Experiments involving exogenous addition of heat shock protein to in vitro translation reactions confirmed this hypothesis. Moreover, DSG inhibited protein synthesis in cancer cells in vivo, too, and HRI knockdown cells were not affected by DSG. Interestingly, the Hsp70 levels in various cancer cell lines inversely correlated with the inhibitory activity of DSG, and modulation of Hsp70 levels through standard methods altered DSG inhibition of protein synthesis in these cells. It was thus confirmed that DSG did indeed inhibit mammalian cells through the pathway envisaged. Its previously reported antitumor property is probably through this outlined mechanism of interference with protein regulation. In the malaria parasite, too, DSG inhibited protein synthesis through eIF2 alpha phosphorylation following Hsp70 sequestration as outlined in Chapter 4. However, while the concentration of DSG required for inhibition of malaria parasite growth was in the nanomolar range, high micromolar concentrations of DSG were required to effect protein synthesis inhibition in the malaria parasite, indicating that yet another target for DSG existed in the malaria parasite. With protein synthesis no longer a candidate target of DSG, I looked into the previously implicated polyamine synthesis pathway. In the event of DSG inhibiting polyamine transport in addition to polyamine biosynthesis, it would be expected to clear malaria infection in vivo contrary to other inhibitors of polyamine biosynthesis. In Chapter 5, evidence for the polyamine synthesis pathway in the malaria parasite is provided. Experiments involving incorporation of radiolabeled precursors in the malaria parasite and in mammalian cells, however, revealed that only high micromolar concentrations of DSG inhibit polyamine synthesis. Polyamine transport was also studied in considerable detail in malaria parasite infected red blood cells. Though infected red blood cells demonstrated different kinetic parameters, implying that new polyamine transporters were employed by the parasite on the red blood cell upon infection, DSG did not potently inhibit polyamine transport, either. The mystery of the target of DSG in the malaria parasite was, however, close to solution, when the growth inhibition of the malaria parasite by DSG was studied carefully. DSG invoked “delayed death” – a phenomenon wherein death is invoked only one cycle after incubation with the inhibitor. “Delayed death” is typical of inhibitors that target apicoplast processes (Fichera and Roos, 1997). DSG did not inhibit either fatty acid synthesis or prokaryotic protein synthesis – processes that occur in the apicoplast, but effected a decrease in the amount of nucleus encoded proteins that are targeted to the apicoplast, suggesting that it inhibited the trafficking of nucleus encoded proteins to the apicoplast. Confocal microscopy of parasites transfected with GFP fusion protein confirmed these findings, and is described in Chapter 6. The thesis ends with a summary of the findings in Chapter 7. Apicoplast processes have always been considered to harbor immense potential in the development of antimalarial agents, thanks to the absence of an equivalent organelle and hence pathways, in the human host. Trafficking of nucleus encoded proteins to the apicoplast has remained unexplored however. The work done in this thesis not only serves to demystify DSG with regard to its mechanism of action, but also paves the way for further studies in this area of intracellular trafficking, which could help in the development of more efficacious antimalarial agents. It also adds a new dimension to previous work conducted with regard to the anticancer action of DSG. Appendix 1 revolves around inhibitors which target various apicoplast processes. Apicoplast processes have been conventionally linked to the intriguing but unfortunate (with respect to clinical application) “delayed death”. Results presented in this section demonstrate that not all apicoplast processes invoke “delayed death”. Inhibition of apicoplast processes such as fatty acid biosynthesis and heme synthesis evoke rapid death. Inhibitors designed to target these processes could, therefore, be highly efficacious.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2005/326
Appears in Collections:Molecular Biophysics Unit (mbu)

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