Malaria, caused by Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum), ranks as one of the most baleful infectious diseases worldwide. New antimalarial treatments are needed to face existing or emerging drug resistant strains. Protein degradation appears to play a significant role during the asexual intraerythrocytic developmental cycle (IDC) of P. falciparum. Inhibition of the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS), a major intracellular proteolytic pathway, effectively reduces infection and parasite replication. P. falciparum and erythrocyte UPS coexist during IDC but the nature of their relationship is largely unknown. We used an approach based on Tandem Ubiquitin-Binding Entities (TUBEs) and 1D gel electrophoresis followed by mass spectrometry to identify major components of the TUBEs-associated ubiquitin proteome of both host and parasite during ring, trophozoite and schizont stages. Ring-exported protein (REX1), a P. falciparum protein located in Maurer's clefts and important for parasite nutrient import, was found to reach a maximum level of ubiquitylation in trophozoites stage. The Homo sapiens (H. sapiens) TUBEs associated ubiquitin proteome decreased during the infection, whereas the equivalent P. falciparum TUBEs-associated ubiquitin proteome counterpart increased. Major cellular processes such as DNA repair, replication, stress response, vesicular transport and catabolic events appear to be regulated by ubiquitylation along the IDC P. falciparum infection.
Biological significance: In this work we analyze for the first time the interconnection between Plasmodium and human red blood cells ubiquitin-regulated proteins in the context of infection. We identified a number of human and Plasmodium proteins whose ubiquitylation pattern changes during the asexual infective stage. We demonstrate that ubiquitylation of REX1, a P. falciparum protein located in Maurer's clefts and important for parasite nutrient import, peaks in trophozoites stage. The ubiquitin-proteome from P. falciparum infected red blood cells (iRBCs) revealed a significant host-parasite crosstalk, underlining the importance of ubiquitin-regulated proteolytic activities during the intraerythrocytic developmental cycle (IDC) of P. falciparum. Major cellular processes defined from gene ontology such as DNA repair, replication, stress response, vesicular transport and catabolic events appear to be regulated by ubiquitylation along the IDC P. falciparum infection. Given the importance of ubiquitylation in the development of infectious diseases, this work provides a number of potential drug-target candidates that should be further explored.
Keywords: Drug targets; Malaria; Mass spectrometry; Plasmodium falciparum; TUBEs; Ubiquitin.
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