Proteomic Analysis of Trichomonas vaginalis Phagolysosome, Lysosomal Targeting, and Unconventional Secretion of Cysteine Peptidases

Mol Cell Proteomics. 2022 Jan;21(1):100174. doi: 10.1016/j.mcpro.2021.100174. Epub 2021 Nov 8.


The lysosome represents a central degradative compartment of eukaryote cells, yet little is known about the biogenesis and function of this organelle in parasitic protists. Whereas the mannose 6-phosphate (M6P)-dependent system is dominant for lysosomal targeting in metazoans, oligosaccharide-independent sorting has been reported in other eukaryotes. In this study, we investigated the phagolysosomal proteome of the human parasite Trichomonas vaginalis, its protein targeting and the involvement of lysosomes in hydrolase secretion. The organelles were purified using Percoll and OptiPrep gradient centrifugation and a novel purification protocol based on the phagocytosis of lactoferrin-covered magnetic nanoparticles. The analysis resulted in a lysosomal proteome of 462 proteins, which were sorted into 21 classes. Hydrolases represented the largest functional class and included proteases, lipases, phosphatases, and glycosidases. Identification of a large set of proteins involved in vesicular trafficking (80) and turnover of actin cytoskeleton rearrangement (29) indicate a dynamic phagolysosomal compartment. Several cysteine proteases such as TvCP2 were previously shown to be secreted. Our experiments showed that secretion of TvCP2 was strongly inhibited by chloroquine, which increases intralysosomal pH, thus indicating that TvCP2 secretion occurs through lysosomes rather than the classical secretory pathway. Unexpectedly, we identified divergent homologues of the M6P receptor TvMPR in the phagolysosomal proteome, although T. vaginalis lacks enzymes for M6P formation. To test whether oligosaccharides are involved in lysosomal targeting, we selected the lysosome-resident cysteine protease CLCP, which possesses two glycosylation sites. Mutation of any of the sites redirected CLCP to the secretory pathway. Similarly, the introduction of glycosylation sites to secreted β-amylase redirected this protein to lysosomes. Thus, unlike other parasitic protists, T. vaginalis seems to utilize glycosylation as a recognition marker for lysosomal hydrolases. Our findings provide the first insight into the complexity of T. vaginalis phagolysosomes, their biogenesis, and role in the unconventional secretion of cysteine peptidases.

Keywords: Trichomonas vaginalis; cysteine peptidase; glycosylation; mannose 6-phosphate receptor; phagolysosome; proteome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Cysteine Proteases* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Phagosomes / metabolism
  • Proteomics
  • Trichomonas vaginalis* / metabolism


  • Cysteine Proteases
  • Peptide Hydrolases
  • Cysteine