A fungal metabolite, FR235222, specifically inhibits a histone deacetylase of the apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii and TgHDAC3 has emerged as a key factor regulating developmental stage transition in this species. Here, we exploited FR235222 to ask if changes in histone acetylation regulate developmental stage transition of Theileria annulata, another apicomplexan species. We found that FR235222 treatment of T. annulata-infected transformed leukocytes induced a proliferation arrest. The blockade in proliferation was due to drug-induced conversion of intracellular schizonts to merozoites that lack the ability to maintain host leukocyte cell division. Induction of merogony by FR235222 leads to an increase in expression of merozoite-marker (rhoptry) proteins. RNA-seq of FR235222-treated T. annulata-infected B cells identified deregulated expression of 468 parasite genes including a number encoding parasite ApiAP2 transcription factors. Thus, similar to T. gondii, FR235222 inhibits T. annulata HDAC (TaHDAC1) activity and places parasite histone acetylation as a major regulatory event of the transition from schizonts to merozoites.
© 2022. The Author(s).