Evidence from bioinformatics, expression and inhibition studies of phosphoinositide-3 kinase signalling in Giardia intestinalis
van der Giezen, M
© Cox et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2006. This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
BACKGROUND: Giardia intestinalis is a parasitic protozoan and major cause of diarrhoeal disease. Disease transmission is dependent on the ability of the parasite to differentiate back and forth between an intestine-colonising trophozoite and an environmentally-resistant infective cyst. Our current understanding of the intracellular signalling mechanisms that regulate parasite replication and differentiation is limited, yet such information could suggest new methods of disease control. Phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) signalling pathways have a central involvement in many vital eukaryotic processes, such as regulation of cell growth, intracellular membrane trafficking and cell motility. Here we present evidence for the existence of functional PI3K intracellular signalling pathways in G. intestinalis. RESULTS: We have identified and characterised two genes, Gipi3k1 and Gipi3k2, which encode putative PI3Ks. Both genes are expressed in trophozoites and encysting cells, suggesting a possible role of GiPI3K1 and GiPI3K2 in regulating giardial growth and differentiation. Extensive nucleotide and amino acid sequence characterisation predicts that both encoded PI3Ks are functional as indicated by the presence of highly conserved structural domains and essential catalytic residues. The inhibitory effect of the PI3K inhibitor LY294002 on trophozoite proliferation also supports their functionality. Phylogenetic analysis supports the identity of GiPI3K1 as a Class I isoform and GiPI3K2 as a Class III isoform. In addition, giardial genes encoding putative homologues of phosphoinositide-metabolising enzymes such as PTEN, MTM, PIPkin and PI 5-phosphatase as well as downstream effectors with phosphoinositide-binding domains have been identified, placing GiPI3K1 and GiPI3K2 in a broader signalling context. Compared with twenty-six PI3Ks from other organisms, GiPI3K1 and GiPI3K2 are unique in that they contain large insertions within their highly conserved kinase domains. The function of these insertions is unknown; however we show here that they are not intron-derived and would probably not hinder substrate binding. These insertions may represent a plausible drug target. CONCLUSION: G. intestinalis encodes and expresses two putative PI3Ks, at least one of which appears to be required during normal parasite proliferation. The identification of Class I and Class III but not Class II isoforms suggests that both extracellularly-initiated signalling (Class I-regulated) and intracellular vesicle trafficking (Class III-regulated) might be controlled by PI3Ks in G. intestinalis. The presence of genes encoding putative homologues of phosphoinositide-metabolising enzymes and downstream effectors in the G. intestinalis genome further suggests that the overall architecture of PI3K signalling may be comparable with pathways present in other better-studied organisms.
This work was supported in part by a RHUL Thomas Holloway Studentship to S.C., a RHUL Research Strategy Fund grant to M.R.C. and by a Wellcome Trust grant (059845) to J.T.
This is the final version of the article. Available from BioMed Central via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 6, article 45
Place of publication