Iranian Journal of Parasitology 2015. 10(2):213-229.

Abnormalities of Endocytosis, Phagocytosis, and Development Process in Dictyostelium Cells That Over-Express Acanthamoeba castellanii Metacaspase Protein.
Entsar Saheb, Wendy Trzyna, Katherine Maringer, John Bush


Background:Acanthamoeba castellanii forms a resistant cyst that protects the para-site against the host’s immune response. Acanthamoeba Type-I metacaspase (Acmcp) is a caspase-like protein that has been found to be expressed during the encysta-tions. Dictyostelium discoideum is an organism closely related to Acanthamoeba useful for studying the molecular function of this protozoan caspase-like protein.
Methods:The full length of Acmcp and a mutated version of the same gene, which lacks the proline rich N-terminal region (Acmcp-dpr), were cloned into the pDneo2a-GFP vector separately. The pDneo2a-GFP-Acmcp and pDneo2a-GFP-Acmcp-dpr were electro-transfected into wild type D. discoideum cells to create cell lines that over-expressed Acmcp or Acmcp-dpr.
Results:Both cell lines that over-expressed Acmcp and Acmcp-dpr showed a sig-nificant increase in the fluid phase internalization and phagocytosis rate compared to the control cells. Additionally, the cells expressing the Acmcp-dpr mutant were unable to initiate early development and failed to aggregate or form fruiting bodies under starvation conditions, whereas Acmcp over-expressing cells showed the op-posite phenomena. Quantitative cell death analysis provided additional support for these findings.
 Conclusion:Acmcp is involved in the processes of endocytosis and phagocytosis. In addition, the proline rich region in Acmcp is important for cellular development in Dictyostelium. Given its important role in the development process, metacaspase protein is proposed as a candidate drug target against infections caused by A. castel-lanii.


Acanthamoeba; Development; Dictyostelium; Metacaspase; Phagocytosis

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