American Society for Microbiology
Entamoeba histolytica is a protozoan parasite that causes amoebic dysentery and liver abscess. E. histolytica relies on motility, phagocytosis, host cell adhesion, and proteolysis of extracellular matrix for virulence. In eukaryotic cells, these processes are mediated in part by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling. Thus, PI3K may be critical for virulence. We utilized a functional genomics approach to identify genes whose products may operate in the PI3K pathway in E. histolytica. We treated a population of trophozoites that were overexpressing genes from a cDNA library with a near-lethal dose of the PI3K inhibitor wortmannin. This screen was based on the rationale that survivors would be overexpressing gene products that directly or indirectly function in the PI3K pathway. We sequenced the overexpressed genes in survivors and identified a cDNA encoding a Rap GTPase, a protein previously shown to participate in the PI3K pathway. This supports the validity of our approach. Genes encoding a coactosin-like protein, EhCoactosin, and a serine-rich E. histolytica protein (SREHP) were also identified. Cells overexpressing EhCoactosin or SREHP were also less sensitive to a second PI3K inhibitor, LY294002. This corroborates the link between these proteins and PI3K. Finally, a mutant cell line with an increased level of phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-triphosphate, the product of PI3K activity, exhibited increased expression of SREHP and EhCoactosin. This further supports the functional connection between these proteins and PI3K in E. histolytica. To our knowledge, this is the first forward-genetics screen adapted to reveal genes participating in a signal transduction pathway in this pathogen.
Please use publisher's recommended citation: http://ec.asm.org/content/13/3/401.long