Manipulation of host cell acetylome in AIDS opportunistic infection

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Opportunistic pathogens remain a significant problem in HIV/AIDS patients, decreasing the quality of life and often posing life-threatening acute infection. Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite (phylum Apicomplexa) that has permanently infected up to 1/3 of the world's population. While generally considered benign in immune-competent individuals, Toxoplasma is notorious for recrudescing into active infection in AIDS patients. The frontline treatment of anti-folates exhibits pronounced
adverse effects and a sulfa component that allergenic patients cannot tolerate. Thus, an urgent need exists to develop safer and more effective therapies to treat AIDS-toxoplasmosis. Like other intracellular AIDS opportunistic infections, Toxoplasma radically alters its host cell environment to suit the parasite's needs. An innovative treatment strategy is to interfere with the
modifications made to the host cell, thereby making it inhospitable for parasite replication and development. Unfortunately, a deficiency in our understanding of host-pathogen interactions has stymied the development of new drugs. It has recently been found that intracellular viral and bacterial pathogens alter acetylation of host cell proteins, manipulating a major cellular signalin network in favor of parasite survival. We hypothesize that Toxoplasma also manipulates host cell acetylation and present evidence in support of this idea. We show that Toxoplasma infection induces alterations in the transcript levels of enzymes modulating protein acetylation. Furthermore, immunoblotting with anti-acetyl- lysine reveals global changes in protein acetylation levels in infected host cells. We therefore propose to determine the host cell proteins
modified by Toxoplasma infection in the context of virulence and development into its latent stage, and identify specific lysine (de)acetylation enzymes that are relevant to infection. Given the scope of lysine acetylation found in eukaryotic cells and the common theme of multiple intracellular pathogens disrupting acetylation dynamics, our findings promise to have far-reaching impact on other medically relevant infections, including HIV itself and other AIDS opportunist pathogens such as Cryptosporidium.
Effective start/end date1/15/1312/31/15


  • National Institutes of Health: $195,000.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $234,000.00


  • Medicine(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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