Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Two new studies reveal some of the inner working of toxoplasmosis!

Toxoplasmosis is an absolutely fascinating and terrifying disease. It has been a big topic in the popular science realm -- due to how weird it is.  Here is an NPR article on the potential link between this disease and mental illness. Most interesting to the mainstream media has been odd (and controversial?) links between subtle human behaviors of people infected with this weird thing. Like this from Scientific American, which isn't the weirdest one I've heard about.

Toxoplasma gondii (Tg) is kind of a mystery, though. It has a 69Mb genome and a ridiculously complex life cycle....

Two new studies took completely different approaches to try and figure out how this weird little thing can do all the stuff that it can.

I took the picture at the top of this post from the newest one in that is in this month's Elsevier JOP that you can find here.

This is an interesting paper for a couple of reasons. The first being that -- Tg can infect just about any cell with a nucleus. So...if you've got a bunch of gerbils around, might as well see what it does to that one, right? Maybe seeing the effects that infection has on different organisms will help reveal some new information?

Very minor note -- the authors state a 5600 TripleTOF was used for this work and mention features in terms that the 5600 has. The resolution settings and the fact the output was .RAW indicates this was, however, performed on a Q Exactive. Just a little mixup in the methods section that I could have figured out a little quicker if the data had been publicly posted.

They find a fascinating number of differential proteins. Apparently Tg goes crazy in a gerbil brain with big changes in proteins linked to oxidative stress response and others! They check these with RT-PCR and Western and it looks pretty convincing -- and all sorts of terrifying!

The second study -- nuts, I'm running out of time this morning -- is this one in MCP.

I don't really have time to do this one justice at all. In a nutshell, they track a methylation on Arginine that contributes to how this thing regulates itself! They make some mutations to verify that this is involved. Interestingly, there appears to be a lot of crosstalk between this methylation event and phosphorylation. The methylations were found in a previous study with phospho-enrichment.

The downstream analysis is really convincing that this is a major component of parasite control. You don't have to do too much classic genetics + high resolution proteomics to convince me your on the right track!  If you are interested in this (or related) parasites, this one is a gold mine!  What else controls itself with this mechanism!?!?

 These were both really interesting reads inspired by my fear of anything making alterations to my poor glitchy brain and by the tiny natural reservoir of the parasite I found lost and dehydrated in the woods this weekend....

...after thorough review Isaiah Tomcat appears to have been accepted into the pack...with the final requirement being that he had to promise that he wouldn't infect anyone with brain parasites!

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