Publications by authors named "Aymen Bali"

5 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Genome Dynamics during Environmental Adaptation Reveal Strain-Specific Differences in Gene Copy Number Variation, Karyotype Instability, and Telomeric Amplification.

mBio 2018 11 6;9(6). Epub 2018 Nov 6.

Unité de Parasitologiemoléculaire et Signalisation, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

Protozoan parasites of the genus adapt to environmental change through chromosome and gene copy number variations. Only little is known about external or intrinsic factors that govern genomic adaptation. Here, by conducting longitudinal genome analyses of 10 new clinical isolates, we uncovered important differences in gene copy number among genetically highly related strains and revealed gain and loss of gene copies as potential drivers of long-term environmental adaptation in the field. In contrast, chromosome rather than gene amplification was associated with short-term environmental adaptation to culture. Karyotypic solutions were highly reproducible but unique for a given strain, suggesting that chromosome amplification is under positive selection and dependent on species- and strain-specific intrinsic factors. We revealed a progressive increase in read depth towards the chromosome ends for various isolates, which may represent a nonclassical mechanism of telomere maintenance that can preserve integrity of chromosome ends during selection for fast growth. Together our data draw a complex picture of genomic adaptation in the field and in culture, which is driven by a combination of intrinsic genetic factors that generate strain-specific phenotypic variations, which are under environmental selection and allow for fitness gain. Protozoan parasites of the genus cause severe human and veterinary diseases worldwide, termed leishmaniases. A hallmark of biology is its capacity to adapt to a variety of unpredictable fluctuations inside its human host, notably pharmacological interventions, thus, causing drug resistance. Here we investigated mechanisms of environmental adaptation using a comparative genomics approach by sequencing 10 new clinical isolates of the , , and complexes that were sampled across eight distinct geographical regions. Our data provide new evidence that parasites adapt to environmental change in the field and in culture through a combination of chromosome and gene amplification that likely causes phenotypic variation and drives parasite fitness gains in response to environmental constraints. This novel form of gene expression regulation through genomic change compensates for the absence of classical transcriptional control in these early-branching eukaryotes and opens new venues for biomarker discovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mBio.01399-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6222132PMC
November 2018

Secretory lipase from the human pathogen Leishmania major: Heterologous expression in the yeast Pichia pastoris and biochemical characterization.

Biochimie 2018 Mar 13;146:119-126. Epub 2017 Dec 13.

Laboratoire de Biochimie et de Génie Enzymatique des Lipases, Université de Sfax, ENIS Route de Soukra, Sfax, Tunisia. Electronic address:

Leishmaniasis is a parasitic reticuloendotheliosis whose pathogen is a zooflagellate belonging to the genus Leishmania transmitted by the bite of an infected phlebotome. Recently, a unique secretory lipase from the human pathogen Leishmania donovani Ldlip3 has been identified and characterized. This lipase has a high identity with a putative triacylglycerol lipase of Leishmania major (Lmlip2). In the present study, Lmlip2 was expressed in the eukaryotic heterologous expression system Pichia pastoris as tagged enzyme of 308 amino acids. Maximal protein production was reached after 2 days of fermentation. Optimal Lmlip2 lipase activity was measured using the pH stat technique at pH 8 at 26 °C using vinyl esters and triacylglycerols (true lipids) as substrates. Moreover, biochemical characterization of Lmlip2 contained in culture supernatant, illustrates that L. major secreted lipase is active and stable at low temperatures especially 26°and prefer neutral pH; concerning substrate specificityLmlip2 presents a preference for short chains lipid substrates vinyl esters such as VC2, VC3 and VC4 likewise, it is capable to hydrolyze long chain triacylglycerols like olive oil. Metal ions and surfactants tested in this study decrease Lmlip2 activity. Further studies are needed to clarify the relation between the lipase activity and the virulence. Thus, it could lead to the identification of novel targets to block cutaneous Leishmaniasis in human hosts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biochi.2017.12.002DOI Listing
March 2018

Comparative genomics of Tunisian Leishmania major isolates causing human cutaneous leishmaniasis with contrasting clinical severity.

Infect Genet Evol 2017 06 4;50:110-120. Epub 2016 Nov 4.

Institut Pasteur de Tunis, LR11IPT02, Laboratory of Transmission, Control and Immunobiology of Infections (LTCII), Tunis, Belvédère, 1002, Tunisia; Université Tunis El Manar, Tunis 1068, Tunisia.

Zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania (L.) major parasites affects urban and suburban areas in the center and south of Tunisia where the disease is endemo-epidemic. Several cases were reported in human patients for which infection due to L. major induced lesions with a broad range of severity. However, very little is known about the mechanisms underlying this diversity. Our hypothesis is that parasite genomic variability could, in addition to the host immunological background, contribute to the intra-species clinical variability observed in patients and explain the lesion size differences observed in the experimental model. Based on several epidemiological, in vivo and in vitro experiments, we focused on two clinical isolates showing contrasted severity in patients and BALB/c experimental mice model. We used DNA-seq as a high-throughput technology to facilitate the identification of genetic variants with discriminating potential between both isolates. Our results demonstrate that various levels of heterogeneity could be found between both L. major isolates in terms of chromosome or gene copy number variation (CNV), and that the intra-species divergence could surprisingly be related to single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and Insertion/Deletion (InDels) events. Interestingly, we particularly focused here on genes affected by both types of variants and correlated them with the observed gene CNV. Whether these differences are sufficient to explain the severity in patients is obviously still open to debate, but we do believe that additional layers of -omic information is needed to complement the genomic screen in order to draw a more complete map of severity determinants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2016.10.029DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5376240PMC
June 2017

Treatment with synthetic lipophilic tyrosyl ester controls Leishmania major infection by reducing parasite load in BALB/c mice.

Parasitology 2016 10 17;143(12):1615-21. Epub 2016 Jun 17.

Laboratory of Transmission, Control and Immunobiology of Infections (LTCII),Institut Pasteur de Tunis,LR11IPT02, Tunis-Belvédère, 1002,Tunisia.

Synthesized lipophilic tyrosyl ester derivatives with increasing lipophilicity were effective against Leishmania (L.) major and Leishmania infantum species in vitro. These findings prompted us to test in vivo leishmanicidal properties of these molecules and their potential effect on the modulation of immune responses. The experimental BALB/c model of cutaneous leishmaniasis was used in this study. Mice were infected with L. major parasites and treated with three in vitro active tyrosyl esters derivatives. Among these tested tyrosylcaprate (TyC) compounds, only TyC10 exhibited an in vivo anti-leishmanial activity, when injected sub-cutaneously (s.c.). TyC10 treatment of L. major-infected BALB/c mice resulted in a decrease of lesion development and parasite load. TyC10 s.c. treatment of non-infected mice induced an imbalance in interferon γ/interleukin 4 (IFN-γ/IL-4) ratio cytokines towards a Th1 response. Our results indicate that TyC10 s.c. treatment improves lesions' healing and parasite clearance and may act on the cytokine balance towards a Th1 protective response by decreasing IL-4 and increasing IFN-γ transcripts. TyC10 is worthy of further investigation to uncover its mechanism of action that could lead to consider this molecule as a potential drug candidate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0031182016001086DOI Listing
October 2016

Genetic micro-heterogeneity of Leishmania major in emerging foci of zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis in Tunisia.

Infect Genet Evol 2016 09 30;43:179-85. Epub 2016 Apr 30.

Institut Pasteur de Tunis, LR11IPT02, Laboratory of Transmission, Control and Immunobiology of Infections (LTCII), Tunis-Belvédère 1002, Tunisia; Université Tunis El Manar, Tunis 1068, Tunisia. Electronic address:

Tunisia is endemic for zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis (ZCL), a parasitic disease caused by Leishmania (L.) major. ZCL displays a wide clinical polymorphism, with severe forms present more frequently in emerging foci where naive populations are dominant. In this study, we applied the multi-locus microsatellite typing (MLMT) using ten highly informative and discriminative markers to investigate the genetic structure of 35 Tunisian Leishmania (L.) major isolates collected from patients living in five different foci of Central Tunisia (two old and three emerging foci). Phylogenetic reconstructions based on genetic distances showed that nine of the ten tested loci were homogeneous in all isolates with homozygous alleles, whereas one locus (71AT) had a 58/64-bp bi-allelic profile with an allele linked to emerging foci. Promastigote-stage parasites with the 58-bp allele tend to be more resistant to in vitro complement lysis. These results, which stress the geographical dependence of the genetic micro-heterogeneity, may improve our understanding of the ZCL epidemiology and clinical outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2016.04.032DOI Listing
September 2016