Publications by authors named "Natalia F Martins"

16 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

A Chemosensory GPCR as a Potential Target to Control the Root-Knot Nematode Parasitism in Plants.

Molecules 2019 Oct 22;24(20). Epub 2019 Oct 22.

EMBRAPA Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, Brasilia 70770-917, DF, Brazil.

Root-knot nematodes (RKN), from the genus, have a worldwide distribution and cause severe economic damage to many life-sustaining crops. Because of their lack of specificity and danger to the environment, most chemical nematicides have been banned from use. Thus, there is a great need for new and safe compounds to control RKN. Such research involves identifying beforehand the nematode proteins essential to the invasion. Since G protein-coupled receptors GPCRs are the target of a large number of drugs, we have focused our research on the identification of putative nematode GPCRs such as those capable of controlling the movement of the parasite towards (or within) its host. A datamining procedure applied to the genome of allowed us to identify a GPCR, belonging to the neuropeptide GPCR family that can serve as a target to carry out a virtual screening campaign. We reconstructed a 3D model of this receptor by homology modeling and validated it through extensive molecular dynamics simulations. This model was used for large scale molecular dockings which produced a filtered limited set of putative antagonists for this GPCR. Preliminary experiments using these selected molecules allowed the identification of an active compound, namely C260-2124, from the ChemDiv provider, which can serve as a starting point for further investigations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/molecules24203798DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6832152PMC
October 2019

Rice susceptibility to root-knot nematodes is enhanced by the Meloidogyne incognita MSP18 effector gene.

Planta 2019 Oct 19;250(4):1215-1227. Epub 2019 Jun 19.

IRD, Cirad, Univ Montpellier, IPME, 911, Avenue Agropolis, 34394, Montpellier Cedex 5, France.

Main Conclusion: This study revealed novel insights into the function of MSP18 effector during root-knot nematode parasitism in rice roots. MSP18 may modulate host immunity and enhance plant susceptibility to Meloidogyne spp. Rice (Oryza sativa) production is seriously impacted by root-knot nematodes (RKN), including Meloidogyne graminicola, Meloidogyne incognita, and Meloidogyne javanica, in upland and irrigated culture systems. Successful plant infection by RKN is likely achieved by releasing into the host cells some effector proteins to suppress the activation of immune responses. Here, we conducted a series of functional analyses to assess the role of the Meloidogyne-secreted protein (MSP) 18 from M. incognita (Mi-MSP18) during rice infection by RKN. Developmental expression profiles of M. javanica and M. graminicola showed that the MSP18 gene is up-regulated throughout nematode parasitic stages in rice. Reproduction of M. javanica and M. graminicola is enhanced in rice plants overexpressing Mi-MSP18, indicating that the Mi-MSP18 protein facilitates RKN parasitism. Transient expression assays in onion cells suggested that Mi-MSP18 is localized to the cytoplasm of the host cells. In tobacco, Mi-MSP18 suppressed the cell death induced by the INF1 elicitin, suggesting that Mi-MSP18 can interfere with the plant defense pathways. The data obtained in this study highlight Mi-MSP18 as a novel RKN effector able to enhance plant susceptibility and modulate host immunity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00425-019-03205-3DOI Listing
October 2019

Antimicrobial properties of two novel peptides derived from Theobroma cacao osmotin.

Peptides 2016 05 17;79:75-82. Epub 2016 Mar 17.

Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, Brasília, DF, Brazil. Electronic address:

The osmotin proteins of several plants display antifungal activity, which can play an important role in plant defense against diseases. Thus, this protein can be useful as a source for biotechnological strategies aiming to combat fungal diseases. In this work, we analyzed the antifungal activity of a cacao osmotin-like protein (TcOsm1) and of two osmotin-derived synthetic peptides with antimicrobial features, differing by five amino acids residues at the N-terminus. Antimicrobial tests showed that TcOsm1 expressed in Escherichia coli inhibits the growth of Moniliophthora perniciosa mycelium and Pichia pastoris X-33 in vitro. The TcOsm1-derived peptides, named Osm-pepA (H-RRLDRGGVWNLNVNPGTTGARVWARTK-NH2), located at R23-K49, and Osm-pepB (H-GGVWNLNVNPGTTGARVWARTK-NH2), located at G28-K49, inhibited growth of yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae S288C and Pichia pastoris X-33) and spore germination of the phytopathogenic fungi Fusarium f. sp. glycines and Colletotrichum gossypi. Osm-pepA was more efficient than Osm-pepB for S. cerevisiae (MIC=40μM and MIC=127μM, respectively), as well as for P. pastoris (MIC=20μM and MIC=127μM, respectively). Furthermore, the peptides presented a biphasic performance, promoting S. cerevisiae growth in doses around 5μM and inhibiting it at higher doses. The structural model for these peptides showed that the five amino acids residues, RRLDR at Osm-pepA N-terminus, significantly affect the tertiary structure, indicating that this structure is important for the peptide antimicrobial potency. This is the first report of development of antimicrobial peptides from T. cacao. Taken together, the results indicate that the cacao osmotin and its derived peptides, herein studied, are good candidates for developing biotechnological tools aiming to control phytopathogenic fungi.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.peptides.2016.03.006DOI Listing
May 2016

Transcriptome-Based Identification of Highly Similar Odorant-Binding Proteins among Neotropical Stink Bugs and Their Egg Parasitoid.

PLoS One 2015 10;10(7):e0132286. Epub 2015 Jul 10.

Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, Parque Estação Biológica, W5 Norte, P.O. Box 02372, Brasília, DF, 70770-917, Brazil.

Olfaction plays a fundamental role in insect survival through resource location and intra and interspecific communications. We used RNA-Seq to analyze transcriptomes for odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) from major stink bug pest species in Brazil, Euschistus heros, Chinavia ubica, and Dichelops melacanthus, and from their egg parasitoid, Telenomus podisi. We identified 23 OBPs in E. heros, 25 OBPs in C. ubica, 9 OBPs in D. melacanthus, and 7 OBPs in T. podisi. The deduced amino acid sequences of the full-length OBPs had low intraspecific similarity, but very high similarity between two pairs of OBPs from E. heros and C. ubica (76.4 and 84.0%) and between two pairs of OBPs from the parasitoid and its preferred host E. heros (82.4 and 88.5%), confirmed by a high similarity of their predicted tertiary structures. The similar pairs of OBPs from E. heros and C. ubica may suggest that they have derived from a common ancestor, and retain the same biological function to bind a ligand perceived or produced in both species. The T. podisi OBPs similar to E. heros were not orthologous to any known hymenopteran OBPs, and may have evolved independently and converged to the host OBPs, providing a possible basis for the host location of T. podisi using E. heros semiochemical cues.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0132286PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4498631PMC
April 2016

Analysis of the leaf transcriptome of Musa acuminata during interaction with Mycosphaerella musicola: gene assembly, annotation and marker development.

BMC Genomics 2013 Feb 5;14:78. Epub 2013 Feb 5.

Universidade de Brasília, Campus Universitário Darcy Ribeiro, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Departamento de Biologia Celular, CEP 70,910-900, Brasília, D,F, Brazil.

Background: Although banana (Musa sp.) is an important edible crop, contributing towards poverty alleviation and food security, limited transcriptome datasets are available for use in accelerated molecular-based breeding in this genus. 454 GS-FLX Titanium technology was employed to determine the sequence of gene transcripts in genotypes of Musa acuminata ssp. burmannicoides Calcutta 4 and M. acuminata subgroup Cavendish cv. Grande Naine, contrasting in resistance to the fungal pathogen Mycosphaerella musicola, causal organism of Sigatoka leaf spot disease. To enrich for transcripts under biotic stress responses, full length-enriched cDNA libraries were prepared from whole plant leaf materials, both uninfected and artificially challenged with pathogen conidiospores.

Results: The study generated 846,762 high quality sequence reads, with an average length of 334 bp and totalling 283 Mbp. De novo assembly generated 36,384 and 35,269 unigene sequences for M. acuminata Calcutta 4 and Cavendish Grande Naine, respectively. A total of 64.4% of the unigenes were annotated through Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) similarity analyses against public databases.Assembled sequences were functionally mapped to Gene Ontology (GO) terms, with unigene functions covering a diverse range of molecular functions, biological processes and cellular components. Genes from a number of defense-related pathways were observed in transcripts from each cDNA library. Over 99% of contig unigenes mapped to exon regions in the reference M. acuminata DH Pahang whole genome sequence. A total of 4068 genic-SSR loci were identified in Calcutta 4 and 4095 in Cavendish Grande Naine. A subset of 95 potential defense-related gene-derived simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci were validated for specific amplification and polymorphism across M. acuminata accessions. Fourteen loci were polymorphic, with alleles per polymorphic locus ranging from 3 to 8 and polymorphism information content ranging from 0.34 to 0.82.

Conclusions: A large set of unigenes were characterized in this study for both M. acuminata Calcutta 4 and Cavendish Grande Naine, increasing the number of public domain Musa ESTs. This transcriptome is an invaluable resource for furthering our understanding of biological processes elicited during biotic stresses in Musa. Gene-based markers will facilitate molecular breeding strategies, forming the basis of genetic linkage mapping and analysis of quantitative trait loci.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-14-78DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3635893PMC
February 2013

Development of expressed sequence tag and expressed sequence tag-simple sequence repeat marker resources for Musa acuminata.

AoB Plants 2012 26;2012:pls030. Epub 2012 Nov 26.

Universidade de Brasília , Campus Universitário Darcy Ribeiro , Instituto de Ciências Biológicas , Asa Norte, CEP 70910-900, Brasília, DF , Brazil.

Background And Aims: Banana (Musa acuminata) is a crop contributing to global food security. Many varieties lack resistance to biotic stresses, due to sterility and narrow genetic background. The objective of this study was to develop an expressed sequence tag (EST) database of transcripts expressed during compatible and incompatible banana-Mycosphaerella fijiensis (Mf) interactions. Black leaf streak disease (BLSD), caused by Mf, is a destructive disease of banana. Microsatellite markers were developed as a resource for crop improvement.

Methodology: cDNA libraries were constructed from in vitro-infected leaves from BLSD-resistant M. acuminata ssp. burmaniccoides Calcutta 4 (MAC4) and susceptible M. acuminata cv. Cavendish Grande Naine (MACV). Clones were 5'-end Sanger sequenced, ESTs assembled with TGICL and unigenes annotated using BLAST, Blast2GO and InterProScan. Mreps was used to screen for simple sequence repeats (SSRs), with markers evaluated for polymorphism using 20 diploid (AA) M. acuminata accessions contrasting in resistance to Mycosphaerella leaf spot diseases.

Principal Results: A total of 9333 high-quality ESTs were obtained for MAC4 and 3964 for MACV, which assembled into 3995 unigenes. Of these, 2592 displayed homology to genes encoding proteins with known or putative function, and 266 to genes encoding proteins with unknown function. Gene ontology (GO) classification identified 543 GO terms, 2300 unigenes were assigned to EuKaryotic orthologous group categories and 312 mapped to Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathways. A total of 624 SSR loci were identified, with trinucleotide repeat motifs the most abundant in MAC4 (54.1 %) and MACV (57.6 %). Polymorphism across M. acuminata accessions was observed with 75 markers. Alleles per polymorphic locus ranged from 2 to 8, totalling 289. The polymorphism information content ranged from 0.08 to 0.81.

Conclusions: This EST collection offers a resource for studying functional genes, including transcripts expressed in banana-Mf interactions. Markers are applicable for genetic mapping, diversity characterization and marker-assisted breeding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/pls030DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3521319PMC
December 2012

Worker honeybee brain proteome.

J Proteome Res 2012 Mar 1;11(3):1485-93. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Mass Spectrometry Group, Physics Department, CEADEN, Havana, Cuba.

A large-scale mapping of the worker honeybee brain proteome was achieved by MudPIT. We identified 2742 proteins from forager and nurse honeybee brain samples; 17% of the total proteins were found to be differentially expressed by spectral count sampling statistics and a G-test. Sequences were compared with the EuKaryotic Orthologous Groups (KOG) catalog set using BLASTX and then categorized into the major KOG categories of most similar sequences. According to this categorization, nurse brain showed increased expression of proteins implicated in translation, ribosomal structure, and biogenesis (14.5%) compared with forager (1.8%). Experienced foragers overexpressed proteins involved in energy production and conversion, showing an extensive difference in this set of proteins (17%) in relation to the nurse subcaste (0.6%). Examples of proteins selectively expressed in each subcaste were analyzed. A comparison between these MudPIT experiments and previous 2-DE experiments revealed nine coincident proteins differentially expressed in both methodologies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/pr2007818DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3321609PMC
March 2012

Comparative genomics allowed the identification of drug targets against human fungal pathogens.

BMC Genomics 2011 Jan 27;12:75. Epub 2011 Jan 27.

Department of Cellular Biology, University of Brasília, Brasília, Brazil.

Background: The prevalence of invasive fungal infections (IFIs) has increased steadily worldwide in the last few decades. Particularly, there has been a global rise in the number of infections among immunosuppressed people. These patients present severe clinical forms of the infections, which are commonly fatal, and they are more susceptible to opportunistic fungal infections than non-immunocompromised people. IFIs have historically been associated with high morbidity and mortality, partly because of the limitations of available antifungal therapies, including side effects, toxicities, drug interactions and antifungal resistance. Thus, the search for alternative therapies and/or the development of more specific drugs is a challenge that needs to be met. Genomics has created new ways of examining genes, which open new strategies for drug development and control of human diseases.

Results: In silico analyses and manual mining selected initially 57 potential drug targets, based on 55 genes experimentally confirmed as essential for Candida albicans or Aspergillus fumigatus and other 2 genes (kre2 and erg6) relevant for fungal survival within the host. Orthologs for those 57 potential targets were also identified in eight human fungal pathogens (C. albicans, A. fumigatus, Blastomyces dermatitidis, Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, Paracoccidioides lutzii, Coccidioides immitis, Cryptococcus neoformans and Histoplasma capsulatum). Of those, 10 genes were present in all pathogenic fungi analyzed and absent in the human genome. We focused on four candidates: trr1 that encodes for thioredoxin reductase, rim8 that encodes for a protein involved in the proteolytic activation of a transcriptional factor in response to alkaline pH, kre2 that encodes for α-1,2-mannosyltransferase and erg6 that encodes for Δ(24)-sterol C-methyltransferase.

Conclusions: Our data show that the comparative genomics analysis of eight fungal pathogens enabled the identification of four new potential drug targets. The preferred profile for fungal targets includes proteins conserved among fungi, but absent in the human genome. These characteristics potentially minimize toxic side effects exerted by pharmacological inhibition of the cellular targets. From this first step of post-genomic analysis, we obtained information relevant to future new drug development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-12-75DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3042012PMC
January 2011

The genome sequence of taurine cattle: a window to ruminant biology and evolution.

Science 2009 Apr;324(5926):522-8

To understand the biology and evolution of ruminants, the cattle genome was sequenced to about sevenfold coverage. The cattle genome contains a minimum of 22,000 genes, with a core set of 14,345 orthologs shared among seven mammalian species of which 1217 are absent or undetected in noneutherian (marsupial or monotreme) genomes. Cattle-specific evolutionary breakpoint regions in chromosomes have a higher density of segmental duplications, enrichment of repetitive elements, and species-specific variations in genes associated with lactation and immune responsiveness. Genes involved in metabolism are generally highly conserved, although five metabolic genes are deleted or extensively diverged from their human orthologs. The cattle genome sequence thus provides a resource for understanding mammalian evolution and accelerating livestock genetic improvement for milk and meat production.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1169588DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943200PMC
April 2009

Comparison of predicted binders in Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus intestine protein variants Bm86 Campo Grande strain, Bm86 and Bm95.

Rev Bras Parasitol Vet 2008 Apr-Jun;17(2):93-8

Department of Animal Health, Embrapa Beef Cattle, Campo Grande, MS 79002-970, Brazil.

This paper reports the sequence analysis of Bm86 Campo Grande strain comparing it with Bm86 and Bm95 antigens from the preparations TickGardPLUS and Gavac, respectively. The PCR product was cloned into pMOSBlue and sequenced. The secondary structure prediction tool PSIPRED was used to calculate alpha helices and beta strand contents of the predicted polypeptide. The hydrophobicity profile was calculated using the algorithms from the Hopp and Woods method, in addition to identification of potential MHC class-I binding regions in the antigens. Pair-wise alignment revealed that the similarity between Bm86 Campo Grande strain and Bm86 is 0.2% higher than that between Bm86 Campo Grande strain and Bm95 antigens. The identities were 96.5% and 96.3% respectively. Major suggestive differences in hydrophobicity were predicted among the sequences in two specific regions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/s1984-29612008000200006DOI Listing
January 2009

Analysis of non-TIR NBS-LRR resistance gene analogs in Musa acuminata Colla: isolation, RFLP marker development, and physical mapping.

BMC Plant Biol 2008 Jan 30;8:15. Epub 2008 Jan 30.

Postgraduate program in Genomic Science and Biotechnology, Universidade Católica de Brasília, SGAN 916, Módulo B, CEP 70,790-160, Brasília, DF, Brazil.

Background: Many commercial banana varieties lack sources of resistance to pests and diseases, as a consequence of sterility and narrow genetic background. Fertile wild relatives, by contrast, possess greater variability and represent potential sources of disease resistance genes (R-genes). The largest known family of plant R-genes encode proteins with nucleotide-binding site (NBS) and C-terminal leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domains. Conserved motifs in such genes in diverse plant species offer a means for isolation of candidate genes in banana which may be involved in plant defence.

Results: A computational strategy was developed for unbiased conserved motif discovery in NBS and LRR domains in R-genes and homologues in monocotyledonous plant species. Degenerate PCR primers targeting conserved motifs were tested on the wild cultivar Musa acuminata subsp. burmannicoides, var. Calcutta 4, which is resistant to a number of fungal pathogens and nematodes. One hundred and seventy four resistance gene analogs (RGAs) were amplified and assembled into 52 contiguous sequences. Motifs present were typical of the non-TIR NBS-LRR RGA subfamily. A phylogenetic analysis of deduced amino-acid sequences for 33 RGAs with contiguous open reading frames (ORFs), together with RGAs from Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa, grouped most Musa RGAs within monocotyledon-specific clades. RFLP-RGA markers were developed, with 12 displaying distinct polymorphisms in parentals and F1 progeny of a diploid M. acuminata mapping population. Eighty eight BAC clones were identified in M. acuminata Calcutta 4, M. acuminata Grande Naine, and M. balbisiana Pisang Klutuk Wulung BAC libraries when hybridized to two RGA probes. Multiple copy RGAs were common within BAC clones, potentially representing variation reservoirs for evolution of new R-gene specificities.

Conclusion: This is the first large scale analysis of NBS-LRR RGAs in M. acuminata Calcutta 4. Contig sequences were deposited in GenBank and assigned numbers ER935972 - ER936023. RGA sequences and isolated BACs are a valuable resource for R-gene discovery, and in future applications will provide insight into the organization and evolution of NBS-LRR R-genes in the Musa A and B genome. The developed RFLP-RGA markers are applicable for genetic map development and marker assisted selection for defined traits such as pest and disease resistance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2229-8-15DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2262081PMC
January 2008

ESTs from a wild Arachis species for gene discovery and marker development.

BMC Plant Biol 2007 Feb 15;7. Epub 2007 Feb 15.

Departamento de Biologia Celular, Universidade de Brasília, Campus I, Brasília, DF. Brazil.

Background: Due to its origin, peanut has a very narrow genetic background. Wild relatives can be a source of genetic variability for cultivated peanut. In this study, the transcriptome of the wild species Arachis stenosperma accession V10309 was analyzed.

Results: ESTs were produced from four cDNA libraries of RNAs extracted from leaves and roots of A. stenosperma. Randomly selected cDNA clones were sequenced to generate 8,785 ESTs, of which 6,264 (71.3%) had high quality, with 3,500 clusters: 963 contigs and 2537 singlets. Only 55.9% matched homologous sequences of known genes. ESTs were classified into 23 different categories according to putative protein functions. Numerous sequences related to disease resistance, drought tolerance and human health were identified. Two hundred and six microsatellites were found and markers have been developed for 188 of these. The microsatellite profile was analyzed and compared to other transcribed and genomic sequence data.

Conclusion: This is, to date, the first report on the analysis of transcriptome of a wild relative of peanut. The ESTs produced in this study are a valuable resource for gene discovery, the characterization of new wild alleles, and for marker development. The ESTs were released in the [GenBank:EH041934 to EH048197].
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2229-7-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1808460PMC
February 2007

A fast surface-matching procedure for protein-ligand docking.

J Mol Model 2006 Sep 4;12(6):965-72. Epub 2006 May 4.

Embrapa Informática Agropecuária, Caixa Postal 6041, Av. Dr. André Tosello, no 209, Barão Geraldo-Campinas, (SP)-CEP 13083-886, Brazil.

A very simple, fast, and efficient scheme is proposed for performing preliminary protein-ligand docking as the first step of intensive high-throughput virtual screening. The procedure acts as a surface-complementarity filter that first calculates the 2D-contour maps of both the protein cavity and of the ligands using a spherical harmonics description of the associated molecular surfaces. Next, the obtained 2D-fingerprint images are compared to detect their complementarity. This scheme was tested on three typical cases of protein cavities, namely, a well-closed pocket, a small open pocket, and a large open one. For that purpose, for each case, a sample of 101 ligand conformers was generated (the X-ray one and 100 different conformers generated using simulated annealing), and these conformational samples were ranked according to the complementarity with the protein cavity surface. Compared to traditional docking procedures such as FRED (considered as typical of a very fast rigid body docking algorithms) and GOLD (considered as typical of the more accurate flexible docking algorithms), our procedure was much faster and more successful in detecting the right X-ray conformation. We did, however, identify a certain weakness in the case of the very large pocket where results were not as expected. In general, our method could be used for incorporating indirectly flexibility in protein-ligand docking calculations as such a scheme can easily handle several conformational states of both the protein and the ligand.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00894-006-0109-zDOI Listing
September 2006

Cell signaling pathways in Paracoccidioides brasiliensis--inferred from comparisons with other fungi.

Genet Mol Res 2005 Jun 30;4(2):216-31. Epub 2005 Jun 30.

Departamento de Biologia Celular, IB, Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, DF, Brazil.

The human fungal pathogen Paracoccidioides brasiliensis is an ascomycete that displays a temperature-dependent dimorphic transition, appearing as a mycelium at 22 degrees C and as a yeast at 37 degrees C, this latter being the virulent form. We report on the in silico search made of the P. brasiliensis transcriptome-expressed sequence tag database for components of signaling pathways previously known to be involved in morphogenesis and virulence in other species of fungi, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Cryptococcus neoformans, Candida albicans, and Aspergillus fumigatus. Using this approach, it was possible to identify several protein cascades in P. brasiliensis, such as i) mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling for cell integrity, cell wall construction, pheromone/mating, and osmo-regulation, ii) the cAMP/PKA system, which regulates fungal development and virulence, iii) the Ras protein, which allows cross-talking between cascades, iv) calcium-calmodulin-calcineurin, which controls cell survival under oxidative stress, high temperature, and membrane/cell wall perturbation, and v) the target of rapamycin pathway, controlling cell growth and proliferation. The ways in which P. brasiliensis responds to the environment and modulates the expression of genes required for its survival and virulence can be inferred through comparison with other fungi for which this type of data is already available.
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June 2005

Transcriptional profiles of the human pathogenic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis in mycelium and yeast cells.

J Biol Chem 2005 Jul 22;280(26):24706-14. Epub 2005 Apr 22.

Departamento de Biologia Celular, Universidade de Brasília, 70910-900, Brasília, DF, Brazil.

Paracoccidioides brasiliensis is the causative agent of paracoccidioidomycosis, a disease that affects 10 million individuals in Latin America. This report depicts the results of the analysis of 6,022 assembled groups from mycelium and yeast phase expressed sequence tags, covering about 80% of the estimated genome of this dimorphic, thermo-regulated fungus. The data provide a comprehensive view of the fungal metabolism, including overexpressed transcripts, stage-specific genes, and also those that are up- or down-regulated as assessed by in silico electronic subtraction and cDNA microarrays. Also, a significant differential expression pattern in mycelium and yeast cells was detected, which was confirmed by Northern blot analysis, providing insights into differential metabolic adaptations. The overall transcriptome analysis provided information about sequences related to the cell cycle, stress response, drug resistance, and signal transduction pathways of the pathogen. Novel P. brasiliensis genes have been identified, probably corresponding to proteins that should be addressed as virulence factor candidates and potential new drug targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M500625200DOI Listing
July 2005

Molecular, functional and structural properties of the prolyl oligopeptidase of Trypanosoma cruzi (POP Tc80), which is required for parasite entry into mammalian cells.

Biochem J 2005 May;388(Pt 1):29-38

Laboratório Multidisciplinar de Pesquisa em Doença de Chagas (CP 04536), Universidade de Brasília, 70919-970, Brasília, DF, Brazil.

We have demonstrated that the 80 kDa POP Tc80 (prolyl oligopeptidase of Trypanosoma cruzi) is involved in the process of cell invasion, since specific inhibitors block parasite entry into non-phagocytic mammalian host cells. In contrast with other POPs, POP Tc80 is capable of hydrolysing large substrates, such as fibronectin and native collagen. In this study, we present the cloning of the POPTc80 gene, whose deduced amino acid sequence shares considerable identity with other members of the POP family, mainly within its C-terminal portion that forms the catalytic domain. Southern-blot analysis indicated that POPTc80 is present as a single copy in the genome of the parasite. These results are consistent with mapping of POPTc80 to a single chromosome. The active recombinant protein (rPOP Tc80) displayed kinetic properties comparable with those of the native enzyme. Novel inhibitors were assayed with rPOP Tc80, and the most efficient ones presented values of inhibition coefficient Ki < or = 1.52 nM. Infective parasites treated with these specific POP Tc80 inhibitors attached to the surface of mammalian host cells, but were incapable of infecting them. Structural modelling of POP Tc80, based on the crystallized porcine POP, suggested that POP Tc80 is composed of an alpha/beta-hydrolase domain containing the catalytic triad Ser548-Asp631-His667 and a seven-bladed beta-propeller non-catalytic domain. Docking analysis suggests that triple-helical collagen access to the catalytic site of POP Tc80 occurs in the vicinity of the interface between the two domains.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/BJ20041049DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1186690PMC
May 2005