Publications by authors named "Simone L Reynolds"

9 Publications

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A unique group of scabies mite pseudoproteases promotes cutaneous blood coagulation and delays plasmin-induced fibrinolysis.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2021 01 6;15(1):e0008997. Epub 2021 Jan 6.

Cell and Molecular Biology Department, Infectious Diseases Program, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

Background: Scabies, a highly contagious skin disease affecting more than 200 million people worldwide at any time, is caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei. In the absence of molecular markers, diagnosis requires experience making surveillance and control challenging. Superficial microthrombi in the absence of vasculitis in scabies-affected skin are a recognised, yet unexplained histopathological differential of scabies infection. This study demonstrates that a family of Scabies Mite Inactivated Cysteine Protease Paralogues (SMIPP-Cs) excreted by the mites plays a role in formation of scabies-induced superficial microthrombi.

Methodology/principal Findings: A series of in vitro and ex vivo experiments involving two representative recombinant SMIPP-Cs was carried out. In the presence of SMIPP-Cs, the thrombin clotting time (TCT), fibrin formation and plasmin induced fibrinolysis were monitored in vitro. The ultrastructure of the SMIPP-C-modulated fibrin was analysed by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Immuno-histological analyses were performed ex vivo, to localise the SMIPP-C proteins within scabies infected skin biopsies. SMIPP-Cs displayed pro-coagulant properties. They bound calcium ions, reduced the thrombin clotting time, enhanced the fibrin formation rate and delayed plasmin-induced fibrinolysis. The SMIPP-Cs associated with fibrin clots during fibrinogen polymerisation and did not bind to preformed fibrin. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the fibrin clots formed in the presence of SMIPP-Cs were aberrant and denser than normal fibrin clots. SMIPP-Cs were detected in microthrombi which are commonly seen in scabietic skin.

Conclusions/significance: The SMIPP-Cs are the first scabies mite proteins found in sub-epidermal skin layers and their pro-coagulant properties promote superficial microthrombi formation in scabetic skin. Further research is needed to evaluate their potential as diagnostic or therapeutic target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0008997DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7815109PMC
January 2021

High-quality nuclear genome for Sarcoptes scabiei-A critical resource for a neglected parasite.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2020 10 1;14(10):e0008720. Epub 2020 Oct 1.

Cell and Molecular Biology Department, Infectious Diseases Program, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

The parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei is an economically highly significant parasite of the skin of humans and animals worldwide. In humans, this mite causes a neglected tropical disease (NTD), called scabies. This disease results in major morbidity, disability, stigma and poverty globally and is often associated with secondary bacterial infections. Currently, anti-scabies treatments are not sufficiently effective, resistance to them is emerging and no vaccine is available. Here, we report the first high-quality genome and transcriptomic data for S. scabiei. The genome is 56.6 Mb in size, has a a repeat content of 10.6% and codes for 9,174 proteins. We explored key molecules involved in development, reproduction, host-parasite interactions, immunity and disease. The enhanced 'omic data sets for S. scabiei represent comprehensive and critical resources for genetic, functional genomic, metabolomic, phylogenetic, ecological and/or epidemiological investigations, and will underpin the design and development of new treatments, vaccines and/or diagnostic tests.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0008720DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7591027PMC
October 2020

Phylogenetic relationships, stage-specific expression and localisation of a unique family of inactive cysteine proteases in Sarcoptes scabiei.

Parasit Vectors 2018 05 16;11(1):301. Epub 2018 May 16.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Infectious Diseases Program, 300 Herston Road, Herston, Brisbane, QLD, 4006, Australia.

Background: Scabies is worldwide one of the most common, yet neglected, parasitic skin infections, affecting a wide range of mammals including humans. Limited treatment options and evidence of emerging mite resistance against the currently used drugs drive our research to explore new therapeutic candidates. Previously, we discovered a multicopy family of genes encoding cysteine proteases with their catalytic sites inactivated by mutation (SMIPP-Cs). This protein family is unique in parasitic scabies mites and is absent in related non-burrowing mites. We postulated that the SMIPP-Cs have evolved as an adaptation to the parasitic lifestyle of the scabies mite. To formulate testable hypotheses for their functions and to propose possible strategies for translational research we investigated whether the SMIPP-Cs are common to all scabies mite varieties and where within the mite body as well as when throughout the parasitic life-cycle they are expressed.

Results: SMIPP-C sequences from human, pig and dog mites were analysed bioinformatically and the phylogenetic relationships between the SMIPP-C multi-copy gene families of human, pig and dog mites were established. Results suggest that amplification of the SMIPP-C genes occurred in a common ancestor and individual genes evolved independently in the different mite varieties. Recombinant human mite SMIPP-C proteins were produced and used for murine polyclonal antibody production. Immunohistology on skin sections from human patients localised the SMIPP-Cs in the mite gut and in mite faeces within in the epidermal skin burrows. SMIPP-C transcription into mRNA in different life stages was assessed in human and pig mites by reverse transcription followed by droplet digital PCR (ddPCR). High transcription levels of SMIPP-C genes were detected in the adult female life stage in comparison to all other life stages.

Conclusions: The fact that the SMIPP-Cs are unique to three Sarcoptes varieties, present in all burrowing life stages and highly expressed in the digestive system of the infective adult female life stage may highlight an essential role in parasitism. As they are excreted from the gut in scybala they presumably are able to interact or interfere with host proteins present in the epidermis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-018-2862-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5956821PMC
May 2018

Gene silencing by RNA interference in Sarcoptes scabiei: a molecular tool to identify novel therapeutic targets.

Parasit Vectors 2017 Jun 10;10(1):289. Epub 2017 Jun 10.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Infectious Diseases Department, 300 Herston Road, Herston, Brisbane, 4006, Australia.

Background: Scabies is one of the most common and widespread parasitic skin infections globally, affecting a large range of mammals including humans, yet the molecular biology of Sarcoptes scabiei is astonishingly understudied. Research has been hampered primarily due to the difficulty of sampling or culturing these obligatory parasitic mites. A further and major impediment to identify and functionally analyse potential therapeutic targets from the recently emerging molecular databases is the lack of appropriate molecular tools.

Methods: We performed standard BLAST based searches of the existing S. scabiei genome databases using sequences of genes described to be involved in RNA interference in Drosophila and the mite model organism Tetranychus urticae. Experimenting with the S. scabiei mu-class glutathione S-transferase (SsGST-mu1) as a candidate gene we explored the feasibility of gene knockdown in S. scabiei by double-stranded RNA-interference (dsRNAi).

Results: We provide here an analysis of the existing S. scabiei draft genomes, confirming the presence of a double stranded RNA (dsRNA) - mediated silencing machinery. We report for the first time experimental gene silencing by RNA interference (RNAi) in S. scabiei. Non-invasive immersion of S. scabiei in dsRNA encoding an S. scabiei glutathione S-transferase mu-class 1 enzyme (SsGST-mu1) resulted in a 35% reduction in the transcription of the target gene compared to controls.

Conclusions: A series of experiments identified the optimal conditions allowing systemic experimental RNAi without detrimental side effects on mite viability. This technique can now be used to address the key questions on the fundamental aspects of mite biology and pathogenesis, and to assess the potential therapeutic benefits of silencing S. scabiei target genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-017-2226-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466799PMC
June 2017

Pseudoproteases: mechanisms and function.

Biochem J 2015 May;468(1):17-24

*Infectious Diseases Department, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Locked Bag 2000, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, QLD 4029, Australia.

Catalytically inactive enzymes (also known as pseudoproteases, protease homologues or paralogues, non-peptidase homologues, non-enzymes and pseudoenzymes) have traditionally been hypothesized to act as regulators of their active homologues. However, those that have been characterized demonstrate that inactive enzymes have an extensive and expanding role in biological processes, including regulation, inhibition and immune modulation. With the emergence of each new genome, more inactive enzymes are being identified, and their abundance and potential as therapeutic targets has been realized. In the light of the growing interest in this emerging field the present review focuses on the classification, structure, function and mechanism of inactive enzymes. Examples of how inactivity is defined, how this is reflected in the structure, functions of inactive enzymes in biological processes and their mode of action are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/BJ20141506DOI Listing
May 2015

Scabies mite inactive serine proteases are potent inhibitors of the human complement lectin pathway.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2014 May 22;8(5):e2872. Epub 2014 May 22.

Infectious Diseases Division, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

Scabies is an infectious skin disease caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei and has been classified as one of the six most prevalent epidermal parasitic skin diseases infecting populations living in poverty by the World Health Organisation. The role of the complement system, a pivotal component of human innate immunity, as an important defence against invading pathogens has been well documented and many parasites have an arsenal of anti-complement defences. We previously reported on a family of scabies mite proteolytically inactive serine protease paralogues (SMIPP-Ss) thought to be implicated in host defence evasion. We have since shown that two family members, SMIPP-S D1 and I1 have the ability to bind the human complement components C1q, mannose binding lectin (MBL) and properdin and are capable of inhibiting all three human complement pathways. This investigation focused on inhibition of the lectin pathway of complement activation as it is likely to be the primary pathway affecting scabies mites. Activation of the lectin pathway relies on the activation of MBL, and as SMIPP-S D1 and I1 have previously been shown to bind MBL, the nature of this interaction was examined using binding and mutagenesis studies. SMIPP-S D1 bound MBL in complex with MBL-associated serine proteases (MASPs) and released the MASP-2 enzyme from the complex. SMIPP-S I1 was also able to bind MBL in complex with MASPs, but MASP-1 and MASP-2 remained in the complex. Despite these differences in mechanism, both molecules inhibited activation of complement components downstream of MBL. Mutagenesis studies revealed that both SMIPP-Ss used an alternative site of the molecule from the residual active site region to inhibit the lectin pathway. We propose that SMIPP-Ss are potent lectin pathway inhibitors and that this mechanism represents an important tool in the immune evasion repertoire of the parasitic mite and a potential target for therapeutics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0002872DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4031079PMC
May 2014

Complement inhibitors from scabies mites promote streptococcal growth--a novel mechanism in infected epidermis?

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2012 17;6(7):e1563. Epub 2012 Jul 17.

Infectious Diseases Program, Biology Department, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Herston, Brisbane, Australia.

Background: Scabies is highly prevalent in socially disadvantaged communities such as indigenous populations and in developing countries. Generalized itching causes discomfort to the patient; however, serious complications can occur as a result of secondary bacterial pyoderma, commonly caused by Streptococcus pyogenes (GAS) or Staphylococcus aureus. In the tropics, skin damage due to scabies mite infestations has been postulated to be an important link in the pathogenesis of disease associated with acute rheumatic fever and heart disease, poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis and systemic sepsis. Treatment of scabies decreases the prevalence of infections by bacteria. This study aims to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying the link between scabies and GAS infections.

Methodology/principal Findings: GAS bacteria were pre-incubated with blood containing active complement, phagocytes and antibodies against the bacteria, and subsequently tested for viability by plate counts. Initial experiments were done with serum from an individual previously exposed to GAS with naturally acquired anti-GAS antibodies. The protocol was optimized for large-scale testing of low-opsonic whole blood from non-exposed human donors by supplementing with a standard dose of heat inactivated human sera previously exposed to GAS. This allowed an extension of the dataset to two additional donors and four proteins tested at a range of concentrations. Shown first is the effect of scabies mite complement inhibitors on human complement using ELISA-based complement activation assays. Six purified recombinant mite proteins tested at a concentration of 50 µg/ml blocked all three complement activation pathways. Further we demonstrate in human whole blood assays that each of four scabies mite complement inhibitors tested increased GAS survival rates by 2-15 fold.

Conclusions/significance: We propose that local complement inhibition plays an important role in the development of pyoderma in scabies infested skin. This molecular link between scabies and bacterial infections may provide new avenues to develop alternative treatment options against this neglected disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0001563DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3398963PMC
November 2012

Novel scabies mite serpins inhibit the three pathways of the human complement system.

PLoS One 2012 11;7(7):e40489. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Infectious Diseases Program, Biology Department, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Scabies is a parasitic infestation of the skin by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei that causes significant morbidity worldwide, in particular within socially disadvantaged populations. In order to identify mechanisms that enable the scabies mite to evade human immune defenses, we have studied molecules associated with proteolytic systems in the mite, including two novel scabies mite serine protease inhibitors (SMSs) of the serpin superfamily. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that within mite-infected human skin SMSB4 (54 kDa) and SMSB3 (47 kDa) were both localized in the mite gut and feces. Recombinant purified SMSB3 and SMSB4 did not inhibit mite serine and cysteine proteases, but did inhibit mammalian serine proteases, such as chymotrypsin, albeit inefficiently. Detailed functional analysis revealed that both serpins interfered with all three pathways of the human complement system at different stages of their activation. SMSB4 inhibited mostly the initial and progressing steps of the cascades, while SMSB3 showed the strongest effects at the C9 level in the terminal pathway. Additive effects of both serpins were shown at the C9 level in the lectin pathway. Both SMSs were able to interfere with complement factors without protease function. A range of binding assays showed direct binding between SMSB4 and seven complement proteins (C1, properdin, MBL, C4, C3, C6 and C8), while significant binding of SMSB3 occurred exclusively to complement factors without protease function (C4, C3, C8). Direct binding was observed between SMSB4 and the complement proteases C1s and C1r. However no complex formation was observed between either mite serpin and the complement serine proteases C1r, C1s, MASP-1, MASP-2 and MASP-3. No catalytic inhibition by either serpin was observed for any of these enzymes. In summary, the SMSs were acting at several levels mediating overall inhibition of the complement system and thus we propose that they may protect scabies mites from complement-mediated gut damage.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0040489PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3394726PMC
April 2013

Intestinal proteases of free-living and parasitic astigmatid mites.

Cell Tissue Res 2013 Feb 17;351(2):339-52. Epub 2012 Mar 17.

Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, PO Box 41096, Casuarina, NT, 0811, Australia.

Among arthropod pests, mites are responsible for considerable damage to crops, humans and other animals. However, detailed physiological data on these organisms remain sparse, mainly because of their small size but possibly also because of their extreme diversity. Focusing on intestinal proteases, we draw together information from three distinct mite species that all feed on skin but have separately adapted to a free-living, a strictly ecto-parasitic and a parasitic lifestyle. A wide range of studies involving immunohistology, molecular biology, X-ray crystallography and enzyme biochemistry of mite gut proteases suggests that these creatures have diverged considerably as house dust mites, sheep scab mites and scabies mites. Each species has evolved a particular variation of a presumably ancestral repertoire of digestive enzymes that have become specifically adapted to their individual environmental requirements.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00441-012-1369-9DOI Listing
February 2013