Disrupted ADP-ribose metabolism with nuclear Poly (ADP-ribose) accumulation leads to different cell death pathways in presence of hydrogen peroxide in procyclic Trypanosoma brucei

Mariana Schlesinger, Salomé C. Vilchez Larrea, Teemu Haikarainen, Mohit Narwal, Harikanth Venkannagari, Mirtha M. Flawiá, Lari Lehtiö, Silvia H. Fernández Villamil

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10 Scopus citations


Background: Poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR) metabolism participates in several biological processes such as DNA damage signaling and repair, which is a thoroughly studied function. PAR is synthesized by Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and hydrolyzed by Poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase (PARG). In contrast to human and other higher eukaryotes, Trypanosoma brucei contains only one PARP and PARG. Up to date, the function of these enzymes has remained elusive in this parasite. The aim of this work is to unravel the role that PAR plays in genotoxic stress response. Methods: The optimal conditions for the activity of purified recombinant TbPARP were determined by using a fluorometric activity assay followed by screening of PARP inhibitors. Sensitivity to a genotoxic agent, H2O2, was assessed by counting motile parasites over the total number in a Neubauer chamber, in presence of a potent PARP inhibitor as well as in procyclic transgenic lines which either down-regulate PARP or PARG, or over-express PARP. Triplicates were carried out for each condition tested and data significance was assessed with two-way Anova followed by Bonferroni test. Finally, PAR influence was studied in cell death pathways by flow cytometry. Results: Abolition of a functional PARP either by using potent inhibitors present or in PARP-silenced parasites had no effect on parasite growth in culture; however, PARP-inhibited and PARP down-regulated parasites presented an increased resistance against H2O2 treatment when compared to their wild type counterparts. PARP over-expressing and PARG-silenced parasites displayed polymer accumulation in the nucleus and, as expected, showed diminished resistance when exposed to the same genotoxic stimulus. Indeed, they suffered a necrotic death pathway, while an apoptosis-like mechanism was observed in control cultures. Surprisingly, PARP migrated to the nucleus and synthesized PAR only after a genomic stress in wild type parasites while PARG occurred always in this organelle. Conclusions: PARP over-expressing and PARG-silenced cells presented PAR accumulation in the nucleus, even in absence of oxidative stress. Procyclic death pathway after genotoxic damage depends on basal nuclear PAR. This evidence demonstrates that the polymer may have a toxic action by itself since the consequences of an exacerbated PARP activity cannot fully explain the increment in sensitivity observed here. Moreover, the unusual localization of PARP and PARG would reveal a novel regulatory mechanism, making them invaluable model systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number173
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 23 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell death
  • Genotoxic damage
  • PAR
  • PARG
  • PARP
  • Trypanosoma brucei

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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