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The invasive cell coat at the microsporidian Trachipleistophora hominis-host cell interface contains secreted hexokinases

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Microsporidia are obligate intracellular parasites causing significant disease in humans and economically important animals. In parallel to their extreme genetic reduction, Microsporidia have evolved novel mechanisms for exploiting host metabolism. A number of microsporidians confer secretion of otherwise cytosolic proteins by coding for signal peptides that direct entry into the endoplasmic reticulum. The human pathogen Trachipleistophora hominis encodes for four hexokinases, three of which have signal peptides at the N‐terminus. Here, we localized hexokinase 2 and hexokinase 3 through developmental stages of T. hominis using light and electron microscopy. Both proteins were concentrated in an extracellular coat previously termed the plaque matrix (PQM). The PQM (containing hexokinases) was morphologically dynamic, infiltrating the host cytoplasm predominantly during replicative stages. Throughout development the PQM interacted closely with endoplasmic reticulum that was demonstrated to be active in membrane protein biosynthesis and export. The impact of hexokinase on the host metabolism was probed using the fluorescent analog of glucose, 2‐NBDG, which displayed spatially restricted increases in signal intensity at the parasite/vacuole surface, coincident with hexokinase/PQM distribution. Gross metabolic aberrations, measured using metabolic profiling with the Seahorse XF Analyzer, were not detectable in mixed stage cocultures. Overall, these results highlight a role for the extended cell coat of T. hominis in host–parasite interactions, within which secreted hexokinases may work as part of a metabolic machine to increase glycolytic capacity or ATP generation close to the parasite surface.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00696
Number of pages19
JournalMicrobiology Open
Issue number4
Early online date27 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

    Research areas

  • Cell coat, Hexokinase, Immuno-EM, Microsporidia

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