Plasmodiumfalciparum GFP-E-NTPDase expression at the intraerythrocytic stages and its inhibition blocks the development of the human malaria parasite
BACKGROUND The protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi is the causative agent of Chagas disease. There are no vaccines or effective treatment, especially in the chronic phase when most patients are diagnosed. There is a clear necessity to develop new drugs and strategies for the control and treatment of Chagas disease. Recent papers have suggested the ecto-nucleotidases (from CD39 family) from pathogenic agents as important virulence factors. In this study we evaluated the influence of Ecto-Nucleoside-Triphosphate-Diphosphohydrolase (Ecto-NTPDase) activity on infectivity and virulence of T. cruzi using both in vivo and in vitro models. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS We followed Ecto-NTPDase activities of Y strain infective forms (trypomastigotes) obtained during sequential sub-cultivation in mammalian cells. ATPase/ADPase activity ratios of cell-derived trypomastigotes decreased 3- to 6-fold and infectivity was substantially reduced during sequential sub-cultivation. Surprisingly, at third to fourth passages most of the cell-derived trypomastigotes could not penetrate mammalian cells and had differentiated into amastigote-like parasites that exhibited 3- to 4-fold lower levels of Ecto-NTPDase activities. To evidence the participation of T. cruzi Ecto-NTPDase1 in the infective process, we evaluated the effect of known Ecto-ATPDase inhibitors (ARL 67156, Gadolinium and Suramin), or anti-NTPDase-1 polyclonal antiserum on ATPase and ADPase hydrolytic activities in recombinant T. cruzi NTPDase-1 and in live trypomastigotes. All tests showed a partial inhibition of Ecto-ATPDase activities and a marked inhibition of trypomastigotes infectivity. Mice infections with Ecto-NTPDase-inhibited trypomastigotes produced lower levels of parasitemia and higher host survival than with non-inhibited control parasites. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE Our results suggest that Ecto-ATPDases act as facilitators of infection and virulence in vitro and in vivo and emerge as target candidates in chemotherapy of Chagas disease.