Hydrogen peroxide resistance inStrigomonas culicis: Effects on mitochondrial functionality andAedes aegyptiinteraction

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Abstract

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are toxic molecules involved in several biological processes such as cellular signaling, proliferation, differentiation and cell death. Adaptations to oxidative environments are crucial for the success of the colonization of insects by protozoa. Strigomonas culicis is a monoxenic trypanosomatid found in the midgut of mosquitoes and presenting a life cycle restricted to the epimastigote form. Among S. culicis peculiarities, there is an endosymbiotic bacterium in the cytoplasm, which completes essential biosynthetic routes of the host cell and may represent an intermediary evolutive step in organelle origin, thus constituting an interesting model for evolutive researches. In this work, we induced ROS resistance in wild type S. culicis epimastigotes by the incubation with increasing concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and compared the oxidative and energetic metabolisms among wild type, wild type-H2O2 resistant and aposymbiotic strains. Resistant protozoa were less sensitive to the oxidative challenge and more dependent on oxidative phosphorylation, which was demonstrated by higher oxygen consumption and mitochondrial membrane potential, increased activity of complexes II-III and IV, increased complex II gene expression and higher ATP production. Furthermore, the wild type-H2O2 resistant strain produced reduced ROS levels and showed lower lipid peroxidation, as well as an increase in gene expression of antioxidant enzymes and thiol-dependent peroxidase activity. On the other hand, the aposymbiotic strain showed impaired mitochondrial function, higher H2O2 production and deficient antioxidant response. The induction of H2O2 resistance also led to a remarkable increase in Aedes aegypti midgut binding in vitro and colonization in vivo, indicating that both the pro-oxidant environment in the mosquito gut and the oxidative stress susceptibility regulate S. culicis population in invertebrates.

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