Main content area

Identification of functional FKB protein in Echinococcus granulosus: Its involvement in the protoscolicidal action of rapamycin derivates and in calcium homeostasis

Cumino, Andrea C., Lamenza, Pamela, Denegri, Guillermo M.
International journal for parasitology 2010 v.40 no.6 pp. 651-661
Echinococcus granulosus, Protozoa, calcium, calcium channels, cyclosporine, drug therapy, echinococcosis, enzyme activity, gene overexpression, genes, helminths, homeostasis, humans, larvae, messenger RNA, microorganisms, protein folding, tacrolimus
FK506 (tacrolimus) and polyketide macrolides such as rapamycin and its derivates bind to FK506-binding proteins (FKBPs). These proteins display a peptidyl-prolyl rotamase function that is believed to catalyze protein folding and they are well-validated anti-proliferative drug targets in certain pathogenic microorganisms, and their functions have been characterized in parasitic protozoa. However, much less is known in helminths and trials with rapalogs on cestoda have not yet been reported. Due to a growing need for new treatment options for human cystic echinococcosis, the in vitro efficacy of rapalogs in Echinococcus granulosus was investigated. We determined the effect of ramapycin, FK506 and everolimus against this cestode, demonstrating their protoscolicidal ability. Also, we observed synergic scolicidal actions during combined therapy with rapalogs plus cyclosporine A, proposing dual administration of drugs to improve pharmacological effects in vivo. We have identified an E. granulosus (Eg)-fkb1 gene that encodes Eg-FKBP, an archetypal protein of the FKBP family, which includes all residues implicated in the binding of pharmacological ligands, in the enzymatic activity and in interactions with possible target proteins. Levels of Eg-fkb1 mRNA are over-expressed by acid but not rapalog treatment. We also described the presence of receptor-operated calcium channels in the larval stage, suggesting that exogenous ligands may dissociate the interaction of Eg-FKBP from these intracellular channels, enhancing the activity of the Ca²⁺ release and interfering with their normal regulatory functions. As rapamycin sensitivity is the major criterion used to detect targets of rapamycin kinase, we identified and analyzed in silico critical residues of putative homologs in the Echinococcus genome. These preliminary results will allow us to continue subsequent studies that could reveal the precise intracellular functions of Eg-FKBP, providing greater knowledge for further identification of downstream target proteins, a promising target for chemotherapy of cystic echinococcosis.