Differential expression of Acanthamoeba castellanii proteins during amoebic keratitis in rats

Amoebic keratitis (AK) is a sight-threatening infection characterized by a severe inflammation of the cornea, caused by the free-living protozoan of the genus Acanthamoeba. Identification of amoebic proteins involved in AK pathogenesis may help to elucidate molecular mechanisms of infection and contribute to indicate diagnostic and therapeutic targets. In this study, we evaluated changes in the expression profile of Acanthamoeba proteins triggered by the invasive process, using an approach involving two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2DE PAGE), followed by mass spectrometry identification (ESI-IT-TOF LC-MSn). AK was induced by intrastromal inoculation in Wistar rats, using trophozoites from a T4 genotype, human case-derived A. castellanii strain under prolonged axenic culture. Cultures re-isolated from the lesions after two successive passages in the animals were used as biological triplicate for proteomic experiments. Analysis of the protein profile comparing long-term and re-isolated cultures indicated 62 significant spots, from which 27 proteins could be identified in the Acanthamoeba proteome database. Five of them (Serpin, Carboxypeptidase A1, Hypothetical protein, Calponin domain-containing protein, aldo/keto reductase) were exclusively found in the re-isolated trophozoites. Our analysis also revealed that a concerted modulation of several biochemical pathways is triggered when A. castellanii switches from a free-living style to a parasitic mode, including energetic metabolism, proteolytic activity, control of gene expression, protein degradation and methylation of DNA, which may be also involved in gain of virulence in an animal model of AK.
Acanthamoeba;  Amoebic keratitis rat model;  Proteomics

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Carvalho-Silva AC, Coelho CH., Cirelli C, Crepaldi F, Rodrigues-Chagas IA, Furst C, et al. Differential expression of Acanthamoeba castellanii proteins during amoebic keratitis in rats. Exp Parasitol. 2021 Fev;221:108060. doi:10.1016/j.exppara.2020.108060.
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