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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37740. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037740. Epub 2012 May 25.

Metabolic profiling of the protozoan parasite Entamoeba invadens revealed activation of unpredicted pathway during encystation.

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  • 1Department of Parasitology, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.


Encystation, which is cellular differentiation from the motile, proliferative, labile trophozoite form to the dormant, resistant cyst form, is a crucial process found in parasitic and free-living protozoa such as Entamoeba, Giardia, Acanthamoeba, and Balamuthia. Since encystation is an essential process to deal with the adverse external environmental changes during the life cycle, and often integral to the transmission of the diseases, biochemical understanding of the process potentially provides useful measures against the infections caused by this group of protozoa. In this study, we investigated metabolic and transcriptomic changes that occur during encystation in Entamoeba invadens, the reptilian sibling of mammal-infecting E. histolytica, using capillary electrophoresis-tandem mass spectrometry-based metabolite profiling and DNA microarray-based expression profiling. As the encystation progressed, the levels of majority of metabolites involved in glycolysis and nucleotides drastically decreased, indicating energy generation is ceased. Furthermore, the flux of glycolysis was redirected toward chitin wall biosynthesis. We found remarkable temporal increases in biogenic amines such as isoamylamine, isobutylamine, and cadaverine, during the early period of encystation, when the trophozoites form large multicellular aggregates (precyst). We also found remarkable induction of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) during encystation. This study has unveiled for the first time the dynamics of the transcriptional and metabolic regulatory networks during encystation, and should help in better understanding of the process in pathogenic eukaryotes, and further development of measures controlling infections they cause.

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