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Title: Toxoplasma gondii-mediated host cell transcriptional changes lead to metabolic alterations akin to the Warburg effect
Author: Sundaram, Lalitha Sridevi
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 5808
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite, that is able to infect any nucleated cell. An important global pathogen, T. gondii can cycle between primary and secondary hosts, thus enabling widespread penetrance. Within its intracellular niche – a membrane-bound parasitophorous vacuole – T. gondii is nevertheless able to subvert a variety of host cell processes to allow its continued survival and replication. This includes modulation of host signalling processes as well as the scavenging of nutrient macromolecules. In recent years, microRNAs have emerged as important regulators of cellular processes including inflammation, tumorigenesis and metabolism, as well as development. It has become increasingly clear that this species of non-coding RNA is of great importance in ‘fine tuning’ many cellular responses. I hypothesise in this work that host cell miRNAs may be yet another means by which T. gondii manipulates its host upon infection. Using high-throughput-sequencing, I examine host cell transcriptional responses to infection both at the mRNA and microRNA level, using two strains of T. gondii at a variety of Multiplicities of Infection over a time course of 43 hours. Through these transcriptional analyses I identify a number of dysregulated pathways common in tumorigenesis, and contemplate the hypothesis that T. gondii may be behaving as an ‘intracellular tumour’, subverting host cell metabolic processes to mimic a long-known feature of cancer metabolism – that of aerobic glycolysis (the Warburg effect) – in order to satisfy its own energetic and metabolic needs.
Supervisor: Ajioka, James Warren Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Toxoplasma gondii ; microRNA ; miRNA ; cancer metabolism ; warburg ; glycolysis