The mRNA cap methyltransferase gene TbCMT1 is not essential in vitro but is a virulence factor in vivo for bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei.

Kelner A, Tinti M, Guther MLS, Foth BJ, Chappell L, Berriman M, et al.

PLoS One [Internet]. 2018;13(7):e0201263.

Messenger RNA is modified by the addition of a 5′ methylated cap structure, which protects the transcript and recruits protein complexes that mediate RNA processing and/or the initiation of translation. Two genes encoding mRNA cap methyltransferases have been identified in TbruceiTbCMT1 and TbCGM1. Here we analysed the impact of TbCMT1 gene deletion on bloodstream form Tbrucei cells. TbCMT1 was dispensable for parasite proliferation in in vitroculture. However, significantly decreased parasitemia was observed in mice inoculated with TbCMT1 null and conditional null cell lines. Using RNA-Seq, we observed that several cysteine peptidase mRNAs were downregulated in TbCMT1 null cells lines. The cysteine peptidase Cathepsin-L was also shown to be reduced at the protein level in TbCMT1 null cell lines. Our data suggest that TbCMT1 is not essential to bloodstream form Tbrucei growth in vitro or in vivo but that it contributes significantly to parasite virulence in vivo.