The flavin inhibitor diphenyleneiodonium renders Trichomonas vaginalis resistant to metronidazole, inhibits thioredoxin reductase and flavin reductase, and shuts off hydrogenosomal enzymatic pathways

David Leitsch*, Daniel Kolarich, Michael Duchêne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Infections with the microaerophilic protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis are commonly treated with metronidazole, a 5-nitroimidazole drug. Metronidazole is selectively toxic to microaerophiles and anaerobes because reduction at the drug's nitro group, which is a precondition for toxicity, occurs only quantitatively in these organisms. In our previous work we identified the flavin enzyme thioredoxin reductase as an electron donor to 5-nitroimidazole drugs in T. vaginalis and observed that highly metronidazole-resistant cell lines lack thioredoxin reductase and flavin reductase activities. In this study we added the flavin inhibitor diphenyleneiodonium (DPI) to T. vaginalis cultures in order to test our hypothesis that metronidazole reduction is catalyzed by flavin enzymes, e.g. thioredoxin reductase, and intracellular free flavins. Indeed, within hours, DPI rendered T. vaginalis insensitive to metronidazole concentrations as high as 1 mM and prevented the formation of metronidazole adducts with proteins. Thioredoxin reductase activity was absent from DPI-treated cells and flavin reductase activity was sharply decreased. In addition, DPI-treated cells also upregulated the expression of antioxidant enzymes, i.e. thioredoxin peroxidases and superoxide dismutases, and displayed a fundamentally altered metabolism caused by inactivation of pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase (PFOR) and concomitant upregulation of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity. Thus, the disruption of the cellular flavin metabolism by DPI mediated metabolic steps which are similar to that of cells with metronidazole resistance induced in vitro. Finally, we present direct evidence that the increased expression of antioxidant enzymes is dispensable for acquiring resistance to metronidazole.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and Biochemical Parasitology
Volume171
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

Keywords

  • Diphenyleneiodonium
  • Drug resistance
  • Flavin metabolism
  • Metronidazole
  • Trichomonas vaginalis

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