The Microtubule-Stabilizing Protein CLASP1 Associates with the Theileria annulata Schizont Surface via Its Kinetochore-Binding Domain.

PMID 28861517


Theileria is an apicomplexan parasite whose presence within the cytoplasm of a leukocyte induces cellular transformation and causes uncontrolled proliferation and clonal expansion of the infected cell. The intracellular schizont utilizes the host cell's own mitotic machinery to ensure its distribution to both daughter cells by associating closely with microtubules (MTs) and incorporating itself within the central spindle. We show that CLASP1, an MT-stabilizing protein that plays important roles in regulating kinetochore-MT attachment and central spindle positioning, is sequestered at the Theileria annulata schizont surface. We used live-cell imaging and immunofluorescence in combination with MT depolymerization assays to demonstrate that CLASP1 binds to the schizont surface in an MT-independent manner throughout the cell cycle and that the recruitment of the related CLASP2 protein to the schizont is MT dependent. By transfecting Theileria-infected cells with a panel of truncation mutants, we found that the kinetochore-binding domain of CLASP1 is necessary and sufficient for parasite localization, revealing that CLASP1 interaction with the parasite occurs independently of EB1. We overexpressed the MT-binding domain of CLASP1 in parasitized cells. This exhibited a dominant negative effect on host MT stability and led to altered parasite size and morphology, emphasizing the importance of proper MT dynamics for Theileria partitioning during host cell division. Using coimmunoprecipitation, we demonstrate that CLASP1 interacts, directly or indirectly, with the schizont membrane protein p104, and we describe for the first time TA03615, a Theileria protein which localizes to the parasite surface, where it has the potential to participate in parasite-host interactions. IMPORTANCET. annulata, the only eukaryote known to be capable of transforming another eukaryote, is a widespread parasite of veterinary importance that puts 250 million cattle at risk worldwide and limits livestock development for some of the poorest people in the world. Crucial to the pathology of Theileria is its ability to interact with host microtubules and the mitotic spindle of the infected cell. This study builds on our previous work in investigating the host and parasite molecules involved in mediating this interaction. Because it is not possible to genetically manipulate Theileria schizonts, identifying protein interaction partners is critical to understanding the function of parasite proteins. By identifying two Theileria surface proteins that are involved in the interaction between CLASP1 and the parasite, we provide important insights into the molecular basis of Theileria persistence within a dividing cell.