Modeling the metabolic interplay between a parasitic worm and its bacterial endosymbiont allows the identification of novel drug targets

David M. Curran, Alexandra Grote, Nirvana Nursimulu, Adam Geber, Dennis Voronin, Drew R. Jones, Elodie Ghedin, John Parkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The filarial nematode Brugia malayi represents a leading cause of disability in the developing world, causing lymphatic filariasis in nearly 40 million people. Currently available drugs are not well-suited to mass drug administration efforts, so new treatments are urgently required. One potential vulnerability is the endosymbiotic bacteria Wolbachia—present in many filariae— which is vital to the worm. Genome scale metabolic networks have been used to study prokaryotes and protists and have proven valuable in identifying therapeutic targets, but have only been applied to multicellular eukaryotic organisms more recently. Here, we present iDC625, the first compartmentalized metabolic model of a parasitic worm. We used this model to show how metabolic pathway usage allows the worm to adapt to different environments, and predict a set of 102 reactions essential to the survival of B. malayi. We validated three of those reactions with drug tests and demonstrated novel antifilarial properties for all three compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere51850
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournaleLife
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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