Activation of PKC or cAMP-dependent signalling pathways in Entamoeba histolytica triggers the phosphorylation of proteins involved in actin rearrangements necessary for adhesion and locomotion. Analogous motifs to SRE and CRE sequences - known to respond to PMA and cAMP - were identified within the 5' regulatory region (5'RR) of one of the parasite actin genes. These sequences could be involved in the actin transcriptional upregulation reported during signalling. To test this hypothesis, a plasmid containing the 5'RR of the actin gene fused to the bacterial neomycin gene (neo) was used for stable transfection. Expression of neo and endogenous actin was measured after stimulation of transfected amoebae by PMA and dcAMP. It was found that both compounds induced neo and actin expression and showed a co-operative effect in the induction of neo. Induction by PMA or dcAMP failed if the directing amoebic 5'RR lacked SRE and CRE motifs. Transfection of amoebae with plasmid constructs, containing either progressive deletions of the actin 5'RR or site-directed mutations of the SRE and CRE-like motifs, corroborated that these sequences and a co-ordinated participation of PKC- and PKA-activated transcription factors are responsible for the increments in neo and actin mRNAs. In vivo, these PMA and cAMP-response elements could play an important role in regulating actin expression and organization in signalling processes activated during tissue invasion.
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