Background: Acanthamoeba species are the causative agents of fatal granulomatous encephalitis in humans. Haematogenous spread is thought to be a primary step, followed by blood-brain barrier penetration, in the transmission of Acanthmaoeba into the central nervous system, but the associated molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we evaluated the role of Src, a non-receptor protein tyrosine kinase in the biology and pathogenesis of Acanthamoeba. Methods. Amoebistatic and amoebicidal assays were performed by incubating amoeba in the presence of Src kinase-selective inhibitor, PP2 (4-amino-5-(4- chlorophenyl)-7-(t-butyl)pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine) and its inactive analog, PP3 (4-amino-7-phenylpyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine). Using this inhibitor, the role of Src kinase in A. castellanii interactions with Escherichia coli was determined. Zymographic assays were performed to study effects of Src kinase on extracellular proteolytic activities of A. castellanii. The human brain microvascular endothelial cells were used to determine the effects of Src kinase on A. castellanii adhesion to and cytotoxicity of host cells. Results: Inhibition of Src kinase using a specific inhibitor, PP2 (4-amino-5-(4 chlorophenyl)-7-(t-butyl)pyrazolo [3,4-d] pyrimidine) but not its inactive analog, PP3 (4-amino-7-phenylpyrazolo[3,4-d] pyrimidine), had detrimental effects on the growth of A. castellanii (keratitis isolate, belonging to the T4 genotype). Interestingly, inhibition of Src kinase hampered the phagocytic ability of A. castellanii, as measured by the uptake of non-invasive bacteria, but, on the contrary, invasion by pathogenic bacteria was enhanced. Zymographic assays revealed that inhibition of Src kinases reduced extracellular protease activities of A. castellanii. Src kinase inhibition had no significant effect on A. castellanii binding to and cytotoxicity of primary human brain microvascular endothelial cells, which constitute the blood-brain barrier. Conclusions: For the first time, these findings demonstrated that Src kinase is involved in A. castellanii proliferation, protease secretions and phagocytic properties. Conversely, invasion of Acanthamoeba by pathogenic bacteria was stimulated by Src kinase inhibition.
- Src kinase