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1.  The Homeodomain Protein Ladybird Late Regulates Synthesis of Milk Proteins during Pregnancy in the Tsetse Fly (Glossina morsitans) 
Regulation of tissue and development specific gene expression patterns underlies the functional specialization of organs in multi-cellular organisms. In the viviparous tsetse fly (Glossina), the female accessory gland is specialized to generate nutrients in the form of a milk-like secretion to support growth of intrauterine larva. Multiple milk protein genes are expressed specifically in the female accessory gland and are tightly linked with larval development. Disruption of milk protein synthesis deprives developing larvae of nutrients and results in extended larval development and/or in abortion. The ability to cause such a disruption could be utilized as a tsetse control strategy. Here we identify and delineate the regulatory sequence of a major milk protein gene (milk gland protein 1:mgp1) by utilizing a combination of molecular techniques in tsetse, Drosophila transgenics, transcriptomics and in silico sequence analyses. The function of this promoter is conserved between tsetse and Drosophila. In transgenic Drosophila the mgp1 promoter directs reporter gene expression in a tissue and stage specific manner orthologous to that of Glossina. Analysis of the minimal required regulatory region of mgp1, and the regulatory regions of other Glossina milk proteins identified putative homeodomain protein binding sites as the sole common feature. Annotation and expression analysis of Glossina homeodomain proteins identified ladybird late (lbl) as being accessory gland/fat body specific and differentially expressed between lactating/non-lactating flies. Knockdown of lbl in tsetse resulted in a significant reduction in transcript abundance of multiple milk protein genes and in a significant loss of fecundity. The role of Lbl in adult reproductive physiology is previously unknown. These results suggest that Lbl is part of a conserved reproductive regulatory system that could have implications beyond tsetse to other vector insects such as mosquitoes. This system is critical for tsetse fecundity and provides a potential target for development of a reproductive inhibitor.
Author Summary
Female tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossina) harbor and give birth to live young. To do this, they nourish their intrauterine larvae with milk secretions. This work focuses upon understanding the regulation of tsetse milk proteins, which are essential for fecundity and are expressed in a temporally and spatially specific manner by pregnant females. We identified the minimal upstream regulatory DNA sequence of the major milk protein gene mgp1, which confers tissue specific expression in the female accessory glands of reproductively active flies. This regulatory sequence functions similarly in transgenic fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) and drives expression of reporter gene products in the adult female accessory gland. Comparison of this regulatory sequence with sequences from other characterized milk proteins indicates that conserved homeodomain transcription factors may be responsible for regulating these genes. Analysis of Glossina homeodomain proteins identified an accessory gland/fat body specific factor, Ladybird late (lbl), which appears to regulate the expression of multiple milk proteins. Reduction of lbl levels interferes with milk protein gene expression, which in turn reduces Glossina fecundity. These results suggest that milk proteins in Glossina are regulated by a conserved regulatory system mediated in part by the homeodomain transcription factor lbl. Components of this system could provide a target for development of a tsetse reproductive inhibitor.
PMCID: PMC3998940  PMID: 24763082
2.  Aquaporins Are Critical for Provision of Water during Lactation and Intrauterine Progeny Hydration to Maintain Tsetse Fly Reproductive Success 
Tsetse flies undergo drastic fluctuations in their water content throughout their adult life history due to events such as blood feeding, dehydration and lactation, an essential feature of the viviparous reproductive biology of tsetse. Aquaporins (AQPs) are transmembrane proteins that allow water and other solutes to permeate through cellular membranes. Here we identify tsetse aquaporin (AQP) genes, examine their expression patterns under different physiological conditions (blood feeding, lactation and stress response) and perform functional analysis of three specific genes utilizing RNA interference (RNAi) gene silencing. Ten putative aquaporins were identified in the Glossina morsitans morsitans (Gmm) genome, two more than has been previously documented in any other insect. All organs, tissues, and body parts examined had distinct AQP expression patterns. Two AQP genes, gmmdripa and gmmdripb ( = gmmaqp1a and gmmaqp1b) are highly expressed in the milk gland/fat body tissues. The whole-body transcript levels of these two genes vary over the course of pregnancy. A set of three AQPs (gmmaqp5, gmmaqp2a, and gmmaqp4b) are expressed highly in the Malpighian tubules. Knockdown of gmmdripa and gmmdripb reduced the efficiency of water loss following a blood meal, increased dehydration tolerance and reduced heat tolerance of adult females. Knockdown of gmmdripa extended pregnancy length, and gmmdripb knockdown resulted in extended pregnancy duration and reduced progeny production. We found that knockdown of AQPs increased tsetse milk osmolality and reduced the water content in developing larva. Combined knockdown of gmmdripa, gmmdripb and gmmaqp5 extended pregnancy by 4–6 d, reduced pupal production by nearly 50%, increased milk osmolality by 20–25% and led to dehydration of feeding larvae. Based on these results, we conclude that gmmDripA and gmmDripB are critical for diuresis, stress tolerance and intrauterine lactation through the regulation of water and/or other uncharged solutes.
Author Summary
Glossina sp. are responsible for transmission of African trypanosomes, the causative agents of sleeping sickness in humans and Nagana in cattle. Blood feeding and nutrient provisioning through lactation during intrauterine progeny development are periods when considerable water movement occurs within tsetse flies. With the completion of the tsetse fly genome, we sought to characterize the role of aquaporins in relation water homeostasis during blood feeding, stress tolerance and the lactation cycle. We provide evidence that specific AQPs are 1. critical during diuresis following a bloodmeal, 2. important in the regulation of dehydration resistance and heat tolerance and 3. crucial in the allocation of water within tsetse milk that is necessary for progeny hydration. Specifically, we discovered a novel tsetse AQP that is imperative to lactation and may represent a potential target for population control of this disease vector.
PMCID: PMC3998938  PMID: 24762803
3.  Infections with Immunogenic Trypanosomes Reduce Tsetse Reproductive Fitness: Potential Impact of Different Parasite Strains on Vector Population Structure 
The parasite Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense and its insect vector Glossina morsitans morsitans were used to evaluate the effect of parasite clearance (resistance) as well as the cost of midgut infections on tsetse host fitness. Tsetse flies are viviparous and have a low reproductive capacity, giving birth to only 6–8 progeny during their lifetime. Thus, small perturbations to their reproductive fitness can have a major impact on population densities. We measured the fecundity (number of larval progeny deposited) and mortality in parasite-resistant tsetse females and untreated controls and found no differences. There was, however, a typanosome-specific impact on midgut infections. Infections with an immunogenic parasite line that resulted in prolonged activation of the tsetse immune system delayed intrauterine larval development resulting in the production of fewer progeny over the fly's lifetime. In contrast, parasitism with a second line that failed to activate the immune system did not impose a fecundity cost. Coinfections favored the establishment of the immunogenic parasites in the midgut. We show that a decrease in the synthesis of Glossina Milk gland protein (GmmMgp), a major female accessory gland protein associated with larvagenesis, likely contributed to the reproductive lag observed in infected flies. Mathematical analysis of our empirical results indicated that infection with the immunogenic trypanosomes reduced tsetse fecundity by 30% relative to infections with the non-immunogenic strain. We estimate that a moderate infection prevalence of about 26% with immunogenic parasites has the potential to reduce tsetse populations. Potential repercussions for vector population growth, parasite–host coevolution, and disease prevalence are discussed.
Author Summary
In many cases, parasites adapt to their hosts' biology over time and the extent of their harmful effects gradually diminishes. Insect-transmitted parasites such as African trypanosomes, however, are unusually pathogenic for their mammalian hosts because they rely on their invertebrate hosts for transmission to the next mammalian host. To ensure their maximum transmission, it is essential that parasite infections do not compromise insect host's fitness traits, including longevity and host-finding ability. Our results in tsetse indicate that, as theory predicts, trypanosome infections do not reduce host longevity. Instead, they divert host resources from reproduction and can reduce reproductive output by as much as 30%. Such loss of reproductive fitness occurs as a result of the induction of tsetse's immune responses. A closely related non-immunogenic parasite line does not induce host responses and does not compromise host fecundity. It is possible that host immune responses are needed in the case of the immunogenic line to control the parasite density to prevent excessive host damage. Because tsetse are viviparous and each adult female typically gives rise to only few progeny during their lifetime, even modest costs on reproduction can have a significant impact on host abundance. Our model predicts that if the prevalence of immunogenic parasite infections in tsetse populations reaches over 26%, they begin to have a negative impact on population growth rate. Infection rates as high as 30% have been reported with trypanosomes in the field. Our laboratory findings coupled with our modeling studies now provide a framework to investigate the status of co-infections, host immune activation processes, fecundity outcomes, transmission dynamics, and host virulence phenotypes in natural tsetse–trypanosome populations.
PMCID: PMC2265429  PMID: 18335067
4.  Molecular aspects of viviparous reproductive biology of the tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans morsitans): Regulation of yolk and milk gland protein synthesis 
Journal of insect physiology  2006;52(11-12):1128-1136.
Tsetse fly (Diptera: Glossinidae) viviparous reproductive physiology remains to be explored at the molecular level. Adult females carry their young in utero for the duration of embryonic and larval development, all the while supplying their offspring with nutrients in the form of a “milk” substance secreted from a modified accessory gland. Flies give birth to fully developed third instar larvae that pupariate shortly after birth. Here, we describe the spatial and temporal expression dynamics of two reproduction-associated genes and their products synthesized during the first and second gonotrophic cycles. The proteins studied include a putative yolk protein, Glossina morsitans morsitans yolk protein 1 (GmmYP1) and the major protein found in tsetse “milk” secretions (Glossina morsitans morsitans milk gland protein, GmmMGP). Developmental stage and tissue-specific expression of GmmYP1 show its presence exclusively in the reproductive tract of the fly during oogenesis, suggesting that GmmYP1 acts as a vitellogenic protein. Transcripts for GmmMGP are present only in the milk gland tissue and increase in coordination with the process of larvigenesis. Similarly, GmmMGP can be detected at the onset of larvigenesis in the milk gland, and is present during the full duration of pregnancy. Expression of GmmMGP is restricted to the adult stage and is not detected in the immature developmental stages. These phenomena indicate that the protein is transferred from mother to larvae as nourishment during its development. These results demonstrate that both GmmYP1 and GmmMGP are involved in tsetse reproductive biology, the former associated with the process of oogenesis and the latter with larvigenesis.
PMCID: PMC1779500  PMID: 17046784
Viviparous reproduction; Oogenesis; Larvagenesis; Tsetse; Milk gland
5.  Insights into the Trypanosome-Host Interactions Revealed through Transcriptomic Analysis of Parasitized Tsetse Fly Salivary Glands 
The agents of sleeping sickness disease, Trypanosoma brucei complex parasites, are transmitted to mammalian hosts through the bite of an infected tsetse. Information on tsetse-trypanosome interactions in the salivary gland (SG) tissue, and on mammalian infective metacyclic (MC) parasites present in the SG, is sparse. We performed RNA-seq analyses from uninfected and T. b. brucei infected SGs of Glossina morsitans morsitans. Comparison of the SG transcriptomes to a whole body fly transcriptome revealed that only 2.7% of the contigs are differentially expressed during SG infection, and that only 263 contigs (0.6%) are preferentially expressed in the SGs (SG-enriched). The expression of only 37 contigs (0.08%) and 27 SG-enriched contigs (10%) were suppressed in infected SG. These suppressed contigs accounted for over 55% of the SG transcriptome, and included the most abundant putative secreted proteins with anti-hemostatic functions present in saliva. In contrast, expression of putative host proteins associated with immunity, stress, cell division and tissue remodeling were enriched in infected SG suggesting that parasite infections induce host immune and stress response(s) that likely results in tissue renewal. We also performed RNA-seq analysis from mouse blood infected with the same parasite strain, and compared the transcriptome of bloodstream form (BSF) cells with that of parasites obtained from the infected SG. Over 30% of parasite transcripts are differentially regulated between the two stages, and reflect parasite adaptations to varying host nutritional and immune ecology. These differences are associated with the switch from an amino acid based metabolism in the SG to one based on glucose utilization in the blood, and with surface coat modifications that enable parasite survival in the different hosts. This study provides a foundation on the molecular aspects of the trypanosome dialogue with its tsetse and mammalian hosts, necessary for future functional investigations.
Author Summary
Tsetse flies transmit the causative agents of African sleeping sickness and nagana in sub-Saharan Africa. The parasites are acquired when tsetse flies feed on an infected host, undergo multiplication in the fly gut and migrate to the salivary glands (SG). The cycle resumes once this infected fly transmits the parasites in conjunction with saliva to another host when feeding. We compared gene expression changes between parasitized and uninfected tsetse SG. We also assessed changes in parasite gene expression in the tsetse SG in relation to those present within vertebrate blood. We found that parasite infections increase expression of host proteins associated with stress and cell division, indicative of extensive cellular damage in SG. We also found that parasite infections reduce expression of the most highly expressed SG-specific secreted proteins, suggesting modification of saliva composition. The parasite transcriptome reveals changes in specific cell surface proteins and in metabolism related to glucose-amino acid utilization in the different host environments. This study provides information for critical understanding of tsetse-trypanosome interactions, and transcriptional changes that likely enable the parasite to persist in the varying environment of its insect and vertebrate hosts.
PMCID: PMC3998935  PMID: 24763140
6.  The Salivary Secretome of the Tsetse Fly Glossina pallidipes (Diptera: Glossinidae) Infected by Salivary Gland Hypertrophy Virus 
The competence of the tsetse fly Glossina pallidipes (Diptera; Glossinidae) to acquire salivary gland hypertrophy virus (SGHV), to support virus replication and successfully transmit the virus depends on complex interactions between Glossina and SGHV macromolecules. Critical requisites to SGHV transmission are its replication and secretion of mature virions into the fly's salivary gland (SG) lumen. However, secretion of host proteins is of equal importance for successful transmission and requires cataloging of G. pallidipes secretome proteins from hypertrophied and non-hypertrophied SGs.
Methodology/Principal Findings
After electrophoretic profiling and in-gel trypsin digestion, saliva proteins were analyzed by nano-LC-MS/MS. MaxQuant/Andromeda search of the MS data against the non-redundant (nr) GenBank database and a G. morsitans morsitans SG EST database, yielded a total of 521 hits, 31 of which were SGHV-encoded. On a false discovery rate limit of 1% and detection threshold of least 2 unique peptides per protein, the analysis resulted in 292 Glossina and 25 SGHV MS-supported proteins. When annotated by the Blast2GO suite, at least one gene ontology (GO) term could be assigned to 89.9% (285/317) of the detected proteins. Five (∼1.8%) Glossina and three (∼12%) SGHV proteins remained without a predicted function after blast searches against the nr database. Sixty-five of the 292 detected Glossina proteins contained an N-terminal signal/secretion peptide sequence. Eight of the SGHV proteins were predicted to be non-structural (NS), and fourteen are known structural (VP) proteins.
SGHV alters the protein expression pattern in Glossina. The G. pallidipes SG secretome encompasses a spectrum of proteins that may be required during the SGHV infection cycle. These detected proteins have putative interactions with at least 21 of the 25 SGHV-encoded proteins. Our findings opens venues for developing novel SGHV mitigation strategies to block SGHV infections in tsetse production facilities such as using SGHV-specific antibodies and phage display-selected gut epithelia-binding peptides.
Author Summary
Tsetse fly (Diptera; Glossinidae) transmits two devastating diseases to farmers (human African Trypanosomiasis; HAT) and their livestock (Animal African Trypanosomiasis; AAT) in 37 sub-Saharan African countries. During the rainy seasons, vast areas of fertile, arable land remain uncultivated as farmers flee their homes due to the presence of tsetse. Available drugs against trypanosomiasis are ineffective and difficult to administer. Control of the tsetse vector by Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) has been effective. This method involves repeated release of sterilized males into wild tsetse populations, which compete with wild type males for females. Upon mating, there is no offspring, leading to reduction in tsetse populations and thus relief from trypanosomiasis. The SIT method requires large-scale tsetse rearing to produce sterile males. However, tsetse colony productivity is hampered by infections with the salivary gland hypertrophy virus, which is transmitted via saliva as flies take blood meals during membrane feeding and often leads to colony collapse. Here, we investigated the salivary gland secretome proteins of virus-infected tsetse to broaden our understanding of virus infection, transmission and pathology. By this approach, we obtain insight in tsetse-hytrosavirus interactions and identified potential candidate proteins as targets for developing biotechnological strategies to control viral infections in tsetse colonies.
PMCID: PMC3222630  PMID: 22132244
7.  Tsetse Immune System Maturation Requires the Presence of Obligate Symbionts in Larvae 
PLoS Biology  2011;9(5):e1000619.
Tsetse harbors an obligate symbiont, Wigglesworthia glossinidia, that must be present during larval maturation for the fly's immune system to develop and function properly during adulthood.
Beneficial microbial symbionts serve important functions within their hosts, including dietary supplementation and maintenance of immune system homeostasis. Little is known about the mechanisms that enable these bacteria to induce specific host phenotypes during development and into adulthood. Here we used the tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans, and its obligate mutualist, Wigglesworthia glossinidia, to investigate the co-evolutionary adaptations that influence the development of host physiological processes. Wigglesworthia is maternally transmitted to tsetse's intrauterine larvae through milk gland secretions. We can produce flies that lack Wigglesworthia (GmmWgm−) yet retain their other symbiotic microbes. Such offspring give rise to adults that exhibit a largely normal phenotype, with the exception being that they are reproductively sterile. Our results indicate that when reared under normal environmental conditions GmmWgm− adults are also immuno-compromised and highly susceptible to hemocoelic E. coli infections while age-matched wild-type individuals are refractory. Adults that lack Wigglesworthia during larval development exhibit exceptionally compromised cellular and humoral immune responses following microbial challenge, including reduced expression of genes that encode antimicrobial peptides (cecropin and attacin), hemocyte-mediated processes (thioester-containing proteins 2 and 4 and prophenoloxidase), and signal-mediating molecules (inducible nitric oxide synthase). Furthermore, GmmWgm− adults harbor a reduced population of sessile and circulating hemocytes, a phenomenon that likely results from a significant decrease in larval expression of serpent and lozenge, both of which are associated with the process of early hemocyte differentiation. Our results demonstrate that Wigglesworthia must be present during the development of immature progeny in order for the immune system to function properly in adult tsetse. This phenomenon provides evidence of yet another important physiological adaptation that further anchors the obligate symbiosis between tsetse and Wigglesworthia.
Author Summary
Beneficial bacterial symbionts, which are ubiquitous in nature, are often characterized by the extent to which they interact with the host. In the case of mutualistic symbioses, both partners benefit so that each one can inhabit diverse ecological niches where neither could survive on its own. Unfortunately, little is known about the functional mechanisms that underlie mutualistic relationships. Insects represent a group of advanced multi-cellular organisms that harbor well-documented symbiotic associations. One such insect, the tsetse fly, harbors a maternally transmitted bacterial mutualist called Wigglesworthia that provides its host with essential metabolites missing from its vertebrate blood-specific diet. In this study, we further examine the relationship between tsetse and Wigglesworthia by investigating the interaction between this bacterium and its host's immune system. We have found that when Wigglesworthia is absent from tsetse during the maturation of immature larval stages, subsequent adults are characterized by an underdeveloped cellular immune system and thus highly susceptible to infection with a normally non-pathogenic foreign microbe. These findings represent an additional adaptation that further anchors the steadfast relationship shared between tsetse and its obligate symbiont.
PMCID: PMC3104962  PMID: 21655301
8.  Insight into the Transmission Biology and Species-Specific Functional Capabilities of Tsetse (Diptera: Glossinidae) Obligate Symbiont Wigglesworthia 
mBio  2012;3(1):e00240-11.
Ancient endosymbionts have been associated with extreme genome structural stability with little differentiation in gene inventory between sister species. Tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) harbor an obligate endosymbiont, Wigglesworthia, which has coevolved with the Glossina radiation. We report on the ~720-kb Wigglesworthia genome and its associated plasmid from Glossina morsitans morsitans and compare them to those of the symbiont from Glossina brevipalpis. While there was overall high synteny between the two genomes, a large inversion was noted. Furthermore, symbiont transcriptional analyses demonstrated host tissue and development-specific gene expression supporting robust transcriptional regulation in Wigglesworthia, an unprecedented observation in other obligate mutualist endosymbionts. Expression and immunohistochemistry confirmed the role of flagella during the vertical transmission process from mother to intrauterine progeny. The expression of nutrient provisioning genes (thiC and hemH) suggests that Wigglesworthia may function in dietary supplementation tailored toward host development. Furthermore, despite extensive conservation, unique genes were identified within both symbiont genomes that may result in distinct metabolomes impacting host physiology. One of these differences involves the chorismate, phenylalanine, and folate biosynthetic pathways, which are uniquely present in Wigglesworthia morsitans. Interestingly, African trypanosomes are auxotrophs for phenylalanine and folate and salvage both exogenously. It is possible that W. morsitans contributes to the higher parasite susceptibility of its host species.
Genomic stasis has historically been associated with obligate endosymbionts and their sister species. Here we characterize the Wigglesworthia genome of the tsetse fly species Glossina morsitans and compare it to its sister genome within G. brevipalpis. The similarity and variation between the genomes enabled specific hypotheses regarding functional biology. Expression analyses indicate significant levels of transcriptional regulation and support development- and tissue-specific functional roles for the symbiosis previously not observed in obligate mutualist symbionts. Retention of the genetically expensive flagella within these small genomes was demonstrated to be significant in symbiont transmission and tailored to the unique tsetse fly reproductive biology. Distinctions in metabolomes were also observed. We speculate an additional role for Wigglesworthia symbiosis where infections with pathogenic trypanosomes may depend upon symbiont species-specific metabolic products and thus influence the vector competence traits of different tsetse fly host species.
PMCID: PMC3280448  PMID: 22334516
9.  Description of a Nanobody-based Competitive Immunoassay to Detect Tsetse Fly Exposure 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(2):e0003456.
Tsetse flies are the main vectors of human and animal African trypanosomes. The Tsal proteins in tsetse fly saliva were previously identified as suitable biomarkers of bite exposure. A new competitive assay was conceived based on nanobody (Nb) technology to ameliorate the detection of anti-Tsal antibodies in mammalian hosts.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A camelid-derived Nb library was generated against the Glossina morsitans morsitans sialome and exploited to select Tsal specific Nbs. One of the three identified Nb families (family III, TsalNb-05 and TsalNb-11) was found suitable for anti-Tsal antibody detection in a competitive ELISA format. The competitive ELISA was able to detect exposure to a broad range of tsetse species (G. morsitans morsitans, G. pallidipes, G. palpalis gambiensis and G. fuscipes) and did not cross-react with the other hematophagous insects (Stomoxys calcitrans and Tabanus yao). Using a collection of plasmas from tsetse-exposed pigs, the new test characteristics were compared with those of the previously described G. m. moristans and rTsal1 indirect ELISAs, revealing equally good specificities (> 95%) and positive predictive values (> 98%) but higher negative predictive values and hence increased sensitivity (> 95%) and accuracy (> 95%).
We have developed a highly accurate Nb-based competitive immunoassay to detect specific anti-Tsal antibodies induced by various tsetse fly species in a range of hosts. We propose that this competitive assay provides a simple serological indicator of tsetse fly presence without the requirement of test adaptation to the vertebrate host species. In addition, the use of monoclonal Nbs for antibody detection is innovative and could be applied to other tsetse fly salivary biomarkers in order to achieve a multi-target immunoprofiling of hosts. In addition, this approach could be broadened to other pathogenic organisms for which accurate serological diagnosis remains a bottleneck.
Author Summary
Our previous studies have revealed that the saliva of the savannah tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans morsitans) and the main constituting Tsal proteins are sensitive immunological probes to detect contact with tsetse flies. A nanobody (Nb) library was generated against tsetse salivary gland proteins and used to select Nbs against the highly immunogenic Tsal proteins by a procedure of phage display and selection for binding onto the recombinant Tsal proteins. One Nb family was identified with the appropriate characteristics for the development of a competitive assay to detect Tsal-specific antibodies raised by the mammalian host when exposed to tsetse fly bites. In this immunoassay, exposure was detected by the inhibition of Nb binding by tsetse fly saliva induced antibodies in plasma. Evaluation of the competitive ELISA test using a set of porcine plasmas revealed an improved accuracy as compared to previously described tests. Moreover, the advantage of this assay is that it does not require adaptation to the sampled host species. We propose the Nb-based competitive ELISA as an additional tool to the indirect ELISA to serologically detect tsetse bite exposure and to monitor the impact of vector control programs and to detect re-invasion of cleared areas by tsetse flies on the African continent. In addition, the concept of using Nbs for the development of competitive antibody detection tests is innovative and broadens the scope of medical diagnostic applications of Nbs.
PMCID: PMC4320081  PMID: 25658871
10.  A Novel Highly Divergent Protein Family Identified from a Viviparous Insect by RNA-seq Analysis: A Potential Target for Tsetse Fly-Specific Abortifacients 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(4):e1003874.
In tsetse flies, nutrients for intrauterine larval development are synthesized by the modified accessory gland (milk gland) and provided in mother's milk during lactation. Interference with at least two milk proteins has been shown to extend larval development and reduce fecundity. The goal of this study was to perform a comprehensive characterization of tsetse milk proteins using lactation-specific transcriptome/milk proteome analyses and to define functional role(s) for the milk proteins during lactation. Differential analysis of RNA-seq data from lactating and dry (non-lactating) females revealed enrichment of transcripts coding for protein synthesis machinery, lipid metabolism and secretory proteins during lactation. Among the genes induced during lactation were those encoding the previously identified milk proteins (milk gland proteins 1–3, transferrin and acid sphingomyelinase 1) and seven new genes (mgp4–10). The genes encoding mgp2–10 are organized on a 40 kb syntenic block in the tsetse genome, have similar exon-intron arrangements, and share regions of amino acid sequence similarity. Expression of mgp2–10 is female-specific and high during milk secretion. While knockdown of a single mgp failed to reduce fecundity, simultaneous knockdown of multiple variants reduced milk protein levels and lowered fecundity. The genomic localization, gene structure similarities, and functional redundancy of MGP2–10 suggest that they constitute a novel highly divergent protein family. Our data indicates that MGP2–10 function both as the primary amino acid resource for the developing larva and in the maintenance of milk homeostasis, similar to the function of the mammalian casein family of milk proteins. This study underscores the dynamic nature of the lactation cycle and identifies a novel family of lactation-specific proteins, unique to Glossina sp., that are essential to larval development. The specificity of MGP2–10 to tsetse and their critical role during lactation suggests that these proteins may be an excellent target for tsetse-specific population control approaches.
Author Summary
Tsetse flies are the sole vector for African trypanosomes, causative agents of sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in cattle. Transcriptome and proteome analyses were utilized to examine the underlying mechanisms of tsetse lactation that occur during each reproductive cycle. These analyses revealed a dramatic shift to the synthesis of milk proteins during lactation and a novel milk-specific protein family. All members of this family were co-localized, shared sequence similarity and were expressed at 40× basal levels during milk secretion. Suppression of gene from this lactation-associated family impaired progeny development by reducing milk protein content and altering milk homeostasis. These novel genes represent an excellent target for tsetse-specific reproductive-based control mechanisms. In addition, the characterization of tsetse milk production revealed multiple factors that are functionally analogous between tsetse and mammalian lactation.
PMCID: PMC3998918  PMID: 24763277
11.  Identification of a Tsetse Fly Salivary Protein with Dual Inhibitory Action on Human Platelet Aggregation 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9671.
Tsetse flies (Glossina sp.), the African trypanosome vectors, rely on anti-hemostatic compounds for efficient blood feeding. Despite their medical importance, very few salivary proteins have been characterized and functionally annotated.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we report on the functional characterisation of a 5′nucleotidase-related (5′Nuc) saliva protein of the tsetse fly Glossina morsitans morsitans. This protein is encoded by a 1668 bp cDNA corresponding at the genomic level with a single-copy 4 kb gene that is exclusively transcribed in the tsetse salivary gland tissue. The encoded 5′Nuc protein is a soluble 65 kDa glycosylated compound of tsetse saliva with a dual anti-hemostatic action that relies on its combined apyrase activity and fibrinogen receptor (GPIIb/IIIa) antagonistic properties. Experimental evidence is based on the biochemical and functional characterization of recombinant protein and on the successful silencing of the 5′nuc translation in the salivary gland by RNA interference (RNAi). Refolding of a 5′Nuc/SUMO-fusion protein yielded an active apyrase enzyme with Km and Vmax values of 43±4 µM and 684±49 nmol Pi/min×mg for ATPase and 49±11 µM and 177±37 nmol Pi/min×mg for the ADPase activity. In addition, recombinant 5′Nuc was found to bind to GPIIb/IIIa with an apparent KD of 92±25 nM. Consistent with these features, 5′Nuc potently inhibited ADP-induced thrombocyte aggregation and even caused disaggregation of ADP-triggered human platelets. The importance of 5′Nuc for the tsetse fly hematophagy was further illustrated by specific RNAi that reduced the anti-thrombotic activities in saliva by approximately 50% resulting in a disturbed blood feeding process.
These data show that this 5′nucleotidase-related apyrase exhibits GPIIb/IIIa antagonistic properties and represents a key thromboregulatory compound of tsetse fly saliva.
PMCID: PMC2843633  PMID: 20351782
12.  Odorant and Gustatory Receptors in the Tsetse Fly Glossina morsitans morsitans 
Tsetse flies use olfactory and gustatory responses, through odorant and gustatory receptors (ORs and GRs), to interact with their environment. Glossina morsitans morsitans genome ORs and GRs were annotated using homologs of these genes in Drosophila melanogaster and an ab initio approach based on OR and GR specific motifs in G. m. morsitans gene models coupled to gene ontology (GO). Phylogenetic relationships among the ORs or GRs and the homologs were determined using Maximum Likelihood estimates. Relative expression levels among the G. m. morsitans ORs or GRs were established using RNA-seq data derived from adult female fly. Overall, 46 and 14 putative G. m. morsitans ORs and GRs respectively were recovered. These were reduced by 12 and 59 ORs and GRs respectively compared to D. melanogaster. Six of the ORs were homologous to a single D. melanogaster OR (DmOr67d) associated with mating deterrence in females. Sweet taste GRs, present in all the other Diptera, were not recovered in G. m. morsitans. The GRs associated with detection of CO2 were conserved in G. m. morsitans relative to D. melanogaster. RNA-sequence data analysis revealed expression of GmmOR15 locus represented over 90% of expression profiles for the ORs. The G. m. morsitans ORs or GRs were phylogenetically closer to those in D. melanogaster than to other insects assessed. We found the chemoreceptor repertoire in G. m. morsitans smaller than other Diptera, and we postulate that this may be related to the restricted diet of blood-meal for both sexes of tsetse flies. However, the clade of some specific receptors has been expanded, indicative of their potential importance in chemoreception in the tsetse.
Author Summary
Tsetse flies navigate their environments using chemosensory receptors, which permit them to locate hosts, mating partners, and resting and larviposition sites. The genome of G. m. morsitans was interrogated for coding genes of odorant receptors (ORs) and gustatory receptors (GRs) that express in antennae and maxillary palp, and detect the volatile and soluble chemical signals. The signals are then transmitted to the central nervous system and translated to phenotypes. Majority of these genes in G. m. morsitans were spread across different scaffolds, but a few were found to occur in clusters, which suggested possible co-regulation of their expression. The number of ORs and GRs were much reduced in the G. m. morsitans genome, including the apparent loss of receptors for sugar when compared to selected Diptera. There was also an apparent numerical expansion of some receptors, presumably to maximize on their restricted blood-meal diet. The annotation of the chemoreceptor package of G. m. morsitans provides a resource for investigating key activities of tsetse flies that could be exploited for their control.
PMCID: PMC3998910  PMID: 24763191
13.  Tsetse GmmSRPN10 Has Anti-complement Activity and Is Important for Successful Establishment of Trypanosome Infections in the Fly Midgut 
The complement cascade in mammalian blood can damage the alimentary tract of haematophagous arthropods. As such, these animals have evolved their own repertoire of complement-inactivating factors, which are inadvertently exploited by blood-borne pathogens to escape complement lysis. Unlike the bloodstream stages, the procyclic (insect) stage of Trypanosoma brucei is highly susceptible to complement killing, which is puzzling considering that a tsetse takes a bloodmeal every 2–4 days. In this study, we identified four tsetse (Glossina morsitans morsitans) serine protease inhibitors (serpins) from a midgut expressed sequence tag (EST) library (GmmSRPN3, GmmSRPN5, GmmSRPN9 and GmmSRPN10) and investigated their role in modulating the establishment of a T. brucei infection in the midgut. Although not having evolved in a common blood-feeding ancestor, all four serpins have an active site sharing remarkable homology with the human complement C1-inhibitor serpin, SerpinG1. RNAi knockdown of individual GmmSRPN9 and GmmSRPN10 genes resulted in a significant decreased rate of infection by procyclic form T. brucei. Furthermore, recombinant GmmSRPN10 was both able to inhibit the activity of human complement-cascade serine proteases, C1s and Factor D, and to protect the in vitro killing of procyclic trypanosomes when incubated with complement-activated human serum. Thus, the secretion of serpins, which may be part of a bloodmeal complement inactivation system in tsetse, is used by procyclic trypanosomes to evade an influx of fresh trypanolytic complement with each bloodmeal. This highlights another facet of the complicated relationship between T. brucei and its tsetse vector, where the parasite takes advantage of tsetse physiology to further its chances of propagation and transmission.
Author Summary
Blood feeding arthropods are exploited by blood borne parasites as vectors of transmission. Trypanosoma brucei, a salivarian trypanosome species, must survive, migrate and differentiate in the tsetse until they become mature, mammalian-infective forms within the fly salivary glands. This constitutes a significant challenge to trypanosomes as the major parasite form colonising the tsetse midgut is sensitive to lysis by blood complement, which is introduced into the tsetse gut whenever the fly feeds. In this study, we show that T. brucei may avoid being eliminated by bloodmeal complement by benefitting from a complement-inhibiting enzyme secreted by the fly itself. We showed that this serine protease inhibitor (serpin) enzyme, Serpin10, can inactivate triggers of the complement cascade, protect tsetse-infective trypanosomes from complement lysis, and is important for trypanosome establishment in the tsetse midgut. Taken together, we propose that GmmSRPN10 may be part of a repertoire of complement-inhibiting proteins secreted by tsetse that are utilized by T. brucei to evade complement lysis in the tsetse midgut.
PMCID: PMC4287558  PMID: 25569180
14.  Lipophorin acts as a shuttle of lipids to the milk gland during tsetse fly pregnancy 
Journal of insect physiology  2011;57(11):1553-1561.
During pregnancy in the viviparous tsetse fly, lipid mobilization is essential for the production of milk to feed the developing intrauterine larva. Lipophorin (Lp) functions as the major lipid transport protein in insects and closely-related arthropods. In this study, we assessed the role of Lp and the lipophorin receptor (LpR) in the lipid mobilization process during tsetse reproduction. We identified single gene sequences for GmmLp and GmmLpR from the genome of Glossina morsitans morsitans, and measured spatial and temporal expression of gmmlp and gmmlpr during the female reproductive cycle. Our results show that expression of gmmlp is specific to the adult fat body and larvae. In the adult female, gmmlp expression is constitutive. However transcript levels increase in the larva as it matures within the mother’s uterus, reaching peak expression just prior to parturition. GmmLp was detected in the hemolymph of pregnant females and larvae, but not in the uterine fluid or larval gut contents ruling out the possibility of direct transfer of GmmLp from mother to offspring. Transcripts for gmmlpr were detected in the head, ovaries, midgut, milk gland/fat body, ovaries and developing larva. Levels of gmmlpr remain stable throughout the first and second gonotrophic cycles with a slight dip observed during the first gonotrophic cycle. GmmLpR was detected in multiple tissues, including the midgut, fat body, milk gland, spermatheca and head. Knockdown of gmmlp by RNA interference resulted in reduced hemolymph lipid levels, delayed oocyte development and extended larval gestation. Similar suppresion of gmmlpr did not significantly reduce hemolymph lipid levels or oogenesis duration, but did extend the duration of larval development. Thus, GmmLp and GmmLpR function as the primary shuttle for lipids originating from the midgut and fat body to the ovaries and milk gland to supply resources for developing oocytes and larval nourishment, respectively. Once in the milk gland however, lipids are apparently transferred into the developing larva not by lipophorin but by another carrier lipoprotein.
PMCID: PMC3209505  PMID: 21875592
Lipid movement; lipophorin; tsetse development; Glossina
15.  An insight into the sialome of Glossina morsitans morsitans 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:213.
Blood feeding evolved independently in worms, arthropods and mammals. Among the adaptations to this peculiar diet, these animals developed an armament of salivary molecules that disarm their host's anti-bleeding defenses (hemostasis), inflammatory and immune reactions. Recent sialotranscriptome analyses (from the Greek sialo = saliva) of blood feeding insects and ticks have revealed that the saliva contains hundreds of polypeptides, many unique to their genus or family. Adult tsetse flies feed exclusively on vertebrate blood and are important vectors of human and animal diseases. Thus far, only limited information exists regarding the Glossina sialome, or any other fly belonging to the Hippoboscidae.
As part of the effort to sequence the genome of Glossina morsitans morsitans, several organ specific, high quality normalized cDNA libraries have been constructed, from which over 20,000 ESTs from an adult salivary gland library were sequenced. These ESTs have been assembled using previously described ESTs from the fat body and midgut libraries of the same fly, thus totaling 62,251 ESTs, which have been assembled into 16,743 clusters (8,506 of which had one or more EST from the salivary gland library). Coding sequences were obtained for 2,509 novel proteins, 1,792 of which had at least one EST expressed in the salivary glands. Despite library normalization, 59 transcripts were overrepresented in the salivary library indicating high levels of expression. This work presents a detailed analysis of the salivary protein families identified. Protein expression was confirmed by 2D gel electrophoresis, enzymatic digestion and mass spectrometry. Concurrently, an initial attempt to determine the immunogenic properties of selected salivary proteins was undertaken.
The sialome of G. m. morsitans contains over 250 proteins that are possibly associated with blood feeding. This set includes alleles of previously described gene products, reveals new evidence that several salivary proteins are multigenic and identifies at least seven new polypeptide families unique to Glossina. Most of these proteins have no known function and thus, provide a discovery platform for the identification of novel pharmacologically active compounds, innovative vector-based vaccine targets, and immunological markers of vector exposure.
PMCID: PMC2853526  PMID: 20353571
16.  Genome Sequence of the Tsetse Fly (Glossina morsitans): Vector of African Trypanosomiasis 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2014;344(6182):380-386.
Tsetse flies are the sole vectors of human African trypanosomiasis throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Both sexes of adult tsetse feed exclusively on blood and contribute to disease transmission. Notable differences between tsetse and other disease vectors include obligate microbial symbioses, viviparous reproduction, and lactation. Here, we describe the sequence and annotation of the 366-megabase Glossina morsitans morsitans genome. Analysis of the genome and the 12,308 predicted protein–encoding genes led to multiple discoveries, including chromosomal integrations of bacterial (Wolbachia) genome sequences, a family of lactation-specific proteins, reduced complement of host pathogen recognition proteins, and reduced olfaction/chemosensory associated genes. These genome data provide a foundation for research into trypanosomiasis prevention and yield important insights with broad implications for multiple aspects of tsetse biology.
PMCID: PMC4077534  PMID: 24763584
17.  Interspecific Transfer of Bacterial Endosymbionts between Tsetse Fly Species: Infection Establishment and Effect on Host Fitness▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2006;72(11):7013-7021.
Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) can harbor up to three distinct species of endosymbiotic bacteria that exhibit unique modes of transmission and evolutionary histories with their host. Two mutualist enterics, Wigglesworthia and Sodalis, are transmitted maternally to tsetse flies' intrauterine larvae. The third symbiont, from the genus Wolbachia, parasitizes developing oocytes. In this study, we determined that Sodalis isolates from several tsetse fly species are virtually identical based on a phylogenetic analysis of their ftsZ gene sequences. Furthermore, restriction fragment-length polymorphism analysis revealed little variation in the genomes of Sodalis isolates from tsetse fly species within different subgenera (Glossina fuscipes fuscipes and Glossina morsitans morsitans). We also examined the impact on host fitness of transinfecting G. fuscipes fuscipes and G. morsitans morsitans flies with reciprocal Sodalis strains. Tsetse flies cleared of their native Sodalis symbionts were successfully repopulated with the Sodalis species isolated from a different tsetse fly species. These transinfected flies effectively transmitted the novel symbionts to their offspring and experienced no detrimental fitness effects compared to their wild-type counterparts, as measured by longevity and fecundity. Quantitative PCR analysis revealed that transinfected flies maintained their Sodalis populations at densities comparable to those in flies harboring native symbionts. Our ability to transinfect tsetse flies is indicative of Sodalis ' recent evolutionary history with its tsetse fly host and demonstrates that this procedure may be used as a means of streamlining future paratransgenesis experiments.
PMCID: PMC1636136  PMID: 16950907
18.  Transcript Expression Analysis of Putative Trypanosoma brucei GPI-Anchored Surface Proteins during Development in the Tsetse and Mammalian Hosts 
Human African Trypanosomiasis is a devastating disease caused by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei. Trypanosomes live extracellularly in both the tsetse fly and the mammal. Trypanosome surface proteins can directly interact with the host environment, allowing parasites to effectively establish and maintain infections. Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchoring is a common posttranslational modification associated with eukaryotic surface proteins. In T. brucei, three GPI-anchored major surface proteins have been identified: variant surface glycoproteins (VSGs), procyclic acidic repetitive protein (PARP or procyclins), and brucei alanine rich proteins (BARP). The objective of this study was to select genes encoding predicted GPI-anchored proteins with unknown function(s) from the T. brucei genome and characterize the expression profile of a subset during cyclical development in the tsetse and mammalian hosts. An initial in silico screen of putative T. brucei proteins by Big PI algorithm identified 163 predicted GPI-anchored proteins, 106 of which had no known functions. Application of a second GPI-anchor prediction algorithm (FragAnchor), signal peptide and trans-membrane domain prediction software resulted in the identification of 25 putative hypothetical proteins. Eighty-one gene products with hypothetical functions were analyzed for stage-regulated expression using semi-quantitative RT-PCR. The expression of most of these genes were found to be upregulated in trypanosomes infecting tsetse salivary gland and proventriculus tissues, and 38% were specifically expressed only by parasites infecting salivary gland tissues. Transcripts for all of the genes specifically expressed in salivary glands were also detected in mammalian infective metacyclic trypomastigotes, suggesting a possible role for these putative proteins in invasion and/or establishment processes in the mammalian host. These results represent the first large-scale report of the differential expression of unknown genes encoding predicted T. brucei surface proteins during the complete developmental cycle. This knowledge may form the foundation for the development of future novel transmission blocking strategies against metacyclic parasites.
Author Summary
Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) is a fatal disease caused by African trypanosomes and transmitted by an infected tsetse fly. Presently, there are no vaccines to prevent mammalian infections. Proteins expressed on the trypanosome surface can influence the host environment and allow for their transmission. Potentially accessible to the adaptive immune systems of vertebrate hosts, these proteins could serve as future vaccine targets. Identification and characterization of these currently unknown proteins can help us develop strategies to alter the host environment, making it inhospitable for the parasite, thereby reducing disease transmission. While there is extensive knowledge about trypanosome development in the mammalian host, less is known about the molecular events in the tsetse fly, particularly the salivary gland stages. We used an in silico approach to identify putative surface proteins from the known genome sequence of Trypanosoma brucei, and we describe the stage specific expression of these genes during development in the tsetse fly and mammalian host. Our findings show that a majority of unknown transcripts encoding predicted surface proteins are expressed by the parasites infecting tsetse salivary glands. These data will help focus future investigations into transmission-blocking approaches targeting the expressed antigens of trypanosomes infecting tsetse salivary glands.
PMCID: PMC3378594  PMID: 22724039
19.  Adenotrophic Viviparity in Tsetse Flies: Potential for Population Control and as an Insect Model for Lactation 
Annual review of entomology  2014;60:351-371.
Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.), vectors of African trypanosomes, are distinguished by their specialized reproductive biology, defined by adenotrophic viviparity (maternal nourishment of progeny by glandular secretions followed by live birth). This trait has evolved infrequently among insects and requires unique reproductive mechanisms. A key event in Glossina reproduction involves the transition between periods of lactation and nonlactation (dry periods). Increased lipolysis, nutrient transfer to the milk gland, and milk-specific protein production characterize lactation, which terminates at the birth of the progeny and is followed by a period of involution. The dry stage coincides with embryogenesis of the progeny, during which lipid reserves accumulate in preparation for the next round of lactation. The obligate bacterial symbiont Wigglesworthia glossinidia is critical to tsetse reproduction and likely provides B vitamins required for metabolic processes underlying lactation and/or progeny development. Here we describe findings that utilized transcriptomics, physiological assays, and RNA interference–based functional analysis to understand different components of adenotrophic viviparity in tsetse flies.
PMCID: PMC4453834  PMID: 25341093
Glossina; tsetse fly; lactation; adenotrophic viviparity; Wigglesworthia
20.  Serological Responses and Biomarker Evaluation in Mice and Pigs Exposed to Tsetse Fly Bites 
Tsetse flies are obligate blood-feeding insects that transmit African trypanosomes responsible for human sleeping sickness and nagana in livestock. The tsetse salivary proteome contains a highly immunogenic family of the endonuclease-like Tsal proteins. In this study, a recombinant version of Tsal1 (rTsal1) was evaluated in an indirect ELISA to quantify the contact with total Glossina morsitans morsitans saliva, and thus the tsetse fly bite exposure.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mice and pigs were experimentally exposed to different G. m. morsitans exposure regimens, followed by a long-term follow-up of the specific antibody responses against total tsetse fly saliva and rTsal1. In mice, a single tsetse fly bite was sufficient to induce detectable IgG antibody responses with an estimated half-life of 36–40 days. Specific antibody responses could be detected for more than a year after initial exposure, and a single bite was sufficient to boost anti-saliva immunity. Also, plasmas collected from tsetse-exposed pigs displayed increased anti-rTsal1 and anti-saliva IgG levels that correlated with the exposure intensity. A strong correlation between the detection of anti-rTsal1 and anti-saliva responses was recorded. The ELISA test performance and intra-laboratory repeatability was adequate in the two tested animal models. Cross-reactivity of the mouse IgGs induced by exposure to different Glossina species (G. m. morsitans, G. pallidipes, G. palpalis gambiensis and G. fuscipes) and other hematophagous insects (Stomoxys calcitrans and Tabanus yao) was evaluated.
This study illustrates the potential use of rTsal1 from G. m. morsitans as a sensitive biomarker of exposure to a broad range of Glossina species. We propose that the detection of anti-rTsal1 IgGs could be a promising serological indicator of tsetse fly presence that will be a valuable tool to monitor the impact of tsetse control efforts on the African continent.
Author Summary
Salivary proteins of hematophagous disease vectors represent potential biomarkers of exposure and could be used in serological assays that are complementary to entomological surveys. We illustrate that a recombinant version of the highly immunogenic Tsal1 protein of the savannah tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans morsitans) is a sensitive immunological probe to detect contact with tsetse flies. Experimental exposure of mice and pigs to different regimens of tsetse fly bites combined with serological testing revealed that rTsal1 is a sensitive indicator that can differentiate the various degrees of exposure of animals. Tsetse-induced antibodies persisted relatively long, and an efficient boosting of immunity was observed upon re-exposure. Recombinant Tsal1 is a promising candidate to detect contact with various tsetse species, which would enable screening of populations or herds for exposure to tsetse flies in various areas on the African continent. This exposure indicator could be a valuable tool to monitor the impact of vector control programs and to detect re-invasion of cleared areas by tsetse flies.
PMCID: PMC4031185  PMID: 24853371
21.  Molecular Characterization of Iron Binding Proteins from Glossina morsitans morsitans (Diptera: Glossinidae) 
The regulation of iron is critical for maintaining homeostasis in the tsetse fly (Diptera:Glossinidae), in which both adult sexes are strict blood feeders. We have characterized the cDNAs for two putative iron-binding proteins (IBP) involved in transport and storage; transferrin (GmmTsf1) and ferritin from Glossina morsitans morsitans. GmmTsf1 transcripts are detected in the female fat body and in adult reproductive tissues, and only in the adult developmental stage in a bloodmeal independent manner. In contrast, the ferritin heavy chain (GmmFer1HCH) and light chain (GmmFer2LCH) transcripts are expressed ubiquitously, suggesting a more general role for these proteins in iron transport and storage. Protein domain predictions for each IBP suggest both the conservation and loss of several motifs present in their vertebrate homologues. In concert with many other described insect transferrins, putative secreted GmmTsf1 maintains 3 of the 5 residues necessary for iron-binding in the N-terminal lobe, but exhibits a loss of this iron-binding ability in the C-terminal role as well as a loss of large sequence blocks. Both putative GmmFer1HCH and GmmFer2LCH proteins have signal peptides, similar to other insect ferritins. GmmFer2LCH has lost the 5’UTR iron-responsive element (IRE) and, thus, translation is no longer regulated by cellular iron levels. On the other hand, GmmFer1HCH maintains both the conserved ferroxidase center and the 5’UTR IRE; however, transcript variants suggest a more extensive regulatory mechanism for this subunit.
PMCID: PMC1698469  PMID: 17098167
Iron; ferritin; transferrin; Glossina morsitans morsitans
22.  Tsetse Salivary Gland Proteins 1 and 2 Are High Affinity Nucleic Acid Binding Proteins with Residual Nuclease Activity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47233.
Analysis of the tsetse fly salivary gland EST database revealed the presence of a highly enriched cluster of putative endonuclease genes, including tsal1 and tsal2. Tsal proteins are the major components of tsetse fly (G. morsitans morsitans) saliva where they are present as monomers as well as high molecular weight complexes with other saliva proteins. We demonstrate that the recombinant tsetse salivary gland proteins 1&2 (Tsal1&2) display DNA/RNA non-specific, high affinity nucleic acid binding with KD values in the low nanomolar range and a non-exclusive preference for duplex. These Tsal proteins exert only a residual nuclease activity with a preference for dsDNA in a broad pH range. Knockdown of Tsal expression by in vivo RNA interference in the tsetse fly revealed a partially impaired blood digestion phenotype as evidenced by higher gut nucleic acid, hematin and protein contents.
PMCID: PMC3479092  PMID: 23110062
23.  Adult midgut expressed sequence tags from the tsetse fly Glossina morsitans morsitans and expression analysis of putative immune response genes 
Genome Biology  2003;4(10):R63.
An expressed sequence tag (EST) project on the adult tsetse midgut, the major organ system for establishment and early development of trypanosomes has been undertaken. The most notable block of genes upregulated in response to trypanosome challenge are a series of Toll and Imd genes and a series of genes involved in oxidative stress responses.
Tsetse flies transmit African trypanosomiasis leading to half a million cases annually. Trypanosomiasis in animals (nagana) remains a massive brake on African agricultural development. While trypanosome biology is widely studied, knowledge of tsetse flies is very limited, particularly at the molecular level. This is a serious impediment to investigations of tsetse-trypanosome interactions. We have undertaken an expressed sequence tag (EST) project on the adult tsetse midgut, the major organ system for establishment and early development of trypanosomes.
A total of 21,427 ESTs were produced from the midgut of adult Glossina morsitans morsitans and grouped into 8,876 clusters or singletons potentially representing unique genes. Putative functions were ascribed to 4,035 of these by homology. Of these, a remarkable 3,884 had their most significant matches in the Drosophila protein database. We selected 68 genes with putative immune-related functions, macroarrayed them and determined their expression profiles following bacterial or trypanosome challenge. In both infections many genes are downregulated, suggesting a malaise response in the midgut. Trypanosome and bacterial challenge result in upregulation of different genes, suggesting that different recognition pathways are involved in the two responses. The most notable block of genes upregulated in response to trypanosome challenge are a series of Toll and Imd genes and a series of genes involved in oxidative stress responses.
The project increases the number of known Glossina genes by two orders of magnitude. Identification of putative immunity genes and their preliminary characterization provides a resource for the experimental dissection of tsetse-trypanosome interactions.
PMCID: PMC328452  PMID: 14519198
24.  Detection and characterization of Wolbachia infections in laboratory and natural populations of different species of tsetse flies (genus Glossina) 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12(Suppl 1):S3.
Wolbachia is a genus of endosymbiotic α-Proteobacteria infecting a wide range of arthropods and filarial nematodes. Wolbachia is able to induce reproductive abnormalities such as cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), thelytokous parthenogenesis, feminization and male killing, thus affecting biology, ecology and evolution of its hosts. The bacterial group has prompted research regarding its potential for the control of agricultural and medical disease vectors, including Glossina spp., which transmits African trypanosomes, the causative agents of sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in animals.
In the present study, we employed a Wolbachia specific 16S rRNA PCR assay to investigate the presence of Wolbachia in six different laboratory stocks as well as in natural populations of nine different Glossina species originating from 10 African countries. Wolbachia was prevalent in Glossina morsitans morsitans, G. morsitans centralis and G. austeni populations. It was also detected in G. brevipalpis, and, for the first time, in G. pallidipes and G. palpalis gambiensis. On the other hand, Wolbachia was not found in G. p. palpalis, G. fuscipes fuscipes and G. tachinoides. Wolbachia infections of different laboratory and natural populations of Glossina species were characterized using 16S rRNA, the wsp (Wolbachia Surface Protein) gene and MLST (Multi Locus Sequence Typing) gene markers. This analysis led to the detection of horizontal gene transfer events, in which Wobachia genes were inserted into the tsetse flies fly nuclear genome.
Wolbachia infections were detected in both laboratory and natural populations of several different Glossina species. The characterization of these Wolbachia strains promises to lead to a deeper insight in tsetse flies-Wolbachia interactions, which is essential for the development and use of Wolbachia-based biological control methods.
PMCID: PMC3287514  PMID: 22376025
25.  Artificial Warthog Burrows Used to Sample Adult and Immature Tsetse (Glossina spp) in the Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(3):e0003565.
The biology of adult tsetse (Glossina spp), vectors of trypanosomiasis in Africa, has been extensively studied – but little is known about larviposition in the field.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In September-November 1998, in the hot-dry season in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley, we used artificial warthog burrows to capture adult females as they deposited larvae. Females were subjected to ovarian dissection and were defined as perinatal flies, assumed to have entered burrows to larviposit, if oocyte sizes indicated >95% pregnancy completion. Perinatal flies were defined as full-term pregnant if there was a late third instar larva in utero, or postpartum if the uterus was empty. All other females were defined as pre-full-term pregnant (pre-FT). Of 845 G. m. morsitans captured, 91% (765) were female and 295/724 (41%) of females dissected were perinatal flies. By contrast, of 2805 G. pallidipes captured only 71% (2003) were female and only 33% (596/1825) of females were perinatal. Among all perinatal females 67% (596/891) were G. pallidipes. Conversely, in burrows not fitted with traps – such that flies were free to come and go – 1834 (59%) of pupae deposited were G. m. morsitans and only 1297 (41%) were G. pallidipes. Thus, while more full-term pregnant G. pallidipes enter burrows, greater proportions of G. m. morsitans larviposit in them, reflecting a greater discrimination among G. pallidipes in choosing larviposition sites. Catches of males and pre-FT females increased strongly with temperatures above 32°C, indicating that these flies used burrows as refuges from high ambient temperatures. Conversely, catches of perinatal females changed little with maximum temperature but declined from late September through November: females may anticipate that burrows will be inundated during the forthcoming wet season. Ovarian age distributions of perinatal and pre-FT females were similar, consistent with all ages of females larvipositing in burrows with similar probability.
Artificial warthog burrows provide a novel method for collecting tsetse pupae, studying tsetse behaviour at larviposition, assessing the physiological status of female tsetse and their larvae, and of improving understanding of the physiological dynamics of terminal pregnancy, and population dynamics generally, with a view to improving methods of trypanosomiasis control.
Author Summary
Adult tsetse, vectors of trypanosomiasis, have been extensively studied for more than 100 years, but little is known about larviposition behaviour in the field. Pupae are generally collected in the field via arduous searches of putative larviposition sites. Females have never been sampled in the field as they deposit a larva, leading to confusion about the physiological dynamics at the end of pregnancy. We overcome these problems through the use of artificial warthog burrows, where tsetse deposit pupae during the hot dry season in the Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe. When burrows were fitted with a retaining trap it was also possible to sample perinatal (full-term pregnant and postpartum) female tsetse. Comparisons of the numbers of pupae deposited in burrows without the trap, with the numbers of perinatal flies trapped in burrows, showed that many full-term pregnant female tsetse enter burrows but then leave without depositing a larva. G. pallidipes are more discriminating in this regard than G. m. morsitans. Capture of perinatal females will make it possible, for the first time, to compare the physiological status of female tsetse and the pupa they have just deposited, with important implications for the understanding of tsetse population dynamics.
PMCID: PMC4364979  PMID: 25786253

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