VectorBase (http://www.vectorbase.org) is an NIAID-funded Bioinformatic Resource Center focused on invertebrate vectors of human pathogens. VectorBase annotates and curates vector genomes providing a web accessible integrated resource for the research community. Currently, VectorBase contains genome information for three mosquito species: Aedes aegypti, Anopheles gambiae and Culex quinquefasciatus, a body louse Pediculus humanus and a tick species Ixodes scapularis. Since our last report VectorBase has initiated a community annotation system, a microarray and gene expression repository and controlled vocabularies for anatomy and insecticide resistance. We have continued to develop both the software infrastructure and tools for interrogating the stored data.
VectorBase () is a web-accessible data repository for information about invertebrate vectors of human pathogens. VectorBase annotates and maintains vector genomes providing an integrated resource for the research community. Currently, VectorBase contains genome information for two organisms: Anopheles gambiae, a vector for the Plasmodium protozoan agent causing malaria, and Aedes aegypti, a vector for the flaviviral agents causing Yellow fever and Dengue fever.
High-throughput genome sequencing techniques have now reached vector biology with an emphasis on those species that are vectors of human pathogens. The first mosquito to be sequenced was Anopheles gambiae, the vector for Plasmodium parasites that cause malaria. Further mosquitoes have followed: Aedes aegypti (Yellow fever and Dengue fever vector) and Culex pipiens (lymphatic filariasis and West Nile fever). Species that are currently in sequencing include the body louse Pediculus humanus (Typhus vector), the triatomine Rhodnius prolixus (Chagas disease vector) and the tick Ixodes scapularis (Lyme disease vector). The motivations for sequencing vector genomes are to further understand vector biology, with an eye on developing new control strategies (for example novel chemical attractants or repellents) or understanding the limitations of current strategies (for example the mechanism of insecticide resistance); to analyse the mechanisms driving their evolution; and to perform an exhaustive analysis of the gene repertory. The proliferation of genomic data creates the need for efficient and accessible storage. We present VectorBase, a genomic resource centre that is both involved in the annotation of vector genomes and act as a portal for access to the genomic information (http://www.vectorbase.org).
insect; vector; human pathogen; genomic resources; VectorBase
Rhodnius prolixus is a blood-feeding insect that can transmit Trypanosoma cruzi and Trypanosoma rangeli to vertebrate hosts. Recently, genomic resources for invertebrate vectors of human pathogens have increased significantly, and R. prolixus has been one of the main species studied among the triatomines. However, the paucity of information on many of the fundamental molecular aspects of this species limits the use of the available genomic information. The present study aimed to facilitate gene expression studies by identifying the most suitable reference genes for the normalization of mRNA expression data from qPCR.
The expression stability of five candidate reference genes (18S rRNA, GAPDH, β-actin, α-tubulin and ribosomal protein L26) was evaluated by qPCR in two tissues (salivary gland and intestine) and under different physiological conditions: before and after blood feeding and after infection with T. cruzi or T. rangeli. The results were analyzed with three software programs: geNorm, NormFinder and BestKeeper. All of the evaluated candidate genes proved to be acceptable as reference genes, but some were found to be more appropriate depending on the experimental conditions. 18S, GAPDH and α-tubulin showed acceptable stability for studies in all of the tissues and experimental conditions evaluated. β-actin, one of the most widely used reference genes, was confirmed to be one of the most suitable reference genes in studies with salivary glands, but it had the lowest expression stability in the intestine after insect blood feeding. L26 was identified as the poorest reference gene in the studies performed.
The expression stability of the genes varies in different tissue samples and under different experimental conditions. The results provided by three statistical packages emphasize the suitability of all five of the tested reference genes in both the crop and the salivary glands with a few exceptions. The results emphasise the importance of validating reference genes for qRT-PCR analysis in R. prolixus studies.
Horizontal transfer (HT), or the passage of genetic material between non-mating species, is increasingly recognized as an important force in the evolution of eukaryotic genomes1,2. Transposons, with their inherent ability to mobilize and amplify within genomes, may be especially prone to HT3–7. However, the means by which transposons can spread across widely diverged species remain elusive. Here we present evidence that host-parasite interactions have promoted the HT of four transposon families between invertebrates and vertebrates. We found that Rhodnius prolixus, a triatomine bug feeding on the blood of diverse tetrapods and vector of the Chagas disease in humans, carries in its genome four distinct transposon families that also invaded the genomes of a diverse, but overlapping, set of tetrapods. The bug transposons are ~98% identical and cluster phylogenetically with those of the opossum and squirrel monkey, two of its preferred mammalian hosts in South America. We also identified one of these transposon families in the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis, a nearly cosmopolitan vector of trematodes infecting diverse vertebrates, whose ancestral sequence is nearly identical and clusters with those found in Old World mammals. Together these data provide evidence for a previously hypothesized role of host-parasite interactions in facilitating HT among animals3,7. Furthermore, the large amount of DNA generated by the amplification of the horizontally-transferred transposons supports the idea that the exchange of genetic material between hosts and parasites influence their genomic evolution.
Understanding the evolution of parasites is important to both basic and applied evolutionary biology. Knowledge of the genetic structure of parasite populations is critical for our ability to predict how an infection can spread through a host population and for the design of effective control methods. However, very little is known about the genetic structure of most human parasites, including the human louse (Pediculus humanus). This species is composed of two ecotypes: the head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis De Geer), and the clothing (body) louse (Pediculus humanus humanus Linnaeus). Hundreds of millions of head louse infestations affect children every year, and this number is on the rise, in part because of increased resistance to insecticides. Clothing lice affect mostly homeless and refugee-camp populations and although they are less prevalent than head lice, the medical consequences are more severe because they vector deadly bacterial pathogens. In this study we present the first assessment of the genetic structure of human louse populations by analyzing the nuclear genetic variation at 15 newly developed microsatellite loci in 93 human lice from 11 sites in four world regions. Both ecotypes showed heterozygote deficits relative to Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium and high inbreeding values, an expected pattern given their parasitic life history. Bayesian clustering analyses assigned lice to four distinct genetic clusters that were geographically structured. The low levels of gene flow among louse populations suggested that the evolution of insecticide resistance in lice would most likely be affected by local selection pressures, underscoring the importance of tailoring control strategies to population-specific genetic makeup and evolutionary history. Our panel of microsatellite markers provides powerful data to investigate not only ecological and evolutionary processes in lice, but also those in their human hosts because of the long-term coevolutionary association between lice and humans.
Salivary hyaluronidases have been described in a few bloodsucking arthropods. However, very little is known about the presence of this enzyme in various bloodsucking insects and no data are available on its effect on transmitted microorganisms. Here, we studied hyaluronidase activity in thirteen bloodsucking insects belonging to four different orders. In addition, we assessed the effect of hyaluronidase coinoculation on the outcome of Leishmania major infection in BALB/c mice.
High hyaluronidase activity was detected in several Diptera tested, namely deer fly Chrysops viduatus, blackflies Odagmia ornata and Eusimilium latipes, mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus, biting midge Culicoides kibunensis and sand fly Phlebotomus papatasi. Lower activity was detected in cat flea Ctenocephalides felis. No activity was found in kissing bug Rhodnius prolixus, mosquitoes Anopheles stephensi and Aedes aegypti, tse-tse fly Glossina fuscipes, stable fly Stomoxys calcitrans and human louse Pediculus humanus. Hyaluronidases of different insects vary substantially in their molecular weight, the structure of the molecule and the sensitivity to reducing conditions or sodium dodecyl sulphate. Hyaluronidase exacerbates skin lesions caused by Leishmania major; more severe lesions developed in mice where L. major promastigotes were coinjected with hyaluronidase.
High hyaluronidase activities seem to be essential for insects with pool-feeding mode, where they facilitate the enlargement of the feeding lesion and serve as a spreading factor for other pharmacologically active compounds present in saliva. As this enzyme is present in all Phlebotomus and Lutzomyia species studied to date, it seems to be one of the factors responsible for enhancing activity present in sand fly saliva. We propose that salivary hyaluronidase may facilitate the spread of other vector-borne microorganisms, especially those transmitted by insects with high hyaluronidase activity, namely blackflies (Simuliidae), biting midges (Ceratopogonidae) and horse flies (Tabanidae).
Hyaluronidases are enzymes degrading the extracellular matrix of vertebrates. Bloodsucking insects use them to cleave the skin of the host, enlarge the feeding lesion and acquire the blood meal. In addition, resulting fragments of extracellular matrix modulate local immune response of the host, which may positively affect transmission of vector-borne diseases, including leishmaniasis. Leishmaniases are diseases with a wide spectrum of clinical forms, from a relatively mild cutaneous affection to life-threatening visceral disease. Their causative agents, protozoans of the genus Leishmania, are transmitted by phlebotomine sand flies. Sand fly saliva was described to enhance Leishmania infection, but the information about molecules responsible for this exacerbating effect is still very limited. In the present work we demonstrated hyaluronidase activity in salivary glands of various Diptera and in fleas. In addition, we showed that hyaluronidase exacerbates Leishmania lesions in mice and propose that salivary hyaluronidase may facilitate the spread of other vector-borne microorganisms.
A number of ferriheme proteins, termed nitrophorins (NPs), occur in the saliva of the bloodsucking insect Rhodnius prolixus (‘kissing bug’), which is a vector for Chagas' disease. Nitrophorins bind the heme b cofactor in the β-barrel of their lipocalin fold, which is further anchored through a proximal histidine–FeIII bond. The distal FeIII coordination site then binds nitric oxide (NO) for delivery into a host's tissues during blood feeding, where, upon NO release, the distal FeIII site acts as a histamine trap to delays the victim's immune response. Previously, four nitrophorins from Rhodnius prolixus, NP1 to NP4, have been extensively characterized. Recently, another nitrophorin, NP7, was discovered in a cDNA library derived from the same insect. Among the R. prolixus nitrophorins, NP7 was found to be unique in its ability to bind to negatively charged cell surfaces. However, the yield of functional recombinant NP7 was rather low when the established protocol for NP1-4 was followed. Here, we report on a novel expression and reconstitution method for NP7 that yields sufficient amounts of pure protein for extensive characterization (28-fold increase). This method may prove useful for the reconstitution of other proteins with a lipocalin fold.
bloodsucking insects; heme protein reconstitution; lipocalin refolding; liposome-protein interaction; nitrophorin; phosphatidylserine; Rhodnius prolixus
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.
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.
African trypanosomes undergo a complex developmental process in their tsetse fly vector before transmission back to a vertebrate host. Typically, 90% of fly infections fail, most during initial establishment of the parasite in the fly midgut. The specific mechanism(s) underpinning this failure are unknown. We have previously shown that a Glossina-specific, immunoresponsive molecule, tsetse EP protein, is up regulated by the fly in response to gram-negative microbial challenge. Here we show by knockdown using RNA interference that this tsetse EP protein acts as a powerful antagonist of establishment in the fly midgut for both Trypanosoma brucei brucei and T. congolense. We demonstrate that this phenomenon exists in two species of tsetse, Glossina morsitans morsitans and G. palpalis palpalis, suggesting tsetse EP protein may be a major determinant of vector competence in all Glossina species. Tsetse EP protein levels also decline in response to starvation of the fly, providing a possible explanation for increased susceptibility of starved flies to trypanosome infection. As starvation is a common field event, this fact may be of considerable importance in the epidemiology of African trypanosomiasis.
In Africa, tsetse flies transmit the trypanosomes causing the devastating diseases sleeping sickness in man and nagana in domesticated animals. These diseases are major causes of underdevelopment in Africa. Paradoxically, most, but not all, flies are resistant to infection with trypanosomes, but we do not have a clear picture of how flies fight off trypanosomes. Here we show that a particular, tsetse-specific immune responsive protein called tsetse EP acts as a powerful antagonist of trypanosome establishment in the fly midgut. It is known that starvation of flies leads to an increase in their susceptibility to trypanosomes and this may be a considerable factor in the epidemiology of the disease in Africa. Here we demonstrate that starvation leads to a decrease in tsetse EP levels, which may explain how starvation of the fly works to increase its susceptibility.
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.
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.
Of all bacteria, Bartonella quintana has the highest reported in vitro hemin requirement, yet an explanation for this remains elusive. To produce diseases such as trench fever, endocarditis, and bacillary angiomatosis, B. quintana must survive and replicate in the disparate environments of the Pediculus humanus corporis (body louse) gut and the human vasculature. We previously identified a five-member family of hemin binding proteins (Hbps) synthesized by B. quintana that bind hemin on the outer surface but share no similarity to known bacterial heme receptors. In the present study, we examine the transcription, regulation, and synthesis of this virulence factor family by cultivation of the bacterium in environments that simulate natural heme, oxygen, and temperature conditions encountered in the host and insect vector. First, quantitative real-time PCR data show that hbpC expression is regulated by temperature, where a >100-fold increase in transcript quantity was seen at 30°C relative to 37°C, suggesting that HbpC synthesis would be greatest in the cooler temperature of the louse. Second, cultivation at human bloodstream oxygen concentration (5% relative to 21% atmospheric) significantly decreases the transcript quantity of all hbp genes, indicating that expression is influenced by O2 and/or reactive oxygen species. Third, a differential expression pattern within the hbp family is revealed when B. quintana is grown in a range of hemin concentrations: subgroup I (hbpC and hbpB) predominates in a simulated louse environment (high heme), and subgroup II (hbpA, hbpD, and hbpE) is preferentially expressed in a simulated human background (low heme). By using two-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, immunoblotting, and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization—time of flight mass spectrometry fingerprinting, we demonstrate that synthesis of HbpA correlates with hbpA transcript increases observed at low hemin concentrations. Finally, an hbpA promoter-lacZ reporter construct in B. quintana demonstrates that a transcriptional regulator(s) is controlling the expression of hbpA through a cis-acting regulatory element located in the hbpA promoter region.
Usually the analysis of the various developmental stages of Trypanosoma cruzi in the experimentally infected vertebrate and invertebrate hosts is based on the morphological observations of tissue fragments from animals and insects. The development of techniques that allow the imaging of animals infected with parasites expressing luciferase open up possibilities to follow the fate of bioluminescent parasites in infected vectors.
D-luciferin (60 μg) was injected into the hemocoel of the whole insect before bioluminescence acquisition. In dissected insects, the whole gut was incubated with D-luciferin in PBS (300 μg/ml) for ex vivo bioluminescence acquisition in the IVIS® Imaging System, Xenogen.
Herein, we describe the results obtained with the luciferase gene integrated into the genome of the Dm28c clone of T. cruzi, and the use of these parasites to follow, in real time, the infection of the insect vector Rhodnius prolixus, by a non- invasive method. The insects were evaluated by in vivo bioluminescent imaging on the feeding day, and on the 7 th, 14 th, 21 st and 28 th days after feeding. To corroborate the bioluminescent imaging made in vivo, and investigate the digestive tract region, the insects were dissected. The bioluminescence emitted was proportional to the number of protozoans in regions of the gut. The same digestive tracts were also macerated to count the parasites in distinct morphological stages with an optical microscope, and for bioluminescence acquisition in a microplate using the IVIS® Imaging System. A positive correlation of parasite numbers and bioluminescence in the microplate was obtained.
This is the first report of bioluminescent imaging in Rhodnius prolixus infected with trypomastigotes of the Dm28c-luc stable strain, expressing firefly luciferase. In spite of the distribution limitations of the substrate (D-luciferin) in the insect body, longitudinal evaluation of infected insects by bioluminescent imaging is a valuable tool. Bioluminescent imaging of the digestive tract infected with Dm28c-luc is highly sensitive and accurate method to track the fate of the parasite in the vector, in the crop, intestine and rectum. This methodology is useful to gain a better understanding of the parasite – insect vector interactions.
Trypanosoma cruzi; Rhodnius prolixus; Chagas diseases; Bioluminescent imaging; Bioluminescence; Luciferase
Quantitative transcriptome data for the malaria-transmitting mosquito Anopheles gambiae covers a broad range of biological and experimental conditions, including development, blood feeding and infection. Web-based summaries of differential expression for individual genes with respect to these conditions are a useful tool for the biologist, but they lack the context that a visualisation of all genes with respect to all conditions would give. For most organisms, including A. gambiae, such a systems-level view of gene expression is not yet available.
We have clustered microarray-based gene-averaged expression values, available from VectorBase, for 10194 genes over 93 experimental conditions using a self-organizing map. Map regions corresponding to known biological events, such as egg production, are revealed. Many individual gene clusters (nodes) on the map are highly enriched in biological and molecular functions, such as protein synthesis, protein degradation and DNA replication. Gene families, such as odorant binding proteins, can be classified into distinct functional groups based on their expression and evolutionary history. Immunity-related genes are non-randomly distributed in several distinct regions on the map, and are generally distant from genes with house-keeping roles. Each immunity-rich region appears to represent a distinct biological context for pathogen recognition and clearance (e.g. the humoral and gut epithelial responses). Several immunity gene families, such as peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRPs) and defensins, appear to be specialised for these distinct roles, while three genes with physically interacting protein products (LRIM1/APL1C/TEP1) are found in close proximity.
The map provides the first genome-scale, multi-experiment overview of gene expression in A. gambiae and should also be useful at the gene-level for investigating potential interactions. A web interface is available through the VectorBase website http://www.vectorbase.org/. It is regularly updated as new experimental data becomes available.
Rhodnius prolixus is a blood-sucking bug vector of Trypanosoma cruzi and T. rangeli. T. cruzi is transmitted by vector feces deposited close to the wound produced by insect mouthparts, whereas T. rangeli invades salivary glands and is inoculated into the host skin. Bug saliva contains a set of nitric oxide-binding proteins, called nitrophorins, which deliver NO to host vessels and ensure vasodilation and blood feeding. NO is generated by nitric oxide synthases (NOS) present in the epithelium of bug salivary glands. Thus, T. rangeli is in close contact with NO while in the salivary glands.
Here we show by immunohistochemical, biochemical and molecular techniques that inositolphosphate-containing glycolipids from trypanosomatids downregulate NO synthesis in the salivary glands of R. prolixus. Injecting insects with T. rangeli-derived glycoinositolphospholipids (Tr GIPL) or T. cruzi-derived glycoinositolphospholipids (Tc GIPL) specifically decreased NO production. Salivary gland treatment with Tc GIPL blocks NO production without greatly affecting NOS mRNA levels. NOS protein is virtually absent from either Tr GIPL- or Tc GIPL-treated salivary glands. Evaluation of NO synthesis by using a fluorescent NO probe showed that T. rangeli-infected or Tc GIPL-treated glands do not show extensive labeling. The same effect is readily obtained by treatment of salivary glands with the classical protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) inhibitor, sodium orthovanadate (SO). This suggests that parasite GIPLs induce the inhibition of a salivary gland PTP. GIPLs specifically suppressed NO production and did not affect other anti-hemostatic properties of saliva, such as the anti-clotting and anti-platelet activities.
Taken together, these data suggest that trypanosomatids have overcome NO generation using their surface GIPLs. Therefore, these molecules ensure parasite survival and may ultimately enhance parasite transmission.
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.
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.
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.
Genetic analyses of human lice have shown that the current taxonomic classification of head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) and body lice (Pediculus humanus humanus) does not reflect their phylogenetic organization. Three phylotypes of head lice A, B and C exist but body lice have been observed only in phylotype A. Head and body lice have different behaviours and only the latter have been involved in outbreaks of infectious diseases including epidemic typhus, trench fever and louse borne recurrent fever. Recent studies suggest that body lice arose several times from head louse populations.
Methods and Findings
By introducing a new genotyping technique, sequencing variable intergenic spacers which were selected from louse genomic sequence, we were able to evaluate the genotypic distribution of 207 human lice. Sequence variation of two intergenic spacers, S2 and S5, discriminated the 207 lice into 148 genotypes and sequence variation of another two intergenic spacers, PM1 and PM2, discriminated 174 lice into 77 genotypes. Concatenation of the four intergenic spacers discriminated a panel of 97 lice into 96 genotypes. These intergenic spacer sequence types were relatively specific geographically, and enabled us to identify two clusters in France, one cluster in Central Africa (where a large body louse outbreak has been observed) and one cluster in Russia. Interestingly, head and body lice were not genetically differentiated.
We propose a hypothesis for the emergence of body lice, and suggest that humans with both low hygiene and head louse infestations provide an opportunity for head louse variants, able to ingest a larger blood meal (a required characteristic of body lice), to colonize clothing. If this hypothesis is ultimately supported, it would help to explain why poor human hygiene often coincides with outbreaks of body lice. Additionally, if head lice act as a reservoir for body lice, and that any social degradation in human populations may allow the formation of new populations of body lice, then head louse populations are potentially a greater threat to humans than previously assumed.
While being phenotypically and physiologically different, human head and body lice are indistinguishable based on mitochondrial and nuclear genes. As protein-coding genes are too conserved to provide significant genetic diversity, we performed strain-typing of a large collection of human head and body lice using variable intergenic spacer sequences. Ninety-seven human lice were classified into ninety-six genotypes based on four intergenic spacer sequences. Genotypic and phylogenetic analyses using these sequences suggested that human head and body lice are still indistinguishable. We hypothesized that the phenotypic and physiological differences between human head and body lice are controlled by very limited mutations. Under conditions of poor hygiene, head lice can propagate very quickly. Some of them will colonize clothing, producing a body louse variant (genetic or phenetic), which can lead to an epidemic. Lice collected in Rwanda and Burundi, where outbreaks of louse-borne diseases have been recently reported, are grouped tightly into a cluster and those collected from homeless people in France were also grouped into a cluster with lice collected in French non-homeless people. Our strain-typing approach based on highly variable intergenic spacers may be helpful to elucidate louse evolution and to survey louse-borne diseases.
Bilateral animals are featured by an extremely compact mitochondrial (mt) genome with 37 genes on a single circular chromosome. The human body louse, Pediculus humanus, however, has its mt genes on 20 minichromosomes. We sequenced the mt genomes of two other human lice: the head louse, P. capitis, and the pubic louse, Pthirus pubis. Comparison among the three human lice revealed the presence of fragmented mt genomes in their most recent common ancestor, which lived ∼7 Ma. The head louse has exactly the same set of mt minichromosomes as the body louse, indicating that the number of minichromosomes, and the gene content and gene arrangement in each minichromosome have remained unchanged since the body louse evolved from the head louse ∼107,000 years ago. The pubic louse has the same pattern of one protein-coding or rRNA gene per minichromosome (except one minichromosome with two protein-coding genes, atp6 and atp8) as the head louse and the body louse. This pattern is apparently ancestral to all human lice and has been stable for at least 7 Myr. Most tRNA genes of the pubic louse, however, are on different minichromosomes when compared with their counterparts in the head louse and the body louse. It is evident that rearrangement of four tRNA genes (for leucine, arginine and glycine) was due to gene-identity switch by point mutation at the third anticodon position or by homologous recombination, whereas rearrangement of other tRNA genes was by gene translocation between minichromosomes, likely caused by minichromosome split via gene degeneration and deletion.
mitochondrial genome; chromosome evolution; genome fragmentation; human lice
The human body louse, Pediculus humanus humanus, has one of the smallest insect genomes, containing ~10,775 annotated genes (Kirkness et al. 2010). Annotation of detoxification [cytochrome P450 monooxygenase (P450), glutathione-S-transferase (GST), esterase (Est), and ATP-binding cassette transporter (ABC transporter)] genes revealed that they are dramatically reduced in P. h. humanus compared to other insects except for Apis mellifera. There are 37 P450, 13 GST and 17 Est genes present in P. h. humanus, approximately half of that found in Drosophila melanogaster and Anopheles gambiae. The number of putatively functional ABC transporter genes in P. h. humanus and A. mellifera are the same (36) but both have fewer than An. gambiae (44) or D. melanogaster (65). The reduction of detoxification genes in P. h. humanus may be due to their simple life history, where they do not encounter a wide variety of xenobiotics. Neuronal component genes are highly conserved across different insect species as expected due to their critical function. Although reduced in number, P. h. humanus still retains at least a minimum repertoire of genes known to confer metabolic or toxicokinetic resistance to xenobiotics (e.g., Cyp3 clade P450s, Delta GSTs, B clade Ests and B/C subfamily ABC transporters), suggestive of its high potential for resistance development.
Pediculus; body lice; detoxification genes; insecticide resistance
The genomes of three major mosquito vectors of human diseases, Anopheles gambiae, Aedes aegypti, and Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus, have been previously sequenced. C. p. quinquefasciatus has the largest number of predicted protein-coding genes, which partially results from the expansion of three detoxification gene families: cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (P450), glutathione S-transferases (GST), and carboxyl/cholinesterases (CCE). However, unlike An. gambiae and Ae. aegypti, which have large amounts of gene expression data, C. p. quinquefasciatus has limited transcriptomic resources. Knowledge of complete gene expression information is very important for the exploration of the functions of genes involved in specific biological processes. In the present study, the three detoxification gene families of C. p. quinquefasciatus were analyzed for phylogenetic classification and compared with those of three other dipteran insects. Gene expression during various developmental stages and the differential expression responsible for parathion resistance were profiled using the digital gene expression (DGE) technique.
A total of 302 detoxification genes were found in C. p. quinquefasciatus, including 71 CCE, 196 P450, and 35 cytosolic GST genes. Compared with three other dipteran species, gene expansion in Culex mainly occurred in the CCE and P450 families, where the genes of α-esterases, juvenile hormone esterases, and CYP325 of the CYP4 subfamily showed the most pronounced expansion on the genome. For the five DGE libraries, 3.5-3.8 million raw tags were generated and mapped to 13314 reference genes. Among 302 detoxification genes, 225 (75%) were detected for expression in at least one DGE library. One fourth of the CCE and P450 genes were detected uniquely in one stage, indicating potential developmentally regulated expression. A total of 1511 genes showed different expression levels between a parathion-resistant and a susceptible strain. Fifteen detoxification genes, including 2 CCEs, 6 GSTs, and 7 P450s, were expressed at higher levels in the resistant strain.
The results of the present study provide new insights into the functions and evolution of three detoxification gene families in mosquitoes and comprehensive transcriptomic resources for C. p. quinquefasciatus, which will facilitate the elucidation of molecular mechanisms underlying the different biological characteristics of the three major mosquito vectors.
Carboxyl/cholinesterases; Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases; Glutathione S-transferases; Insecticide resistance; Gene expansion; Gene expression
A genomic library of Glossina morsitans morsitans (tsetse fly) has been constructed in the phage vector EMBL 4 and a complete rDNA unit isolated by using a D. melanogaster rDNA clone as a probe. The overall organisation is typical of higher eukaryotes, including an intergenic spacer consisting of a subrepeating structure. Atypically, however, the 45S precursor RNA promoter was shown to lie within the last subrepeat by S1 mapping; i.e. the last subrepeat extends 90 bp into the ETS. The sequence of the spacer subrepeats, the ETS and the first 151 nucleotides of the 18S gene was determined. Comparisons with the corresponding regions of other higher eukaryotes, including insects shows that the ETS has completely diverged, raising questions concerning their functional significance and evolutionary retention; depending on the method of alignment, only two short regions of reasonable homology are shared with Drosophila species: a stretch of nucleotides around the transcription initiation site, and AACATA at the NTS-18S gene junction; and the functionally important G at -16, conserved in all other examined species, is displaced no matter what method of alignment is used. These and other features reflect continual processes of change in the rDNA family to which the several functions of the repeating unit need to adjust.
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.
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.
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.
Parasites can be used as unique markers to investigate host evolutionary history, independent of host data. Here we show that modern human head lice, Pediculus humanus, are composed of two ancient lineages, whose origin predates modern Homo sapiens by an order of magnitude (ca. 1.18 million years). One of the two louse lineages has a worldwide distribution and appears to have undergone a population bottleneck ca. 100,000 years ago along with its modern H. sapiens host. Phylogenetic and population genetic data suggest that the other lineage, found only in the New World, has remained isolated from the worldwide lineage for the last 1.18 million years. The ancient divergence between these two lice is contemporaneous with splits among early species of Homo, and cospeciation analyses suggest that the two louse lineages codiverged with a now extinct species of Homo and the lineage leading to modern H. sapiens. If these lice indeed codiverged with their hosts ca. 1.18 million years ago, then a recent host switch from an archaic species of Homo to modern H. sapiens is required to explain the occurrence of both lineages on modern H. sapiens. Such a host switch would require direct physical contact between modern and archaic forms of Homo.
A phylogenetic analysis reveals that humans have two types of head lice and that one must have switched from an ancient to a modern human host, suggesting these humans had contact