Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (352750)

Clipboard (0)

Related Articles

1.  VectorBase: a data resource for invertebrate vector genomics 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;37(Database issue):D583-D587.
VectorBase ( 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.
PMCID: PMC2686483  PMID: 19028744
2.  VectorBase: a home for invertebrate vectors of human pathogens 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;35(Database issue):D503-D505.
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.
PMCID: PMC1751530  PMID: 17145709
3.  Decoding the Ubiquitin-Mediated Pathway of Arthropod Disease Vectors 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78077.
Protein regulation by ubiquitin has been extensively described in model organisms. However, characterization of the ubiquitin machinery in disease vectors remains mostly unknown. This fundamental gap in knowledge presents a concern because new therapeutics are needed to control vector-borne diseases, and targeting the ubiquitin machinery as a means for disease intervention has been already adopted in the clinic. In this study, we employed a bioinformatics approach to uncover the ubiquitin-mediated pathway in the genomes of Anopheles gambiae, Aedes aegypti, Culex quinquefasciatus, Ixodes scapularis, Pediculus humanus and Rhodnius prolixus. We observed that (1) disease vectors encode a lower percentage of ubiquitin-related genes when compared to Drosophila melanogaster, Mus musculus and Homo sapiens but not Saccharomyces cerevisiae; (2) overall, there are more proteins categorized as E3 ubiquitin ligases when compared to E2-conjugating or E1-activating enzymes; (3) the ubiquitin machinery within the three mosquito genomes is highly similar; (4) ubiquitin genes are more than doubled in the Chagas disease vector (R. prolixus) when compared to other arthropod vectors; (5) the deer tick I. scapularis and the body louse (P. humanus) genomes carry low numbers of E1-activating enzymes and HECT-type E3 ubiquitin ligases; (6) R. prolixus have low numbers of RING-type E3 ubiquitin ligases; and (7) C. quinquefasciatus present elevated numbers of predicted F-box E3 ubiquitin ligases, JAB and UCH deubiquitinases. Taken together, these findings provide novel opportunities to study the interaction between a pathogen and an arthropod vector.
PMCID: PMC3804464  PMID: 24205097
4.  Genomic Resources for Invertebrate Vectors of Human Pathogens, and the role of VectorBase 
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 (
PMCID: PMC2720521  PMID: 18262474
insect; vector; human pathogen; genomic resources; VectorBase
5.  Validation of reference genes for expression analysis in the salivary gland and the intestine of Rhodnius prolixus (Hemiptera, Reduviidae) under different experimental conditions by quantitative real-time PCR 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:128.
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.
PMCID: PMC3337225  PMID: 22395020
6.  A role for host-parasite interactions in the horizontal transfer of DNA transposons across animal phyla 
Nature  2010;464(7293):1347-1350.
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.
PMCID: PMC3004126  PMID: 20428170
7.  Nuclear Genetic Diversity in Human Lice (Pediculus humanus) Reveals Continental Differences and High Inbreeding among Worldwide Populations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57619.
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.
PMCID: PMC3583987  PMID: 23460886
8.  Hyaluronidase of Bloodsucking Insects and Its Enhancing Effect on Leishmania Infection in Mice 
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.
Principal Findings
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).
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC2553483  PMID: 18820742
9.  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
10.  Presence of Extensive Wolbachia Symbiont Insertions Discovered in the Genome of Its Host Glossina morsitans morsitans 
Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) are the cyclical vectors of Trypanosoma spp., which are unicellular parasites responsible for multiple diseases, including nagana in livestock and sleeping sickness in humans in Africa. Glossina species, including Glossina morsitans morsitans (Gmm), for which the Whole Genome Sequence (WGS) is now available, have established symbiotic associations with three endosymbionts: Wigglesworthia glossinidia, Sodalis glossinidius and Wolbachia pipientis (Wolbachia). The presence of Wolbachia in both natural and laboratory populations of Glossina species, including the presence of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) events in a laboratory colony of Gmm, has already been shown. We herein report on the draft genome sequence of the cytoplasmic Wolbachia endosymbiont (cytWol) associated with Gmm. By in silico and molecular and cytogenetic analysis, we discovered and validated the presence of multiple insertions of Wolbachia (chrWol) in the host Gmm genome. We identified at least two large insertions of chrWol, 527,507 and 484,123 bp in size, from Gmm WGS data. Southern hybridizations confirmed the presence of Wolbachia insertions in Gmm genome, and FISH revealed multiple insertions located on the two sex chromosomes (X and Y), as well as on the supernumerary B-chromosomes. We compare the chrWol insertions to the cytWol draft genome in an attempt to clarify the evolutionary history of the HGT events. We discuss our findings in light of the evolution of Wolbachia infections in the tsetse fly and their potential impacts on the control of tsetse populations and trypanosomiasis.
Author Summary
African trypanosomes are transmitted to man and animals by tsetse fly, a blood sucking insect. Tsetse flies include all Glossina species with the genome of Glossina morsitans morsitans (Gmm) being sequenced under the International Glossina Genome Initiative. The endosymbionts Wigglesworthia glossinidia, Sodalis glossinidius and Wolbachia pipientis (Wolbachia) have been found to establish symbiotic associations with Gmm. Wolbachia is known to be present in natural and laboratory populations of Glossina species. In this study we report the genome sequence of the Wolbachia strain that is associated with Gmm. With the aid of in silico and molecular and cytogenetic analyses, multiple insertions of the Wolbachia genome were revealed and confirmed in Gmm chromosome. Comparison of the cytoplasmic Wolbachia draft genome and the chromosomal insertions enabled us to infer the evolutionary history of the Wolbachia horizontal transfer events. These findings are discussed in relation to their impact on the development of Wolbachia-based strategies for the control of tsetse flies and trypanosomiasis.
PMCID: PMC3998919  PMID: 24763283
11.  Overexpression in Escherichia coli and functional reconstitution of the liposome binding ferriheme protein nitrophorin 7 (NP7) from the blood sucking bug Rhodnius prolixus 
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.
PMCID: PMC2094717  PMID: 17428677
bloodsucking insects; heme protein reconstitution; lipocalin refolding; liposome-protein interaction; nitrophorin; phosphatidylserine; Rhodnius prolixus
12.  Tsetse EP Protein Protects the Fly Midgut from Trypanosome Establishment 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(3):e1000793.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC2832768  PMID: 20221444
13.  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
14.  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
15.  An expression map for Anopheles gambiae 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:620.
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 It is regularly updated as new experimental data becomes available.
PMCID: PMC3341590  PMID: 22185628
16.  Environmental Signals Generate a Differential and Coordinated Expression of the Heme Receptor Gene Family of Bartonella quintana  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(6):3251-3261.
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.
PMCID: PMC1479232  PMID: 16714552
17.  Bioluminescent imaging of Trypanosoma cruzi infection in Rhodnius prolixus 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:214.
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.
PMCID: PMC3481367  PMID: 23013827
Trypanosoma cruzi; Rhodnius prolixus; Chagas diseases; Bioluminescent imaging; Bioluminescence; Luciferase
18.  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
19.  Tsetse Fly Control in Kenya's Spatially and Temporally Dynamic Control Reservoirs: A Cost Analysis 
Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) and animal African trypanosomiasis (AAT) are significant health concerns throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa. Funding for tsetse fly control operations has decreased since the 1970s, which has in turn limited the success of campaigns to control the disease vector. To maximize the effectiveness of the limited financial resources available for tsetse control, this study develops and analyzes spatially and temporally dynamic tsetse distribution maps of Glossina subgenus Morsitans populations in Kenya from January 2002 to December 2010, produced using the Tsetse Ecological Distribution Model. These species distribution maps reveal seasonal variations in fly distributions. Such variations allow for the identification of “control reservoirs” where fly distributions are spatially constrained by fluctuations in suitable habitat and tsetse population characteristics. Following identification of the control reservoirs, a tsetse management operation is simulated in the control reservoirs using capital and labor control inputs from previous studies. Finally, a cost analysis, following specific economic guidelines from existing tsetse control analyses, is conducted to calculate the total cost of a nationwide control campaign of the reservoirs compared to the cost of a nationwide campaign conducted at the maximum spatial extent of the fly distributions from January 2002 to December 2010. The total cost of tsetse management within the reservoirs sums to $14,212,647, while the nationwide campaign at the maximum spatial extent amounts to $33,721,516. This savings of $19,508,869 represents the importance of identifying seasonally dynamic control reservoirs when conducting a tsetse management campaign, and, in the process, offers an economical means of fly control and disease management for future program planning.
PMCID: PMC3347470  PMID: 22581989
Tsetse Fly; Kenya; Control Reservoirs; Control Simulation; Cost Analysis; African Trypanosomiasis
20.  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
21.  Glycoinositolphospholipids from Trypanosomatids Subvert Nitric Oxide Production in Rhodnius prolixus Salivary Glands 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47285.
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.
Methodology/Principal Findings
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.
PMCID: PMC3471836  PMID: 23077586
22.  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
23.  Genotyping of Human Lice Suggests Multiple Emergences of Body Lice from Local Head Louse 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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC2843630  PMID: 20351779
24.  Evolution of Extensively Fragmented Mitochondrial Genomes in the Lice of Humans 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2012;4(11):1088-1101.
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.
PMCID: PMC3514963  PMID: 23042553
mitochondrial genome; chromosome evolution; genome fragmentation; human lice
25.  Standardized Metadata for Human Pathogen/Vector Genomic Sequences 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99979.
High throughput sequencing has accelerated the determination of genome sequences for thousands of human infectious disease pathogens and dozens of their vectors. The scale and scope of these data are enabling genotype-phenotype association studies to identify genetic determinants of pathogen virulence and drug/insecticide resistance, and phylogenetic studies to track the origin and spread of disease outbreaks. To maximize the utility of genomic sequences for these purposes, it is essential that metadata about the pathogen/vector isolate characteristics be collected and made available in organized, clear, and consistent formats. Here we report the development of the GSCID/BRC Project and Sample Application Standard, developed by representatives of the Genome Sequencing Centers for Infectious Diseases (GSCIDs), the Bioinformatics Resource Centers (BRCs) for Infectious Diseases, and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), informed by interactions with numerous collaborating scientists. It includes mapping to terms from other data standards initiatives, including the Genomic Standards Consortium’s minimal information (MIxS) and NCBI’s BioSample/BioProjects checklists and the Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI). The standard includes data fields about characteristics of the organism or environmental source of the specimen, spatial-temporal information about the specimen isolation event, phenotypic characteristics of the pathogen/vector isolated, and project leadership and support. By modeling metadata fields into an ontology-based semantic framework and reusing existing ontologies and minimum information checklists, the application standard can be extended to support additional project-specific data fields and integrated with other data represented with comparable standards. The use of this metadata standard by all ongoing and future GSCID sequencing projects will provide a consistent representation of these data in the BRC resources and other repositories that leverage these data, allowing investigators to identify relevant genomic sequences and perform comparative genomics analyses that are both statistically meaningful and biologically relevant.
PMCID: PMC4061050  PMID: 24936976

Results 1-25 (352750)