Schistosomes are parasitic flatworms that cause schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease that affects hundreds of millions worldwide. Treatment and control of schistosomiasis relies almost entirely on the single drug praziquantel (PZQ), making the prospect of emerging drug resistance particularly worrisome. This review will survey reports of PZQ (and other drug) resistance in schistosomes and other platyhelminths, and explore mechanisms by which drug resistance might develop. Newer genomic and post-genomic strategies that offer the promise of better understanding of how drug resistance might arise in these organisms will be discussed. These approaches could also lead to insights into the mode of action of these drugs and potentially provide markers for monitoring the emergence of resistance.
schistosomiasis; drug resistance; multidrug transporters; praziquantel
The majority of Plasmodium falciparum field isolates are defined as complex infections because they contain multiple genetically distinct clones. Studying interactions between clones in complex infections in vivo and in vitro could elucidate important phenomena in malaria infection, transmission and treatment. Using quantitative PCR (qPCR) of the P. falciparum merozoite surface protein 1, block 2 (PfMSP1-B2), we provide a sensitive and efficient genotyping method. This is important for epidemiological studies because it makes it possible to study genotype-specific growth dynamics. We compared 3 PfMSP1-B2 genotyping methods by analysing 79 field isolates from the Peruvian Amazon. In vivo observations from other studies using these techniques led to the hypothesis that clones within complex infections interact. By co-culturing clones with different PfMSP1-B2 genotypes, and measuring parasitaemia using qPCR, we found that suppression of clonal expansion was a factor of the collective density of all clones present in a culture. PfMSP1-B2 qPCR enabled us to find in vitro evidence for parasite-parasite interactions and could facilitate future investigations of growth trends in naturally occurring complex infections.
Plasmodium falciparum; merozoite surface protein 1; block 2; quantitative PCR; density regulation
The mouse whipworm Trichuris muris has long been used as a tractable
model of human Trichuriasis. Here we look back at the history of T. muris
research; from the definition of the species and determination of its life cycle, through
to the complex immune responses that we study today. We highlight the key research papers
that have developed our understanding of immune responses to this parasite, and reflect on
how original concepts have been transformed, as our knowledge of immunology has grown.
Although we have a good understanding of host–parasite interactions in the context of the
underlying cellular immunology, there are still many aspects of the biology of the
Trichuris parasite that remain undefined. We predict that advances in
parasite biology will be key in the future development of new and improved treatments for
Trichuris muris; helminth; nematode; parasite; mouse
Dogs infected with Angiostrongylus vasorum, a potentially lethal
parasite parasitizing the heart and pulmonary arteries, may present severe respiratory,
haematological and neurological signs. In this first large-scale seroepidemiological
survey, 4003 sera originating from Germany and 4030 from the UK were tested by an ELISA
for the detection of circulating antigen of A. vasorum, and by a separate
ELISA detecting specific antibodies. In Germany, where mainly western federal states were
sampled, 0·3% (n = 13, CI: 0·2–0·6%) of dogs were positive in both
ELISAs, whereas in total 0·5% (n = 20, CI: 0·3–0·8%) were
antigen-positive and 2·25% (n = 90, CI: 1·8–2·8%) were positive for
specific antibodies. Regions with antigen- and antibody-positive animals were overlapping.
In the UK, where mainly the south of the country was sampled, 0·97% (n =
39, CI: 0·7–1·3%) of dogs were antigen- and antibody positive. In total, 1·32%
(n = 53, CI: 1·0–1·7%) were antigen-positive, and 3·2%
(n = 129, CI: 2·7–3·8%) were positive for specific antibodies, again in
overlapping regions. These results confirm the occurrence of A. vasorum
in a random dog population originating from large parts of the countries investigated. The
use of the tests alone or in combination was considered as a function of their
sensitivities and specificities, in order to guide efficient clinical and epidemiological
Angiostrongylus vasorum; dog; serological survey; antigen detection; antibody detection; UK; Germany
Novel technologies have prompted a new paradigm in disease surveillance. Advances in computation, communications and materials enable new technologies such as mobile phones and microfluidic chips. In this paper we illustrate examples of new technologies that can augment disease detection. We describe technologies harnessing the internet, mobile phones, point of care diagnostic tools and methods that facilitate detection from passively collected unstructured data. We demonstrate how these can all assist in quicker detection, investigation and response to emerging infectious events. Novel technologies enable collection and dissemination of epidemic intelligence data to both public health practitioners and the general public, enabling finer temporal and spatial resolution of disease monitoring than through traditional public health processes.
Technology; real-time; informal; crowd-sourced
Identification of the major loci responsible for insecticide resistance in malaria vectors would aid the development and implementation of effective resistance management strategies, which are urgently needed to tackle the growing threat posed by resistance to the limited insecticides available for malaria control. Genome-wide association studies in the major malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae, have been hindered by the high degree of within-population structuring and very low levels of linkage disequilibrium hence we revisited the use of quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping to study resistance phenotypes in this vector species. Earlier work, identified two major QTL associated with pyrethroid resistance in A. gambiae s.s. from East Africa using genetic crossing of laboratory-colonized resistant and susceptible strains. In this study, we report the results from genetic mapping of pyrethroid resistance in three isofemale pedigrees established from wild-caught female A. gambiae s.s. mosquitoes from Benin. We identified two QTL on chromosomes 2L and 3R in these field populations, in similar genomic locations to the QTL identified in laboratory strains. The relative merits of two alternative study designs are discussed and suggestions made for future genetic mapping studies of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes.
Anopheles gambiae; natural pedigrees; QTL; malaria; insecticide resistance
The discrete typing units (DTUs) of Trypanosoma cruzi that infect domestic dogs and cats have rarely been studied. With this purpose we conducted a cross-sectional xenodiagnostic survey of dog and cat populations residing in two infested rural villages in Pampa del Indio, in the humid Argentine Chaco. Parasites were isolated by culture from 44 dogs and 12 cats with a positive xenodiagnosis. DTUs were identified from parasite culture samples using a strategy based on multiple polymerase-chain reactions. TcVI was identified in 37 of 44 dogs and in 10 of 12 cats, whereas TcV was identified in five dogs and in two cats –a new finding for cats. No mixed infections were detected. The occurrence of two dogs infected with TcIII –classically found in armadillos– suggests a probable link with the local sylvatic transmission cycle involving Dasypus novemcinctus armadillos and a potential risk of human infection with TcIII. Our study reinforces the importance of dogs and cats as domestic reservoir hosts and sources of various DTUs infecting humans, and suggests a link between dogs and the sylvatic transmission cycle of TcIII.
Chagas disease; Trypanosoma cruzi; Discrete Typing Units; dogs; cats; reservoir
We assessed the distribution of Trypanosoma cruzi Discrete Typing Units (DTUs) in domestic and peridomestic Triatoma infestans and Triatoma sordida specimens collected in a well-defined rural area in Pampa del Indio, northeastern Argentina. Microscopically-positive bugs were randomly selected with a multi-level sampling design, and DTUs were identified using direct PCR strategies. TcVI predominated in 61% of 69 T. infestans and in 56% of 9 T. sordida. TcV was the secondary DTU in T. infestans (16%) and was found in one T. sordida specimen (11%). Three T. sordida (33%) were found infected with TcI, a DTU also identified in local Didelphis albiventris opossums. Mixed DTU infections occurred rarely (5%) and were detected both directly from the bugs’ rectal ampoule and parasite cultures. The identified DTUs and bug collection sites of T. infestans were significantly associated. Bugs infected with TcV were almost exclusively captured in domiciles whereas those with TcVI were found similarly in domiciles and peridomiciles. All mixed infections occurred in domiciles. TcV-infected bugs fed more often on humans than on dogs, whereas TcVI-infected bugs showed the reverse pattern. T. sordida is a probable sylvatic vector of TcI linked to D. albiventris, and could represent a secondary vector of TcVI and TcV in the domestic/peridomestic cycle.
Trypanosoma cruzi; Discrete Typing Units; PCR; Triatoma infestans; Triatoma sordida Chagas disease
The biological membranes of Trypanosoma brucei contain a complex array of phospholipids that are synthesized de novo from precursors obtained either directly from the host, or as catabolised endocytosed lipids. This paper describes the use of nanoflow electrospray tandem mass spectrometry and high resolution mass spectrometry in both positive and negative ion modes, allowing the identification of ~500 individual molecular phospholipids species from total lipid extracts of cultured bloodstream and procyclic form T. brucei. Various molecular species of all of the major subclasses of glycerophospholipids were identified including phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidylinositol as well as phosphatidic acid, phosphatidylglycerol and cardolipin, and the sphingolipids sphingomyelin, inositol phosphoceramide and ethanolamine phosphoceramide. The lipidomic data obtained in this study will aid future biochemical phenotyping of either genetically or chemically manipulated commonly used bloodstream and procyclic strains of Trypanosoma brucei. Hopefully this will allow a greater understanding of the bizarre world of lipids in this important human pathogen.
Phospholipid; Trypanosoma brucei; mass spectrometry; lipidomics
The adenophorean nematodes are evolutionarily distant from other species in the phylum Nematoda. Interspecific comparisons of predicted proteins have supported such an ancient divergence. Accordingly, Trichinella spiralis represents a basal nematode representative for genome sequencing focused on gaining a deeper insight into the evolutionary biology of nematodes. In addition, molecular characteristics that are conserved across the phylum could be of great value for control strategies with broad application. In this review, we describe and summarize progress that has been made on the sequencing and analysis of the T. spiralis genome. The genome sequence was used in preliminary analyses for the investigation of specific questions relating to the biology of T. spiralis and, more generally, to parasitic nematodes. For instance, we evaluated an unusually large DNase II-like protein family, predicted proteins of prospective interest in the parasite-host muscle cell interaction, anthelmintic targets and prospective intestinal genes, the encoded proteins (potentially) linked to immunological control against other nematodes. The results are discussed in relation to characteristics that are broadly conserved among evolutionary distant nematodes. The results lead to expectations that this genome sequence will contribute to advances in research on T. spiralis and other parasitic nematodes.
Trichinella spiralis; expressed sequence tags; ESTs; genome; sequencing; intestine; host-parasite interactions
Draft genome sequences for Schistosoma japonicum and S. mansoni are now available. The schistosome genome encodes ~13000 protein-encoding genes for which the functions of few are well understood. Nonetheless, the new genes represent potential intervention targets, and molecular tools are being developed to determine their importance. Over the past 15 years, noteworthy progress has been achieved towards development of tools for gene manipulation and transgenesis of schistosomes. A brief history of genetic manipulation is presented, along with a review of the field with emphasis on reports of integration of transgenes into schistosome chromosomes.
Schistosomes; genetic manipulation; transgenesis; chromosome integration; germ line; retrovirus; murine leukaemia virus; pseudotyped gammaretrovirus; transposon; piggyBac
Humans and other hosts acquire Toxoplasma gondii infection by ingesting tissue cysts in undercooked meat, or by food or drink contaminated with oocysts. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent clinical disease due this parasite in humans, although, various T. gondii vaccine candidates are being developed. Mice are generally used to test the protective efficacy of vaccines because they are susceptible, reagents are available to measure immune parameters, in mice, and they are easily managed in the laboratory. In the present study, pathogenesis of toxoplasmosis was studied in mice of different strains, including Human leukocyte antigen(HLA) transgenic mice infected with different doses of T. gondii strains of different genotypes derived from several countries. Based on many experiments, the decreasing order of infectivity and pathogenicity of oocysts was: interferon gamma gene knock out (KO), HLA 3.11, HLA 2.1, HLA B7, Swiss Webster, C57/black, and BALB/c. Mice fed as few as 1 oocyst of Type I and several atypical strains died of acute toxoplasmosis within 21 days p.i. Type II, and III strains were less virulent. The model developed herein should prove to be extremely useful for testing vaccines because it is possible to accurately quantitate a challenge inoculum, test response to different strains of T. gondii using the same preparations of oocysts which are stable for up to a year, and to have highly reproducible responses to the infection.
Toxoplasma gondii; oocysts; different genotypes; pathogenicity; different mouse strains including interferon gamma knockout and HLA transgenic mice
With rapid developments in DNA and protein sequencing technologies, combined with powerful bioinformatics tools, a continued acceleration of gene identification in parasitic helminths is predicted, potentially leading to discovery of new drug and vaccine targets, enhanced diagnostics and insights into the complex biology underlying host-parasite interactions. For the schistosome blood flukes, with the recent completion of genome sequencing and comprehensive transcriptomic datasets, there has accumulated massive amounts of gene sequence data, for which, in the vast majority of cases, little is known about actual functions within the intact organism. In this review we attempt to bring together traditional in vitro cultivation approaches and recent emergent technologies of molecular genomics, transcriptomics and genetic manipulation to illustrate the considerable progress made in our understanding of trematode gene expression and function during development of the intramolluscan larval stages. Using several prominent trematode families (Schistosomatidae, Fasciolidae, Echinostomatidae), we have focused on the current status of in vitro larval isolation/cultivation as a source of valuable raw material supporting gene discovery efforts in model digeneans that include whole genome sequencing, transcript and protein expression profiling during larval development, and progress made in the in vitro manipulation of genes and their expression in larval trematodes using transgenic and RNA interference (RNAi) approaches.
Trematoda; larval stages; Schistosoma; in vitro culture; genome; transcriptome; gene manipulation; transgenesis; RNA interference
Artemisinin-based combination therapy is exerting novel selective pressure upon populations of Plasmodium falciparum across Africa. Levels of resistance to non-artemisinin partner drugs differ among parasite populations, and so the artemisinins are not uniformly protected from developing resistance, already present in South East Asia. Here, we consider strategies for prolonging the period of high level efficacy of combination therapy for two particular endemicities common in Africa. Under high intensity transmission, two alternating first-line combinations, ideally with antagonistic selective effects on the parasite genome, are advocated for paediatric malaria cases. This leaves second-line and other therapies for adult cases, and for intermittent preventive therapy. The drug portfolio would be selected to protect the “premier” combination regimen from selection for resistance, while maximising impact on severe disease and mortality in children. In endemic areas subject to low, seasonal transmission of Plasmodium falciparum, such a strategy may deliver little benefit, as children represent a minority of cases. Nevertheless, the deployment of other drug-based interventions in low transmission and highly seasonal areas, such as mass drug administration aimed to interrupt malaria transmission, or intermittent preventive therapy, does provide an opportunity to diversify drug pressure. We thus propose an integrated approach to drug deployment, which minimises direct selective pressure on parasite populations from any one drug component. This approach is suitable for qualitatively and quantitatively different burdens of malaria, and should be supported by a programme of routine surveillance for emerging resistance.
Systems biology aims to integrate multiple biological data types such as genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics across different levels of structure and scale; it represents an emerging paradigm in the scientific process which challenges the reductionism that has dominated biomedical research for hundreds of years. Systems biology will nevertheless only be successful if the technologies on which it is based are able to deliver the required type and quality of data. In this review we discuss how well positioned is proteomics to deliver the data necessary to support meaningful systems modelling in parasite biology. We summarise the current state of identification proteomics in parasites, but argue that a new generation of quantitative proteomics data is now needed to underpin effective systems modelling. We discuss the challenges faced to acquire more complete knowledge of protein post-translational modifications, protein turnover and protein-protein interactions in parasites. Finally we highlight the central role of proteome-informatics in ensuring that proteomics data is readily accessible to the user-community and can be translated and integrated with other relevant data types.
Systems-biology; proteomics; transcriptomics; genomics; parasites; host-parasite interactions; Descartes; reductionism
The current trend of antimony (Sb) unresponsiveness in the Indian subcontinent is a major impediment to effective chemotherapy of visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Although contributory mechanisms studied in laboratory raised Sb-R parasites include an up regulation of drug efflux pumps and increased thiols, their role in clinical isolates is not yet substantiated. Accordingly, our objectives were to study the contributory role of thiols in generation of Sb unresponsiveness in clinical isolates. Promastigotes were isolated from VL patients who were either Sb responsive (n = 2) or unresponsive (n = 3). Levels of thiols as measured by HPLC and flow cytometry showed higher basal levels of thiols and a faster rate of thiol regeneration in Sb unresponsive strains as compared with sensitive strains. The effects of antimony on generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in normal and thiol depleted conditions as also their H2O2 scavenging activity indicated that in unresponsive parasites, Sb mediated ROS generation was curtailed which could be reversed by depletion of thiols and was accompanied by a higher H2O2 scavenging activity. Higher levels of thiols in Sb unresponsive field isolates from patients with VL protects parasites from Sb mediated oxidative stress, thereby contributing to the antimony resistance phenotype.
visceral leishmaniasis; antimonial resistance; thiols; oxidative stress; reactive oxygen species
In sub-Saharan Africa, over 22 million people are estimated to be co-infected with both helminths and HIV-1. Several studies have suggested that de-worming individuals with HIV-1 may delay HIV-1 disease progression, and that the benefit of de-worming may vary by individual helminth species. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the published literature to determine the effect of treatment of individual helminth infections on markers of HIV-1 progression (CD4 count and HIV viral load). There was a trend towards an association between treatment for Schistosoma mansoni and a decrease in HIV viral load (Weighted mean difference (WMD)=−0·10; 95% Confidence interval (CI): −0·24, 0·03), although this association was not seen for Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworm or Trichuris trichiura. Treatment of A. lumbricoides, S. mansoni, hookworm or T. trichiura was not associated with a change in CD4 count. While pooled data from randomized trials suggested clinical benefit of de-worming for individual helminth species, these effects decreased when observational data were included in the pooled analysis. While further trials are needed to confirm the role of anthelmintic treatment in HIV-1 co-infected individuals, providing anthelmintics to individuals with HIV-1 may be a safe, inexpensive and practical intervention to slow progression of HIV-1.
Helminth; HIV-1; co-infection; meta-analysis; Kenya
Transgenesis is an essential tool for assessing gene function in any organism, and it is especially crucial for parasitic nematodes given the dwindling armamentarium of effective anthelmintics and the consequent need to validate essential molecular targets for new drugs and vaccines. Two of the major routes of gene delivery evaluated to date in parasitic nematodes, bombardment with DNA-coated microparticles and intragonadal microinjection of DNA constructs, draw upon experience with the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Bombardment has been used to transiently transfect Ascaris suum, Brugia malayi and Litomosoides sigmodontis with both RNA and DNA. Microinjection has been used to achieve heritable transgenesis in Strongyloides stercoralis, S. ratti and Parastrongyloides trichosuri and for additional transient expression studies in B. malayi. A third route of gene delivery revisits a classic method involving DNA transfer facilitated by calcium-mediated permeabilization of recipient cells in developing B. malayi larvae and results in transgene inheritance through host and vector passage. Assembly of microinjected transgenes into multi-copy episomal arrays likely results in their transcriptional silencing in some parasitic nematodes. Methods such as transposon-mediated transgenesis that favour low-copy number chromosomal integration may remedy this impediment to establishing stable transgenic lines. In the future, stable transgenesis in parasitic nematodes could enable loss-of-function approaches by insertional mutagenesis, in situ expression of inhibitory double-stranded RNA or boosting RNAi susceptibility through heterologous expression of dsRNA processing and transport proteins.
Transgenesis; transfection; parasitic nematode; biolistics; microinjection; transposon
African sleeping sickness is a parasitic disease transmitted through the bites of tsetse flies of the genus Glossina. We constructed mechanistic models for the basic reproduction number, R0, of Trypanosoma brucei gambiense and Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, respectively the causative agents of West and East African human sleeping sickness. We present global sensitivity analyses of these models that rank the importance of the biological parameters that may explain variation in R0, using parameter ranges based on literature, field data and expertize out of Uganda. For West African sleeping sickness, our results indicate that the proportion of bloodmeals taken from humans by Glossina fuscipes fuscipes is the most important factor, suggesting that differences in the exposure of humans to tsetse are fundamental to the distribution of T. b. gambiense. The second ranked parameter for T. b. gambiense and the highest ranked for T. b. rhodesiense was the proportion of Glossina refractory to infection. This finding underlines the possible implications of recent work showing that nutritionally stressed tsetse are more susceptible to trypanosome infection, and provides broad support for control strategies in development that are aimed at increasing refractoriness in tsetse flies. We note though that for T. b. rhodesiense the population parameters for tsetse – species composition, survival and abundance – were ranked almost as highly as the proportion refractory, and that the model assumed regular treatment of livestock with trypanocides as an established practice in the areas of Uganda experiencing East African sleeping sickness.
trypanosomiasis; next-generation matrix; mathematical model; Trypanosoma brucei gambiense; Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense
Multiple factors affect schistosomiasis transmission in distributed meta-population systems including age, behaviour, and environment. The traditional approach to modelling macroparasite transmission often exploits the ‘mean worm burden’ (MWB) formulation for human hosts. However, typical worm distribution in humans is overdispersed, and classic models either ignore this characteristic or make ad hoc assumptions about its pattern (e.g., by assuming a negative binomial distribution). Such over simplifications can give wrong predictions for the impact of control interventions.
We propose a new modelling approach to macro-parasite transmission by stratifying human populations according to worm burden, and replacing MWB dynamics with that of ‘population strata’. We developed proper calibration procedures for such multi-component systems, based on typical epidemiological and demographic field data, and implemented them using Wolfram Mathematica.
Model programming and calibration proved to be straightforward. Our calibrated system provided good agreement with the individual level field data from the Msambweni region of eastern Kenya.
The Stratified Worm Burden (SWB) approach offers many advantages, in that it accounts naturally for overdispersion and accommodates other important factors and measures of human infection and demographics. Future work will apply this model and methodology to evaluate innovative control intervention strategies, including expanded drug treatment programmes proposed by the World Health Organization and its partners.
models; theoretical; schistosomiasis; disease transmission; infections; environmental and behavioural risk
The Consortium for Anthelmintic Resistance and Susceptibility (CARS) brings together researchers worldwide, with a focus of advancing knowledge of resistance and providing information on detection methods and treatment strategies. Advances in this field suggest mechanisms and features of resistance that are shared among different classes of anthelmintic. Benzimidazole resistance is characterized by specific amino acid substitutions in beta-tubulin. If present, these substitutions increase in frequency upon drug treatment and lead to treatment failure. In the laboratory, sequence substitutions in ion-channels can contribute to macrocyclic lactone resistance, but there is little evidence that they are significant in the field. Changes in gene expression are associated with resistance to several different classes of anthelmintic. Increased P-glycoprotein expression may prevent drug access to its site of action. Decreased expression of ion-channel subunits and the loss of specific receptors may remove the drug target. Tools for the identification and genetic analysis of parasitic nematodes and a new online database will help to coordinate research efforts in this area. Resistance may result from a loss of sensitivity as well as the appearance of resistance. A focus on the presence of anthelmintic susceptibility may be as important as the detection of resistance.
anthelmintic resistance; benzimidazole; macrocyclic lactone; levamisole; monepantel; ligand-gated ion-channel; P-glycoprotein; beta-tubulin
With increasing resistance to anti-parasitic drugs, it has become more important to detect and recognize phenotypes of resistant isolates. Molecular methods of detecting resistant isolates are limited at present. Here, we introduce a microfluidic bioassay to measure phenotype using parameters of nematode locomotion. We illustrate the technique on larvae of an animal parasite Oesophagostomum dentatum. Parameters of sinusoidal motion such as propagation velocity, wavelength, wave amplitude, and oscillation frequency depended on the levamisole-sensitivity of the isolate of parasitic nematode. The levamisole-sensitive isolate (SENS) had a mean wave amplitude of 135 μm, which was larger than 123 μm of the levamisole-resistant isolate (LEVR). SENS had a mean wavelength of 373 μm, which was less than 393 μm of LEVR. The mean propagation velocity of SENS, 149 μm s−1, was similar to LEVR, 143 μm s−1. The propagation velocity of the isolates was inhibited by levamisole in a concentration-dependent manner above 0.5 μM. The EC50 for SENS was 3 μM and the EC50 for LEVR was 10 μM. This microfluidic technology advances present-day nematode migration assays and provides a better quantification and increased drug sensitivity. It is anticipated that the bioassay will facilitate study of resistance to other anthelmintic drugs that affect locomotion.
microfluidics; bioassay; Oesophagostomum dentatum; levamisole resistance; phenotype
The evolutionary history of human malaria parasites (genus Plasmodium) has long been a subject of speculation and controversy. The complete genome sequences of the two most widespread human malaria parasites, P. falciparum and P. vivax, and of the monkey parasite P. knowlesi are now available, together with the draft genomes of the chimpanzee parasite P. reichenowi, three rodent parasites, P. yoelii yoelli, P. berghei and P. chabaudi chabaudi, and one avian parasite, P. gallinaceum.
We present here an analysis of 45 orthologous gene sequences across the eight species that resolves the relationships of major Plasmodium lineages, and provides the first comprehensive dating of the age of those groups.
Our analyses support the hypothesis that the last common ancestor of P. falciparum and the chimpanzee parasite P. reichenowi occurred around the time of the human-chimpanzee divergence. P. falciparum infections of African apes are most likely derived from humans and not the other way around. On the other hand, P. vivax, split from the monkey parasite P. knowlesi in the much more distant past, during the time that encompasses the separation of the Great Apes and Old World Monkeys.
The results support an ancient association between malaria parasites and their primate hosts, including humans.
Giardia lamblia, a protozoan parasite, infects a wide variety of vertebrates, including humans. Studies indicate that this anaerobic protist possesses a limited ability to synthesize lipid molecules de novo and depends on supplies from its environment for growth and differentiation. It has been suggested that most lipids and fatty acids are taken up by endocytic and non-endocytic pathways and are used by Giardia for energy production and membrane/organelle biosynthesis. The purpose of this article is to provide an update on recent progress in the field of lipid research of this parasite and the validation of lipid metabolic pathways through recent genomic information. Based on current cellular, biochemical and genomic data, a comprehensive pathway has been proposed to facilitate our understanding of lipid and fatty acid metabolism/syntheses in this waterborne pathogen. We envision that the current review will be helpful in identifying targets from the pathways that could be used to design novel therapies to control giardiasis and related diseases.
Genomes of the major human helminth parasites, and indeed many others of agricultural significance, are now the research focus of intensive genome sequencing and annotation. A draft genome sequence of the filarial parasite Brugia malayi was reported in 2007 and draft genomes of two of the human schistosomes, Schistosoma japonicum and S. mansoni reported in 2009. These genome data provide the basis for a comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in schistosome nutrition and metabolism, host-dependent development and maturation, immune evasion and invertebrate evolution. In addition, new potential vaccine candidates and drug targets will likely be predicted. However, testing these predictions is often not straightforward with schistosomes because of the difficulty and expense in maintenance of the developmental cycle. To facilitate this goal, several developmental stages can be maintained in vitro for shorter or longer intervals of time, and these are amenable to manipulation. Our research interests focus on experimental studies of schistosome gene functions, and more recently have focused on development of transgenesis and RNA interference with the longer term aim of heritable gene manipulation. Here we review methods to isolate and culture developmental stages of Schistosoma mansoni, including eggs, sporocysts, schistosomules and adults, in particular as these procedures relate to approaches for gene manipulation. We also discuss recent advances in genetic manipulation of schistosomes including the deployment of square wave electroporation to introduce reporter genes into cultured schistosomes.
Schistosome; sporocyst; schistosomule; egg; in vitro culture; electroporation