Wolbachia pipientis, a diverse group of α-proteobacteria, can alter arthropod host reproduction and confer a reproductive advantage to Wolbachia-infected females (cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI)). This advantage can alter host population genetics because Wolbachia-infected females produce more offspring with their own mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotypes than uninfected females. Thus, these host haplotypes become common or fixed (selective sweep). Although simulations suggest that for a CI-mediated sweep to occur, there must be a transient phase with repeated initial infections of multiple individual hosts by different Wolbachia strains, this has not been observed empirically. Wolbachia has been found in the tsetse fly, Glossina fuscipes fuscipes, but it is not limited to a single host haplotype, suggesting that CI did not impact its population structure. However, host population genetic differentiation could have been generated if multiple Wolbachia strains interacted in some populations. Here, we investigated Wolbachia genetic variation in G. f. fuscipes populations of known host genetic composition in Uganda. We tested for the presence of multiple Wolbachia strains using Multi-Locus Sequence Typing (MLST) and for an association between geographic region and host mtDNA haplotype using Wolbachia DNA sequence from a variable locus, groEL (heat shock protein 60).
MLST demonstrated that some G. f. fuscipes carry Wolbachia strains from two lineages. GroEL revealed high levels of sequence diversity within and between individuals (Haplotype diversity = 0.945). We found Wolbachia associated with 26 host mtDNA haplotypes, an unprecedented result. We observed a geographical association of one Wolbachia lineage with southern host mtDNA haplotypes, but it was non-significant (p = 0.16). Though most Wolbachia-infected host haplotypes were those found in the contact region between host mtDNA groups, this association was non-significant (p = 0.17).
High Wolbachia sequence diversity and the association of Wolbachia with multiple host haplotypes suggest that different Wolbachia strains infected G. f. fuscipes multiple times independently. We suggest that these observations reflect a transient phase in Wolbachia evolution that is influenced by the long gestation and low reproductive output of tsetse. Although G. f. fuscipes is superinfected with Wolbachia, our data does not support that bidirectional CI has influenced host genetic diversity in Uganda.
Wolbachia; Population structure; Sequence diversity; groEL; MLST
Tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) are vectors for African trypanosomes (Euglenozoa: kinetoplastida), protozoan parasites that cause African trypanosomiasis in humans (HAT) and nagana in livestock. In addition to trypanosomes, two symbiotic bacteria (Wigglesworthia glossinidia and Sodalis glossinidius) and two parasitic microbes, Wolbachia and a salivary gland hypertrophy virus (SGHV), have been described in tsetse. Here we determined the prevalence of and coinfection dynamics between Wolbachia, trypanosomes, and SGHV in Glossina fuscipes fuscipes in Uganda over a large geographical scale spanning the range of host genetic and spatial diversity. Using a multivariate analysis approach, we uncovered complex coinfection dynamics between the pathogens and statistically significant associations between host genetic groups and pathogen prevalence. It is important to note that these coinfection dynamics and associations with the host were not apparent by univariate analysis. These associations between host genotype and pathogen are particularly evident for Wolbachia and SGHV where host groups are inversely correlated for Wolbachia and SGHV prevalence. On the other hand, trypanosome infection prevalence is more complex and covaries with the presence of the other two pathogens, highlighting the importance of examining multiple pathogens simultaneously before making generalizations about infection and spatial patterns. It is imperative to note that these novel findings would have been missed if we had employed the standard univariate analysis used in previous studies. Our results are discussed in the context of disease epidemiology and vector control.
During pregnancy in the viviparous tsetse fly, lipid mobilization is essential for the production of milk to feed the developing intrauterine larva. Lipophorin (Lp) functions as the major lipid transport protein in insects and closely-related arthropods. In this study, we assessed the role of Lp and the lipophorin receptor (LpR) in the lipid mobilization process during tsetse reproduction. We identified single gene sequences for GmmLp and GmmLpR from the genome of Glossina morsitans morsitans, and measured spatial and temporal expression of gmmlp and gmmlpr during the female reproductive cycle. Our results show that expression of gmmlp is specific to the adult fat body and larvae. In the adult female, gmmlp expression is constitutive. However transcript levels increase in the larva as it matures within the mother’s uterus, reaching peak expression just prior to parturition. GmmLp was detected in the hemolymph of pregnant females and larvae, but not in the uterine fluid or larval gut contents ruling out the possibility of direct transfer of GmmLp from mother to offspring. Transcripts for gmmlpr were detected in the head, ovaries, midgut, milk gland/fat body, ovaries and developing larva. Levels of gmmlpr remain stable throughout the first and second gonotrophic cycles with a slight dip observed during the first gonotrophic cycle. GmmLpR was detected in multiple tissues, including the midgut, fat body, milk gland, spermatheca and head. Knockdown of gmmlp by RNA interference resulted in reduced hemolymph lipid levels, delayed oocyte development and extended larval gestation. Similar suppresion of gmmlpr did not significantly reduce hemolymph lipid levels or oogenesis duration, but did extend the duration of larval development. Thus, GmmLp and GmmLpR function as the primary shuttle for lipids originating from the midgut and fat body to the ovaries and milk gland to supply resources for developing oocytes and larval nourishment, respectively. Once in the milk gland however, lipids are apparently transferred into the developing larva not by lipophorin but by another carrier lipoprotein.
Lipid movement; lipophorin; tsetse development; Glossina
Insect symbioses lack the complexity and diversity of those associated with higher eukaryotic hosts. Symbiotic microbiomes are beneficial to their insect hosts in many ways, including dietary supplementation, tolerance to environmental perturbations and maintenance and/or enhancement of host immune system homeostasis. Recent studies have also highlighted the importance of the microbiome in the context of host pathogen transmission processes. Here we provide an overview of the relationship between insect disease vectors, such as tsetse flies and mosquitoes, and their associated microbiome. Several mechanisms are discussed through which symbiotic microbes may influence their host’s ability to transmit pathogens, as well as potential disease control strategies that harness symbiotic microbes to reduce pathogen transmission through an insect vector.
Insect seminal fluid is a complex mixture of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids, produced in the male reproductive tract. This seminal fluid is transferred together with the spermatozoa during mating and induces post-mating changes in the female. Molecular characterization of seminal fluid proteins in the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata, is limited, although studies suggest that some of these proteins are biologically active.
We report on the functional annotation of 5914 high quality expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from the testes and male accessory glands, to identify transcripts encoding putative secreted peptides that might elicit post-mating responses in females. The ESTs were assembled into 3344 contigs, of which over 33% produced no hits against the nr database, and thus may represent novel or rapidly evolving sequences. Extraction of the coding sequences resulted in a total of 3371 putative peptides. The annotated dataset is available as a hyperlinked spreadsheet. Four hundred peptides were identified with putative secretory activity, including odorant binding proteins, protease inhibitor domain-containing peptides, antigen 5 proteins, mucins, and immunity-related sequences. Quantitative RT-PCR-based analyses of a subset of putative secretory protein-encoding transcripts from accessory glands indicated changes in their abundance after one or more copulations when compared to virgin males of the same age. These changes in abundance, particularly evident after the third mating, may be related to the requirement to replenish proteins to be transferred to the female.
We have developed the first large-scale dataset for novel studies on functions and processes associated with the reproductive biology of Ceratitis capitata. The identified genes may help study genome evolution, in light of the high adaptive potential of the medfly. In addition, studies of male recovery dynamics in terms of accessory gland gene expression profiles and correlated remating inhibition mechanisms may permit the improvement of pest management approaches.
Glossina fuscipes fuscipes is the primary vector of trypanosomiasis in humans and livestock in Uganda. The Lake Victoria basin has been targeted for tsetse eradication using a rolling carpet initiative, from west to east, with four operational blocks (3 in Uganda and 1 in Kenya), under a Pan-African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC). We screened tsetse flies from the three Ugandan PATTEC blocks for genetic diversity at 15 microsatellite loci from continental and offshore populations to provide empirical data to support this initiative.
We collected tsetse samples from 11 sites across the Lake Victoria basin in Uganda. We performed genetic analyses on 409 of the collected tsetse flies and added data collected for 278 individuals in a previous study. The flies were screened across 15 microsatellite loci and the resulting data were used to assess the temporal stability of populations, to analyze patterns of genetic exchange and structuring, to estimate dispersal rates and evaluate the sex bias in dispersal, as well as to estimate demographic parameters (NE and NC).
We found that tsetse populations in this region were stable over 4-16 generations and belong to 4 genetic clusters. Two genetic clusters (1 and 2) corresponded approximately to PATTEC blocks 1 and 2, while the other two (3 and 4) fell within PATTEC block 3. Island populations grouped into the same genetic clusters as neighboring mainland sites, suggesting presence of gene flow between these sites. There was no evidence of the stretch of water separating islands from the mainland forming a significant barrier to dispersal. Dispersal rates ranged from 2.5 km per generation in cluster 1 to 14 km per generation in clusters 3 and 4. We found evidence of male-biased dispersal. Few breeders are successfully dispersing over large distances. Effective population size estimates were low (33–310 individuals), while census size estimates ranged from 1200 (cluster 1) to 4100 (clusters 3 and 4). We present here a novel technique that adapts an existing census size estimation method to sampling without replacement, the scheme used in sampling tsetse flies.
Our study suggests that different control strategies should be implemented for the three PATTEC blocks and that, given the high potential for re-invasion from island sites, mainland and offshore sites in each block should be targeted at the same time.
Glossina fuscipes fuscipes; Tsetse; Tryaponosomiasis; Vector; Gene flow; Census size
Wolbachia are widespread endosymbionts found in a large variety of arthropods. While these bacteria are generally transmitted vertically and exhibit weak virulence in their native hosts, a growing number of studies suggests that horizontal transfers of Wolbachia to new host species also occur frequently in nature. In transfer situations, virulence variations can be predicted since hosts and symbionts are not adapted to each other. Here, we describe a situation where a Wolbachia strain (wVulC) becomes a pathogen when transfected from its native terrestrial isopod host species (Armadillidium vulgare) to another species (Porcellio d. dilatatus). Such transfer of wVulC kills all recipient animals within 75 days. Before death, animals suffer symptoms such as growth slowdown and nervous system disorders. Neither those symptoms nor mortalities were observed after injection of wVulC into its native host A. vulgare. Analyses of wVulC's densities in main organs including Central Nervous System (CNS) of both naturally infected A. vulgare and transfected P. d. dilatatus and A. vulgare individuals revealed a similar pattern of host colonization suggesting an overall similar resistance of both host species towards this bacterium. However, for only P. d. dilatatus, we observed drastic accumulations of autophagic vesicles and vacuoles in the nerve cells and adipocytes of the CNS from individuals infected by wVulC. The symptoms and mortalities could therefore be explained by this huge autophagic response against wVulC in P. d. dilatatus cells that is not triggered in A. vulgare. Our results show that Wolbachia (wVulC) can lead to a pathogenic interaction when transferred horizontally into species that are phylogenetically close to their native hosts. This change in virulence likely results from the autophagic response of the host, strongly altering its tolerance to the symbiont and turning it into a deadly pathogen.
Characterizing the causes of a virulence increase when a parasite jumps from one host species to another is fundamental to the understanding of disease emergence. In this context, we studied the bacterium Wolbachia wVulC, a natural symbiont of one terrestrial isopod species that becomes a pathogen when transfected into individuals of another species. Before death, recipient animals suffer various symptoms including nervous system disorders caused by the multiplication of wVulC. Interestingly, the quantification of wVulC loads showed similar titers in the individuals from both the recipient and native species. The difference between the two host species lies in the way they respond to the invasion of wVulC and not in their resistance per se: While the recipient host species exhibits an acute autophagic response leading to central nervous system cells disorganization, this phenomenon was not observed in the native host species, which seems to better tolerate the bacterium. Together, our results show that tolerance can be a better evolutionary strategy to counteract parasite damage than to activate a putative resistance pathway which, as a double-edged sword, can arm the host itself and increase the virulence of a parasite.
Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (Tbr) and T. b. gambiense (Tbg), causative agents of Human African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) in Africa, have evolved alternative mechanisms of resisting the activity of trypanosome lytic factors (TLFs), components of innate immunity in human serum that protect against infection by other African trypanosomes. In Tbr, lytic activity is suppressed by the Tbr-specific serum-resistance associated (SRA) protein. The mechanism in Tbg is less well understood but has been hypothesized to involve altered activity and expression of haptoglobin haemoglobin receptor (HpHbR). HpHbR has been shown to facilitate internalization of TLF-1 in T.b. brucei (Tbb), a member of the T. brucei species complex that is susceptible to human serum. By evaluating the genetic variability of HpHbR in a comprehensive geographical and taxonomic context, we show that a single substitution that replaces leucine with serine at position 210 is conserved in the most widespread form of Tbg (Tbg group 1) and not found in related taxa, which are either human serum susceptible (Tbb) or known to resist lysis via an alternative mechanism (Tbr and Tbg group 2). We hypothesize that this single substitution contributes to reduced uptake of TLF and thus may play a key role in conferring serum resistance to Tbg group 1. In contrast, similarity in HpHbR sequence among isolates of Tbg group 2 and Tbb/Tbr provides further evidence that human serum resistance in Tbg group 2 is likely independent of HpHbR function.
Human African Trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, is caused by two different parasites: Trypanosoma brucei gambiense (Tbg) and T. b. rhodesiense (Tbr). Each parasite employs a different mechanism to resist trypanosome lytic factor (TLF), the active innate immune component of human serum. In Tbg group 1, which causes the vast majority of disease cases, the mechanism is thought to involve the reduced activity of a receptor involved in binding and internalizing TLF. In this study, we investigate genetic variation in this receptor across a broad geographic sample of Tbg and closely related trypanosomes to test whether unique polymorphisms in the receptor from Tbg may explain its altered function. We identified a single mutation in all copies of the receptor gene sequenced from Tbg but not in any other closely related species. This finding suggests that this single mutation could play a key role in conferring human infectivity to Tbg. Given the possible consequences for drug development and diagnostics, we suggest that future functional studies target this mutation to fully elucidate its role.
Human African Trypanosomiasis is a devastating disease caused by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei. Trypanosomes live extracellularly in both the tsetse fly and the mammal. Trypanosome surface proteins can directly interact with the host environment, allowing parasites to effectively establish and maintain infections. Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchoring is a common posttranslational modification associated with eukaryotic surface proteins. In T. brucei, three GPI-anchored major surface proteins have been identified: variant surface glycoproteins (VSGs), procyclic acidic repetitive protein (PARP or procyclins), and brucei alanine rich proteins (BARP). The objective of this study was to select genes encoding predicted GPI-anchored proteins with unknown function(s) from the T. brucei genome and characterize the expression profile of a subset during cyclical development in the tsetse and mammalian hosts. An initial in silico screen of putative T. brucei proteins by Big PI algorithm identified 163 predicted GPI-anchored proteins, 106 of which had no known functions. Application of a second GPI-anchor prediction algorithm (FragAnchor), signal peptide and trans-membrane domain prediction software resulted in the identification of 25 putative hypothetical proteins. Eighty-one gene products with hypothetical functions were analyzed for stage-regulated expression using semi-quantitative RT-PCR. The expression of most of these genes were found to be upregulated in trypanosomes infecting tsetse salivary gland and proventriculus tissues, and 38% were specifically expressed only by parasites infecting salivary gland tissues. Transcripts for all of the genes specifically expressed in salivary glands were also detected in mammalian infective metacyclic trypomastigotes, suggesting a possible role for these putative proteins in invasion and/or establishment processes in the mammalian host. These results represent the first large-scale report of the differential expression of unknown genes encoding predicted T. brucei surface proteins during the complete developmental cycle. This knowledge may form the foundation for the development of future novel transmission blocking strategies against metacyclic parasites.
Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) is a fatal disease caused by African trypanosomes and transmitted by an infected tsetse fly. Presently, there are no vaccines to prevent mammalian infections. Proteins expressed on the trypanosome surface can influence the host environment and allow for their transmission. Potentially accessible to the adaptive immune systems of vertebrate hosts, these proteins could serve as future vaccine targets. Identification and characterization of these currently unknown proteins can help us develop strategies to alter the host environment, making it inhospitable for the parasite, thereby reducing disease transmission. While there is extensive knowledge about trypanosome development in the mammalian host, less is known about the molecular events in the tsetse fly, particularly the salivary gland stages. We used an in silico approach to identify putative surface proteins from the known genome sequence of Trypanosoma brucei, and we describe the stage specific expression of these genes during development in the tsetse fly and mammalian host. Our findings show that a majority of unknown transcripts encoding predicted surface proteins are expressed by the parasites infecting tsetse salivary glands. These data will help focus future investigations into transmission-blocking approaches targeting the expressed antigens of trypanosomes infecting tsetse salivary glands.
Vertical transmission of obligate symbionts generates a predictable evolutionary history of symbionts that reflects that of their hosts. In insects, evolutionary associations between symbionts and their hosts have been investigated primarily among species, leaving population-level processes largely unknown. In this study, we investigated the tsetse (Diptera: Glossinidae) bacterial symbiont, Wigglesworthia glossinidia, to determine whether observed codiversification of symbiont and tsetse host species extends to a single host species (Glossina fuscipes fuscipes) in Uganda. To explore symbiont genetic variation in G. f. fuscipes populations, we screened two variable loci (lon and lepA) from the Wigglesworthia glossinidia bacterium in the host species Glossina fuscipes fuscipes (W. g. fuscipes) and examined phylogeographic and demographic characteristics in multiple host populations. Symbiont genetic variation was apparent within and among populations. We identified two distinct symbiont lineages, in northern and southern Uganda. Incongruence length difference (ILD) tests indicated that the two lineages corresponded exactly to northern and southern G. f. fuscipes mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups (P = 1.0). Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) confirmed that most variation was partitioned between the northern and southern lineages defined by host mtDNA (85.44%). However, ILD tests rejected finer-scale congruence within the northern and southern populations (P = 0.009). This incongruence was potentially due to incomplete lineage sorting that resulted in novel combinations of symbiont genetic variants and host background. Identifying these novel combinations may have public health significance, since tsetse is the sole vector of sleeping sickness and Wigglesworthia is known to influence host vector competence. Thus, understanding the adaptive value of these host-symbiont combinations may afford opportunities to develop vector control methods.
The recent development of genetic markers for Bacillus anthracis has made it possible to monitor the spread and distribution of this pathogen during and between anthrax outbreaks. In Namibia, anthrax outbreaks occur annually in the Etosha National Park (ENP) and on private game and livestock farms. We genotyped 384 B. anthracis isolates collected between 1983–2010 to identify the possible epidemiological correlations of anthrax outbreaks within and outside the ENP and to analyze genetic relationships between isolates from domestic and wild animals. The isolates came from 20 animal species and from the environment and were genotyped using a 31-marker multi-locus-VNTR-analysis (MLVA) and, in part, by twelve single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers and four single nucleotide repeat (SNR) markers. A total of 37 genotypes (GT) were identified by MLVA, belonging to four SNP-groups. All GTs belonged to the A-branch in the cluster- and SNP-analyses. Thirteen GTs were found only outside the ENP, 18 only within the ENP and 6 both inside and outside. Genetic distances between isolates increased with increasing time between isolations. However, genetic distance between isolates at the beginning and end of the study period was relatively small, indicating that while the majority of GTs were only found sporadically, three genetically close GTs, accounting for more than four fifths of all the ENP isolates, appeared dominant throughout the study period. Genetic distances among isolates were significantly greater for isolates from different host species, but this effect was small, suggesting that while species-specific ecological factors may affect exposure processes, transmission cycles in different host species are still highly interrelated. The MLVA data were further used to establish a model of the probable evolution of GTs within the endemic region of the ENP. SNR-analysis was helpful in correlating an isolate with its source but did not elucidate epidemiological relationships.
Anthrax, the disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, is a neglected zoonotic diseases in the context of its impact on poor rural and periurban communities in Africa and other less developed areas of the world. Several regions of Namibia, the Etosha National Park in particular, are well known as being endemic areas for anthrax and, together, provide a good model for the investigation of the genetic diversity of B. anthracis circulating in livestock, wildlife and humans, and surrounding environments. The application of modern molecular strain typing techniques to the analysis of genotypic diversity, as it relates to the spatial and temporal distribution of B. anthracis strains in Namibia, is described in this paper. In particular, we demonstrate how it is possible to distinguish outbreaks of the disease caused by different strains from those caused by the spread of a single strain, to trace an outbreak strain back to its possible origin, and to track the routes of transmission of an outbreak strain within and between animal populations. The data described are relevant to all those concerned with monitoring, surveillance and prevention of the spread of anthrax in endemic areas.
The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are highly endemic but patchily distributed among the 20 countries and almost 400 million people of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and disproportionately affect an estimated 65 million people living on less than US$2 per day. Egypt has the largest number of people living in poverty of any MENA nation, while Yemen has the highest prevalence of people living in poverty. These two nations stand out for having suffered the highest rates of many NTDs, including the soil-transmitted nematode infections, filarial infections, schistosomiasis, fascioliasis, leprosy, and trachoma, although they should be recognized for recent measures aimed at NTD control. Leishmaniasis, especially cutaneous leishmaniasis, is endemic in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, and elsewhere in the region. Both zoonotic (Leishmania major) and anthroponotic (Leishmania tropica) forms are endemic in MENA in rural arid regions and urban regions, respectively. Other endemic zoonotic NTDs include cystic echinococcosis, fascioliasis, and brucellosis. Dengue is endemic in Saudi Arabia, where Rift Valley fever and Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever have also emerged. Great strides have been made towards elimination of several endemic NTDs, including lymphatic filariasis in Egypt and Yemen; schistosomiasis in Iran, Morocco, and Oman; and trachoma in Morocco, Algeria, Iran, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. A particularly noteworthy achievement is the long battle waged against schistosomiasis in Egypt, where prevalence has been brought down by regular praziquantel treatment. Conflict and human and animal migrations are key social determinants in preventing the control or elimination of NTDs in the MENA, while local political will, strengthened international and intersectoral cooperative efforts for surveillance, mass drug administration, and vaccination are essential for elimination.
Schistosomes have a well developed nervous system that coordinates virtually every activity of the parasite and therefore is considered to be a promising target for chemotherapeutic intervention. Neurotransmitter receptors, in particular those involved in neuromuscular control, are proven drug targets in other helminths but very few of these receptors have been identified in schistosomes and little is known about their roles in the biology of the worm. Here we describe a novel Schistosoma mansoni G protein-coupled receptor (named SmGPR-3) that was cloned, expressed heterologously and shown to be activated by dopamine, a well established neurotransmitter of the schistosome nervous system. SmGPR-3 belongs to a new clade of “orphan” amine-like receptors that exist in schistosomes but not the mammalian host. Further analysis of the recombinant protein showed that SmGPR-3 can also be activated by other catecholamines, including the dopamine metabolite, epinine, and it has an unusual antagonist profile when compared to mammalian receptors. Confocal immunofluorescence experiments using a specific peptide antibody showed that SmGPR-3 is abundantly expressed in the nervous system of schistosomes, particularly in the main nerve cords and the peripheral innervation of the body wall muscles. In addition, we show that dopamine, epinine and other dopaminergic agents have strong effects on the motility of larval schistosomes in culture. Together, the results suggest that SmGPR-3 is an important neuronal receptor and is probably involved in the control of motor activity in schistosomes. We have conducted a first analysis of the structure of SmGPR-3 by means of homology modeling and virtual ligand-docking simulations. This investigation has identified potentially important differences between SmGPR-3 and host dopamine receptors that could be exploited to develop new, parasite-selective anti-schistosomal drugs.
Bloodflukes of the genus Schistosoma are the causative agents of human schistosomiasis, a debilitating disease that afflicts over 200 million people worldwide. There is no vaccine for schistosomiasis and treatment relies heavily on a single drug, praziquantel. Recent reports of praziquantel resistance raise concerns about future control of the disease and show the importance of developing new anti-schistosomal drugs. The focus of this research is on the nervous system of the model fluke, Schistosoma mansoni. Many pesticides and antiparasitic drugs act by interacting with neuronal proteins and therefore the nervous system is a particularly attractive target for chemotherapeutic intervention. Here we describe a novel receptor of S. mansoni that is activated by dopamine, an important neurotransmitter of the schistosome nervous system. The study provides a first in-depth analysis of this receptor and suggests that it plays an important role in the control of muscle function and movement. We also show that the schistosome receptor is substantially different from dopamine receptors of the mammalian host, both in terms of structure and functional properties. We propose that this novel protein could be used to develop new, schistosome-specific drugs aimed at disrupting parasite motility within the host.
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
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.
Wolbachia is a genus of endosymbiotic α-Proteobacteria infecting a wide range of arthropods and filarial nematodes. Wolbachia is able to induce reproductive abnormalities such as cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), thelytokous parthenogenesis, feminization and male killing, thus affecting biology, ecology and evolution of its hosts. The bacterial group has prompted research regarding its potential for the control of agricultural and medical disease vectors, including Glossina spp., which transmits African trypanosomes, the causative agents of sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in animals.
In the present study, we employed a Wolbachia specific 16S rRNA PCR assay to investigate the presence of Wolbachia in six different laboratory stocks as well as in natural populations of nine different Glossina species originating from 10 African countries. Wolbachia was prevalent in Glossina morsitans morsitans, G. morsitans centralis and G. austeni populations. It was also detected in G. brevipalpis, and, for the first time, in G. pallidipes and G. palpalis gambiensis. On the other hand, Wolbachia was not found in G. p. palpalis, G. fuscipes fuscipes and G. tachinoides. Wolbachia infections of different laboratory and natural populations of Glossina species were characterized using 16S rRNA, the wsp (Wolbachia Surface Protein) gene and MLST (Multi Locus Sequence Typing) gene markers. This analysis led to the detection of horizontal gene transfer events, in which Wobachia genes were inserted into the tsetse flies fly nuclear genome.
Wolbachia infections were detected in both laboratory and natural populations of several different Glossina species. The characterization of these Wolbachia strains promises to lead to a deeper insight in tsetse flies-Wolbachia interactions, which is essential for the development and use of Wolbachia-based biological control methods.
Tsetse flies are vectors of the protozoan parasite African trypanosomes, which cause sleeping sickness disease in humans and nagana in livestock. Although there are no effective vaccines and efficacious drugs against this parasite, vector reduction methods have been successful in curbing the disease, especially for nagana. Potential vector control methods that do not involve use of chemicals is a genetic modification approach where flies engineered to be parasite resistant are allowed to replace their susceptible natural counterparts, and Sterile Insect technique (SIT) where males sterilized by chemical means are released to suppress female fecundity. The success of genetic modification approaches requires identification of strong drive systems to spread the desirable traits and the efficacy of SIT can be enhanced by identification of natural mating incompatibility. One such drive mechanism results from the cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) phenomenon induced by the symbiont Wolbachia. CI can also be used to induce natural mating incompatibility between release males and natural populations. Although Wolbachia infections have been reported in tsetse, it has been a challenge to understand their functional biology as attempts to cure tsetse of Wolbachia infections by antibiotic treatment damages the obligate mutualistic symbiont (Wigglesworthia), without which the flies are sterile. Here, we developed aposymbiotic (symbiont-free) and fertile tsetse lines by dietary provisioning of tetracycline supplemented blood meals with yeast extract, which rescues Wigglesworthia-induced sterility. Our results reveal that Wolbachia infections confer strong CI during embryogenesis in Wolbachia-free (GmmApo) females when mated with Wolbachia-infected (GmmWt) males. These results are the first demonstration of the biological significance of Wolbachia infections in tsetse. Furthermore, when incorporated into a mathematical model, our results confirm that Wolbachia can be used successfully as a gene driver. This lays the foundation for new disease control methods including a population replacement approach with parasite resistant flies. Alternatively, the availability of males that are reproductively incompatible with natural populations can enhance the efficacy of the ongoing sterile insect technique (SIT) applications by eliminating the need for chemical irradiation.
Infections with the parasitic bacterium Wolbachia are widespread in insects and cause a number of reproductive modifications, including cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). There is growing interest in Wolbachia, as CI may be able to drive desired phenotypes such as disease resistance traits, into natural populations. Although Wolbachia infections had been reported in the medically and agriculturally important tsetse, their functional role was unknown. This is because attempts to cure tsetse of Wolbachia by antibiotic treatment damages the obligate mutualist Wigglesworthia, without which the flies are sterile. Here we have succeeded in the development of Wolbachia free and still fertile tsetse lines. Mating experiments for the first time provides evidence of strong CI in tsetse. We have incorporated our empirical data in a mathematical model and show that Wolbachia infections can be harnessed in tsetse to drive desirable phenotypes into natural populations in few generations. This finding provides additional support for the application of genetic approaches, which aim to spread parasite resistance traits in natural populations as a novel disease control method. Alternatively, releasing Wolbachia infected males can enhance Sterile Insect applications, as this will reduce the fecundity of natural females either uninfected or carrying a different strain of Wolbachia.
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.
Lymphatic filariasis (LF), a global public health problem affecting approximately 120 million people worldwide, is a leading cause of disability in the developing world including the South Pacific. Despite decades of ongoing mass drug administration (MDA) in the region, some island nations have not yet achieved the threshold levels of microfilaremia established by the World Health Organization for eliminating transmission. Previously, the generation of a novel Aedes polynesiensis strain (CP) infected with an exogenous type of Wolbachia has been described. The CP mosquito is cytoplasmically incompatible (i.e., effectively sterile) when mated with wildtype mosquitoes, and a strategy was proposed for the control of A. polynesiensis populations by repeated, inundative releases of CP males to disrupt fertility of wild females. Such a strategy could lead to suppression of the vector population and subsequently lead to a reduction in the transmission of filarial worms.
CP males and F1 male offspring from wild-caught A. polynesiensis females exhibit near equal mating competitiveness with F1 females under semi-field conditions.
While laboratory experiments are important, prior projects have demonstrated the need for additional testing under semi-field conditions in order to recognize problems before field implementation. The results reported here from semi-field experiments encourage forward progression toward small-scale field releases.
Aedes polynesiensis is the primary mosquito vector of lymphatic filariasis (LF) in the island nations of the South Pacific. Control of LF in this region of the world is difficult due to the unique biology of the mosquito vector. A proposed method to control LF in the Pacific is through the release of male mosquitoes that are effectively sterile. In order for this approach to be successful, it is critical that the modified male mosquitoes be able to compete with wild type male mosquitoes for female mates. In this study the authors examined the mating competitiveness of modified males under semi-field conditions. Modified males were released into field cages holding field-collected, virgin females and field collected wild type males. The resulting proportion of eggs that hatched was inversely related to the number of modified males released into the cage, which is consistent with the hypothesized competitiveness of modified males against indigenous males. The outcome indicates that mass release of modified A. polynesiensis mosquitoes could result in the suppression of A. polynesiensis populations and supports the continued development of applied strategies for suppression of this important disease vector.