Hemocyte differentiation mediates innate immune memory in Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes.
ABSTRACT: Mosquito midgut invasion by ookinetes of the malaria parasite Plasmodium disrupts the barriers that normally prevent the gut microbiota from coming in direct contact with epithelial cells. This triggers a long-lived response characterized by increased abundance of granulocytes, a subpopulation of hemocytes that circulates in the insect's hemocoel, and enhanced immunity to bacteria that indirectly reduces survival of Plasmodium parasites upon reinfection. In mosquitoes, differentiation of hemocytes was necessary and sufficient to confer innate immune memory.
Project description:Insects counter infection with innate immune responses that rely on cells called hemocytes. Hemocytes exist in association with the insect's open circulatory system and this mode of existence has likely influenced the organization and control of anti-pathogen immune responses. Previous studies reported that pathogens in the mosquito body cavity (hemocoel) accumulate on the surface of the heart. Using novel cell staining, microdissection and intravital imaging techniques, we investigated the mechanism of pathogen accumulation in the pericardium of the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, and discovered a novel insect immune tissue, herein named periostial hemocytes, that sequesters pathogens as they flow with the hemolymph. Specifically, we show that there are two types of endocytic cells that flank the heart: periostial hemocytes and pericardial cells. Resident periostial hemocytes engage in the rapid phagocytosis of pathogens, and during the course of a bacterial or Plasmodium infection, circulating hemocytes migrate to the periostial regions where they bind the cardiac musculature and each other, and continue the phagocytosis of invaders. Periostial hemocyte aggregation occurs in a time- and infection dose-dependent manner, and once this immune process is triggered, the number of periostial hemocytes remains elevated for the lifetime of the mosquito. Finally, the soluble immune elicitors peptidoglycan and ?-1,3-glucan also induce periostial hemocyte aggregation, indicating that this is a generalized and basal immune response that is induced by diverse immune stimuli. These data describe a novel insect cellular immune response that fundamentally relies on the physiological interaction between the insect circulatory and immune systems.
Project description:Malaria is a global public health problem, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where the mosquito Anopheles gambiae Giles serves as the major vector for the protozoan Plasmodium falciparum Welch. One determinant of malaria vector competence is the mosquito's immune system. Hemocytes are a critical component as they produce soluble immune factors that either support or prevent malaria parasite development. However, despite their importance in vector competence, understanding of their basic biology is just developing. Applying novel technologies to the study of mosquito hemocytes, we investigated the effect of blood meal on hemocyte population dynamics, DNA replication and cell cycle progression. In contrast to prevailing published work, the data presented here demonstrate that hemocytes in adult mosquitoes continue to undergo low basal levels of replication. In addition, blood ingestion caused significant changes in hemocytes within 24 h. Hemocytes displayed an increase in cell number, size, granularity and Ras-MAPK signaling as well as altered cell surface moieties. As these changes are well-known markers of immune cell activation in mammals and Drosophila melanogaster Meigen, we further investigated whether a blood meal changes the expression of hemocyte-derived immune factors. Indeed, hemocytes 24 h post-blood meal displayed higher levels of critical components of the complement and melanization immune reactions in mosquitoes. Taken together, this study demonstrates that the normal physiological process of a blood meal activates the innate immune response in mosquitoes. This process is likely in part regulated by Ras-MAPK signaling, highlighting a novel mechanistic link between blood feeding and immunity.
Project description:The immune system of adult mosquitoes has received significant attention because of the ability of females to vector disease-causing pathogens while ingesting blood meals. However, few studies have focused on the immune system of larvae, which, we hypothesize, is highly robust due to the high density and diversity of microorganisms that larvae encounter in their aquatic environments and the strong selection pressures at work in the larval stage to ensure survival to reproductive maturity. Here, we surveyed a broad range of cellular and humoral immune parameters in larvae of the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, and compared their potency to that of newly-emerged adults and older adults.We found that larvae kill bacteria in their hemocoel with equal or greater efficiency compared to newly-emerged adults, and that antibacterial ability declines further with adult age, indicative of senescence. This phenotype correlates with more circulating hemocytes and a differing spatial arrangement of sessile hemocytes in larvae relative to adults, as well as with the individual hemocytes of adults carrying a greater phagocytic burden. The hemolymph of larvae also possesses markedly stronger antibacterial lytic and melanization activity than the hemolymph of adults. Finally, infection induces a stronger transcriptional upregulation of immunity genes in larvae than in adults, including differences in the immunity genes that are regulated.These results demonstrate that immunity is strongest in larvae and declines after metamorphosis and with adult age, and suggest that adaptive decoupling, or the independent evolution of larval and adult traits made possible by metamorphosis, has occurred in the mosquito lineage.
Project description:Hemocytes synthesize key components of the mosquito complement-like system, but their role in the activation of antiplasmodial responses has not been established. The effect of activating Toll signaling in hemocytes on Plasmodium survival was investigated by transferring hemocytes or cell-free hemolymph from donor mosquitoes in which the suppressor cactus was silenced. These transfers greatly enhanced antiplasmodial immunity, indicating that hemocytes are active players in the activation of the complement-like system, through an effector/effectors regulated by the Toll pathway. A comparative analysis of hemocyte populations between susceptible G3 and the refractory L3-5 Anopheles gambiae mosquito strains did not reveal significant differences under basal conditions or in response to Plasmodium berghei infection. The response of susceptible mosquitoes to different Plasmodium species revealed similar kinetics following infection with P. berghei,P. yoelii or P. falciparum, but the strength of the priming response was stronger in less compatible mosquito-parasite pairs. The Toll, Imd,STAT or JNK signaling cascades were not essential for the production of the hemocyte differentiation factor (HDF) in response to P. berghei infection, but disruption of Toll, STAT or JNK abolished hemocyte differentiation in response to HDF. We conclude that hemocytes are key mediators of A. gambiae antiplasmodial responses.
Project description:During mosquito transmission, malaria ookinetes must cross a chitin-containing structure known as the peritrophic matrix (PM), which surrounds the infected blood meal in the mosquito midgut. In turn, ookinetes produce multiple chitinase activities presumably aimed at disrupting this physical barrier to allow ookinete invasion of the midgut epithelium. Plasmodium chitinase activities are demonstrated targets for human and avian malaria transmission blockade with the chitinase inhibitor allosamidin. Here, we identify and characterize the first chitinase gene of a rodent malaria parasite, Plasmodium berghei. We show that the gene, named PbCHT1, is a structural ortholog of PgCHT1 of the avian malaria parasite Plasmodium gallinaceum and a paralog of PfCHT1 of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Targeted disruption of PbCHT1 reduced parasite infectivity in Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes by up to 90%. Reductions in infectivity were also observed in ookinete feeds-an artificial situation where midgut invasion occurs before PM formation-suggesting that PbCHT1 plays a role other than PM disruption. PbCHT1 null mutants had no residual ookinete-derived chitinase activity in vitro, suggesting that P. berghei ookinetes express only one chitinase gene. Moreover, PbCHT1 activity appeared insensitive to allosamidin inhibition, an observation that raises questions about the use of allosamidin and components like it as potential malaria transmission-blocking drugs. Taken together, these findings suggest a fundamental divergence among rodent, avian, and human malaria parasite chitinases, with implications for the evolution of Plasmodium-mosquito interactions.
Project description:Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease affecting millions of people every year. The rodent parasite Plasmodium berghei has served as a model for human malaria transmission studies and played a pivotal role in dissecting the mosquito immune response against infection. The 6-cysteine protein P47, known to be important for P. berghei female gamete fertility, is shown to serve a different function in Plasmodium falciparum, protecting ookinetes from the mosquito immune response. Here, we investigate the function of P. berghei P47 in Anopheles gambiae mosquito infections. We show that P47 is expressed on the surface of both female gametocytes and ookinetes where it serves distinct functions in promoting gametocyte-to-ookinete development and protecting ookinetes from the mosquito complement-like response, respectively. The latter function is essential, as ookinetes lacking P47 are targeted for killing while traversing the mosquito midgut cells and eliminated upon exposure to hemolymph proteins of the complement-like system. Silencing key factors of the complement-like system restores oocyst development and disease transmission to rodent hosts. Our data establish a dual role of P. berghei P47 in vivo and reinforce the use of this parasite to study the impact of the mosquito immune response on human malaria transmission.
Project description:The mosquito complement-like system is a major defense mechanism that limits Plasmodium infection. Ookinete midgut invasion results in irreversible damage to invaded cells and triggers epithelial nitration and complement activation. Several lines of evidence suggest that hemocytes participate in early antiplasmodial responses that target ookinetes, but their role remains unclear. The fate of hemocytes in response to Plasmodium infection was investigated by labeling this cell population in vivo. We found that midgut nitration triggers the local release of hemocyte-derived microvesicles (HdMv) into the basal labyrinth of the midgut. Several different strategies, such as gene silencing, immune priming, or systemic injection of polystyrene beads, were used to either enhance or reduce HdMv release. We provide direct experimental evidence that contact of hemocytes with the nitrated midgut basal surface triggers HdMv release and that this response is necessary for effective activation of mosquito complement. Our studies suggest that hemocyte-derived microvesicles may deliver some critical factor(s) that promote activation of thioester-containing protein 1, a key effector of the mosquito antiplasmodial immunity.
Project description:Mosquitoes genetically engineered to be resistant to Plasmodium parasites represent a promising novel approach in the fight against malaria. The insect immune system itself is a source of anti-parasitic genes potentially exploitable for transgenic designs. The Anopheles gambiae thioester containing protein 1 (TEP1) is a potent anti-parasitic protein. TEP1 is secreted and circulates in the mosquito hemolymph, where its activated cleaved form binds and eliminates malaria parasites. Here we investigated whether TEP1 can be used to create malaria resistant mosquitoes. Using a GFP reporter transgene, we determined that the fat body is the main site of TEP1 expression. We generated transgenic mosquitoes that express TEP1r, a potent refractory allele of TEP1, in the fat body and examined the activity of the transgenic protein in wild-type or TEP1 mutant genetic backgrounds. Transgenic TEP1r rescued loss-of-function mutations, but did not increase parasite resistance in the presence of a wild-type susceptible allele. Consistent with previous reports, TEP1 protein expressed from the transgene in the fat body was taken up by hemocytes upon a challenge with injected bacteria. Furthermore, although maturation of transgenic TEP1 into the cleaved form was impaired in one of the TEP1 mutant lines, it was still sufficient to reduce parasite numbers and induce parasite melanization. We also report here the first use of Transcription Activator Like Effectors (TALEs) in Anopheles gambiae to stimulate expression of endogenous TEP1. We found that artificial elevation of TEP1 expression remains moderate in vivo and that enhancement of endogenous TEP1 expression did not result in increased resistance to Plasmodium. Taken together, our results reveal the difficulty of artificially influencing TEP1-mediated Plasmodium resistance, and contribute to further our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying mosquito resistance to Plasmodium parasites.
Project description:Signaling pathways controlled by reversible protein phosphorylation (catalyzed by kinases and phosphatases) in the malaria parasite Plasmodium are of great interest, for both increased understanding of parasite biology and identification of novel drug targets. Here, we report a functional analysis in Plasmodium of an ancient bacterial Shewanella-like protein phosphatase (SHLP1) found only in bacteria, fungi, protists, and plants. SHLP1 is abundant in asexual blood stages and expressed at all stages of the parasite life cycle. shlp1 deletion results in a reduction in ookinete (zygote) development, microneme formation, and complete ablation of oocyst formation, thereby blocking parasite transmission. This defect is carried by the female gamete and can be rescued by direct injection of mutant ookinetes into the mosquito hemocoel, where oocysts develop. This study emphasizes the varied functions of SHLP1 in Plasmodium ookinete biology and suggests that it could be a novel drug target for blocking parasite transmission.
Project description:Transmission of malaria is dependent on the successful completion of the Plasmodium lifecycle in the Anopheles vector. Major obstacles are encountered in the midgut tissue, where most parasites are killed by the mosquito's immune system. In the present study, DNA microarray analyses have been used to compare Anopheles gambiae responses to invasion of the midgut epithelium by the ookinete stage of the human pathogen Plasmodium falciparum and the rodent experimental model pathogen P. berghei. Invasion by P. berghei had a more profound impact on the mosquito transcriptome, including a variety of functional gene classes, while P. falciparum elicited a broader immune response at the gene transcript level. Ingestion of human malaria-infected blood lacking invasive ookinetes also induced a variety of immune genes, including several anti-Plasmodium factors. Twelve selected genes were assessed for effect on infection with both parasite species and bacteria using RNAi gene silencing assays, and seven of these genes were found to influence mosquito resistance to both parasite species. An MD2-like receptor, AgMDL1, and an immunolectin, FBN39, showed specificity in regulating only resistance to P. falciparum, while the antimicrobial peptide gambicin and a novel putative short secreted peptide, IRSP5, were more specific for defense against the rodent parasite P. berghei. While all the genes that affected Plasmodium development also influenced mosquito resistance to bacterial infection, four of the antimicrobial genes had no effect on Plasmodium development. Our study shows that the impact of P. falciparum and P. berghei infection on A. gambiae biology at the gene transcript level is quite diverse, and the defense against the two Plasmodium species is mediated by antimicrobial factors with both universal and Plasmodium-species specific activities. Furthermore, our data indicate that the mosquito is capable of sensing infected blood constituents in the absence of invading ookinetes, thereby inducing anti-Plasmodium immune responses.