RNA-Seq analysis validates the use of culture-derived Trypanosoma brucei and provides new markers for mammalian and insect life-cycle stages.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Trypanosoma brucei brucei, the parasite causing Nagana in domestic animals, is closely related to the parasites causing sleeping sickness, but does not infect humans. In addition to its importance as a pathogen, the relative ease of genetic manipulation and an innate capacity for RNAi extend its use as a model organism in cell and infection biology. During its development in its mammalian and insect (tsetse fly) hosts, T. b. brucei passes through several different life-cycle stages. There are currently four life-cycle stages that can be cultured: slender forms and stumpy forms, which are equivalent to forms found in the mammal, and early and late procyclic forms, which are equivalent to forms in the tsetse midgut. Early procyclic forms show coordinated group movement (social motility) on semi-solid surfaces, whereas late procyclic forms do not. RESULTS:RNA-Seq was performed on biological replicates of each life-cycle stage. These constitute the first datasets for culture-derived slender and stumpy bloodstream forms and early and late procyclic forms. Expression profiles confirmed that genes known to be stage-regulated in the animal and insect hosts were also regulated in culture. Sequence reads of 100-125 bases provided sufficient precision to uncover differential expression of closely related genes. More than 100 transcripts showed peak expression in stumpy forms, including adenylate cyclases and several components of inositol metabolism. Early and late procyclic forms showed differential expression of 73 transcripts, a number of which encoded proteins that were previously shown to be stage-regulated. Moreover, two adenylate cyclases previously shown to reduce social motility are up-regulated in late procyclic forms. CONCLUSIONS:This study validates the use of cultured bloodstream forms as alternatives to animal-derived parasites and yields new markers for all four stages. In addition to underpinning recent findings that early and late procyclic forms are distinct life-cycle stages, it could provide insights into the reasons for their different biological properties.
Project description:Trypanosoma brucei, causing African sleeping-sickness, exploits quorum-sensing (QS) to generate the 'stumpy forms' necessary for the parasite's transmission to tsetse-flies. These quiescent cells are generated by differentiation in the bloodstream from proliferative slender forms. Using genome-wide RNAi selection we screened for repressors of transmission stage-enriched mRNAs in slender forms, using the stumpy-elevated ESAG9 transcript as a model. This identified REG9.1, whose RNAi-silencing alleviated ESAG9 repression in slender forms and tsetse-midgut procyclic forms. Interestingly, trypanosome surface protein Family 5 and Family 7 mRNAs were also elevated, which, like ESAG9, are T. brucei specific and stumpy-enriched. We suggest these contribute to the distinct transmission biology and vector tropism of T. brucei from other African trypanosome species. As well as surface family regulation, REG9.1-depletion generated QS-independent development to stumpy forms in vivo, whereas REG9.1 overexpression in bloodstream forms potentiated spontaneous differentiation to procyclic forms in the absence of an external signal. Combined, this identifies REG9.1 as a regulator of developmental cell fate, controlling the expression of Trypanosoma brucei-specific molecules elevated during transmission.
Project description:Differentiation in African trypanosomes (Trypanosoma brucei) entails passage between a mammalian host, where parasites exist as a proliferative slender form or a G0-arrested stumpy form, and the tsetse fly. Stumpy forms arise at the peak of each parasitaemia and are committed to differentiation to procyclic forms that inhabit the tsetse midgut. We have identified a protein tyrosine phosphatase (TbPTP1) that inhibits trypanosome differentiation. Consistent with a tyrosine phosphatase, recombinant TbPTP1 exhibits the anticipated substrate and inhibitor profile, and its activity is impaired by reversible oxidation. TbPTP1 inactivation in monomorphic bloodstream trypanosomes by RNA interference or pharmacological inhibition triggers spontaneous differentiation to procyclic forms in a subset of committed cells. Consistent with this observation, homogeneous populations of stumpy forms synchronously differentiate to procyclic forms when tyrosine phosphatase activity is inhibited. Our data invoke a new model for trypanosome development in which differentiation to procyclic forms is prevented in the bloodstream by tyrosine dephosphorylation. It may be possible to use PTP1B inhibitors to block trypanosomatid transmission.
Project description:Immune evasion in African trypanosomes is principally mediated by antigenic variation, but rapid internalization of surface-bound immune factors may contribute to survival. Endocytosis is upregulated approximately 10-fold in bloodstream compared to procyclic forms, and surface coat remodeling accompanies transition between these life stages. Here we examined expression of endocytosis markers in tsetse fly stages in vivo and monitored modulation during transition from bloodstream to procyclic forms in vitro. Among bloodstream stages nonproliferative stumpy forms have endocytic activity similar to that seen with rapidly dividing slender forms, while differentiation of stumpy forms to procyclic forms is accompanied by rapid down-regulation of Rab11 and clathrin, suggesting that modulation of endocytic and recycling systems accompanies this differentiation event. Significantly, rapid down-regulation of endocytic markers occurs upon entering the insect midgut and expression of Rab11 and clathrin remains low throughout subsequent development, which suggests that high endocytic activity is not required for remodeling the parasite surface or for survival within the fly. However, salivary gland metacyclic forms dramatically increase expression of clathrin and Rab11, indicating that emergence of mammalian infective forms is coupled to reacquisition of a high-activity endocytic-recycling system. These data suggest that high-level endocytosis in Trypanosoma brucei is an adaptation required for viability in the mammalian host.
Project description:The gene expression of Trypanosoma brucei has been examined extensively in the blood of mammalian hosts and in forms found in the midgut of its arthropod vector, the tsetse fly. However, trypanosomes also undergo development within the mammalian bloodstream as they progress from morphologically 'slender forms' to transmissible 'stumpy forms' through morphological intermediates. This transition is temporally progressive within the first wave of parasitaemia such that gene expression can be monitored in relatively pure slender and stumpy populations as well as during the progression between these extremes. The development also represents the progression of cells from translationally active forms adapted for proliferation in the host to translationally quiescent forms, adapted for transmission. We have used metabolic labelling to quantitate translational activity in slender forms, stumpy forms and in forms undergoing early differentiation to procyclic forms in vitro. Thereafter we have examined the cohort of total mRNAs that are enriched throughout development in the mammalian bloodstream (slender, intermediate and stumpy forms), irrespective of strain, revealing those that exhibit consistent developmental regulation rather than sample specific changes. Transcripts that cosediment with polysomes in stumpy forms and slender forms have also been enriched to identify transcripts that escape translational repression prior to transmission. Combined, the expression and polysomal association of transcripts as trypanosomes undergo development in the mammalian bloodstream have been defined, providing a resource for trypanosome researchers. This facilitates the identification of those that undergo developmental regulation in the bloodstream and therefore those likely to have a role in the survival and capacity for transmission of stumpy forms.
Project description:The gene expression of Trypanosoma brucei has been examined extensively in the blood of mammalian hosts and in forms found in the midgut of its arthropod vector, the tsetse fly. However, trypanosomes also undergo development within the mammalian bloodstream as they progress from morphologically ‘slender forms’ to transmissible ‘stumpy forms’ through morphological intermediates. This transition is temporally progressive within the first wave of parasitaemia such that gene expression can be monitored in relatively pure slender and stumpy populations as well as during the progression between these extremes. The development also represents the progression of cells from translationally active forms adapted for proliferation in the host to translationally quiescent forms, adapted for transmission. We have used metabolic labelling to quantitate translational activity in slender forms, stumpy forms and in forms undergoing early differentiation to procyclic forms in vitro. Thereafter we have examined the cohort of total mRNAs that are enriched in throughout development in the mammalian bloodstream (slender, intermediate and stumpy forms), irrespective of strain, revealing those that exhibit consistent developmental regulation rather than sample specific changes. Transcripts that cosediment with polysomes in stumpy forms and slender forms have also been identified to enrich transcripts that escape translational repression prior to transmission. Combined, the expression and polysomal association of transcripts as trypanosomes undergo development in the mammalian bloodstream haves been defined, providing a resource for trypanosome researchers. This facilitates the identification of those that undergo developmental regulation in the bloodstream and therefore those likely to have a role in the survival and capacity for transmission of stumpy forms. Examination of gene expression during life cycle stages.
Project description:The protozoan pathogen Trypanosoma brucei is transmitted between mammals by tsetse flies. The first compartment colonised by trypanosomes after a blood meal is the fly midgut lumen. Trypanosomes present in the lumen-designated as early procyclic forms-express the stage-specific surface glycoproteins EP and GPEET procyclin. When the trypanosomes establish a mature infection and colonise the ectoperitrophic space, GPEET is down-regulated, and EP becomes the major surface protein of late procyclic forms. A few years ago, it was discovered that procyclic form trypanosomes exhibit social motility (SoMo) when inoculated on a semi-solid surface. We demonstrate that SoMo is a feature of early procyclic forms, and that late procyclic forms are invariably SoMo-negative. In addition, we show that, apart from GPEET, other markers are differentially expressed in these two life-cycle stages, both in culture and in tsetse flies, indicating that they have different biological properties and should be considered distinct stages of the life cycle. Differentially expressed genes include two closely related adenylate cyclases, both hexokinases and calflagins. These findings link the phenomenon of SoMo in vitro to the parasite forms found during the first 4-7 days of a midgut infection. We postulate that ordered group movement on plates reflects the migration of parasites from the midgut lumen into the ectoperitrophic space within the tsetse fly. Moreover, the process can be uncoupled from colonisation of the salivary glands. Although they are the major surface proteins of procyclic forms, EP and GPEET are not essential for SoMo, nor, as shown previously, are they required for near normal colonisation of the fly midgut.
Project description:mRNA expression profiles of trypanosomes from two discrete bloodstream form stages of the parasite (slender and stumpy forms), as well as during the transition of the stumpy population to the procyclic life-cycle stage were studied. Our analysis represents the first comparison of in vivo derived pleomorphic slender cells with genetically identical stumpy forms, and a first analysis of the dynamic changes in mRNA profile that accompany the transition to procyclic forms. Overall design: Twenty nine RNA samples were generated (5 biological replicates of Stumpy (0h), 1h, 6h, 18h and 48h, and 4 biological replicates of slender forms. Four arrays failed QC.
Project description:African trypanosomes undergo differentiation in order to adapt to the mammalian host and the tsetse fly vector. To characterize the role of a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase homologue, TbMAPK5, in the differentiation of Trypanosoma brucei, we constructed a knockout in procyclic (insect) forms from a differentiation-competent (pleomorphic) stock. Two independent knockout clones proliferated normally in culture and were not essential for other life cycle stages in the fly. They were also able to infect immunosuppressed mice, but the peak parasitemia was 16-fold lower than that of the wild type. Differentiation of the proliferating long slender to the nonproliferating short stumpy bloodstream form is triggered by an autocrine factor, stumpy induction factor (SIF). The knockout differentiated prematurely in mice and in culture, suggestive of increased sensitivity to SIF. In contrast, a null mutant of a cell line refractory to SIF was able to proliferate normally. The differentiation phenotype was partially rescued by complementation with wild-type TbMAPK5 but exacerbated by introduction of a nonactivatable mutant form. Our results indicate a regulatory function for TbMAPK5 in the differentiation of bloodstream forms of T. brucei that might be exploitable as a target for chemotherapy against human sleeping sickness.
Project description:The sleeping sickness parasite Trypanosoma brucei has a complex life cycle, alternating between a mammalian host and the tsetse fly vector. A tightly controlled developmental programme ensures parasite transmission between hosts as well as survival within them and involves strict regulation of mitochondrial activities. In the glucose-rich bloodstream, the replicative 'slender' stage is thought to produce ATP exclusively via glycolysis and uses the mitochondrial F1FO-ATP synthase as an ATP hydrolysis-driven proton pump to generate the mitochondrial membrane potential (??m). The 'procyclic' stage in the glucose-poor tsetse midgut depends on mitochondrial catabolism of amino acids for energy production, which involves oxidative phosphorylation with ATP production via the F1FO-ATP synthase. Both modes of the F1FO enzyme critically depend on FO subunit a, which is encoded in the parasite's mitochondrial DNA (kinetoplast or kDNA). Comparatively little is known about mitochondrial function and the role of kDNA in non-replicative 'stumpy' bloodstream forms, a developmental stage essential for disease transmission. Here we show that the L262P mutation in the nuclear-encoded F1 subunit ? that permits survival of 'slender' bloodstream forms lacking kDNA ('akinetoplastic' forms), via FO-independent generation of ??m, also permits their differentiation into stumpy forms. However, these akinetoplastic stumpy cells lack a ??m and have a reduced lifespan in vitro and in mice, which significantly alters the within-host dynamics of the parasite. We further show that generation of ??m in stumpy parasites and their ability to use ?-ketoglutarate to sustain viability depend on F1-ATPase activity. Surprisingly, however, loss of ??m does not reduce stumpy life span. We conclude that the L262P ? subunit mutation does not enable FO-independent generation of ??m in stumpy cells, most likely as a consequence of mitochondrial ATP production in these cells. In addition, kDNA-encoded genes other than FO subunit a are important for stumpy form viability.
Project description:Trypanosomes undergo extensive developmental changes during their complex life cycle. Crucial among these is the transition between slender and stumpy bloodstream forms and, thereafter, the differentiation from stumpy to tsetse-midgut procyclic forms. These developmental events are highly regulated, temporally reproducible and accompanied by expression changes mediated almost exclusively at the post-transcriptional level.In this study we have examined, by whole-genome microarray analysis, the mRNA abundance of genes in slender and stumpy forms of T.brucei AnTat1.1 cells, and also during their synchronous differentiation to procyclic forms. In total, five biological replicates representing the differentiation of matched parasite populations derived from five individual mouse infections were assayed, with RNAs being derived at key biological time points during the time course of their synchronous differentiation to procyclic forms. Importantly, the biological context of these mRNA profiles was established by assaying the coincident cellular events in each population (surface antigen exchange, morphological restructuring, cell cycle re-entry), thereby linking the observed gene expression changes to the well-established framework of trypanosome differentiation.Using stringent statistical analysis and validation of the derived profiles against experimentally-predicted gene expression and phenotypic changes, we have established the profile of regulated gene expression during these important life-cycle transitions. The highly synchronous nature of differentiation between stumpy and procyclic forms also means that these studies of mRNA profiles are directly relevant to the changes in mRNA abundance within individual cells during this well-characterised developmental transition.