Project description:Toxoplasma gondii has a largely clonal population in North America and Europe, with types I, II and III clonal lineages accounting for the majority of strains isolated from patients. RH, a particular type I strain, is most frequently used to characterize Toxoplasma biology. However, compared to other type I strains, RH has unique characteristics such as faster growth, increased extracellular survival rate and inability to form orally infectious cysts. Thus, to identify candidate genes that could account for these parasite phenotypic differences, we determined genetic differences and differential parasite gene expression between RH and another type I strain, GT1. Moreover, as differences in host cell modulation could affect Toxoplasma replication in the host, we determined differentially modulated host processes among the type I strains through host transcriptional profiling.Through whole genome sequencing, we identified 1,394 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and insertions/deletions (indels) between RH and GT1. These SNPs/indels together with parasite gene expression differences between RH and GT1 were used to identify candidate genes that could account for type I phenotypic differences. A polymorphism in dense granule protein, GRA2, determined RH and GT1 differences in the evasion of the interferon gamma response. In addition, host transcriptional profiling identified that genes regulated by NF-?B, such as interleukin (IL)-12p40, were differentially modulated by the different type I strains. We subsequently showed that this difference in NF-?B activation was due to polymorphisms in GRA15. Furthermore, we observed that RH, but not other type I strains, recruited phosphorylated I?B? (a component of the NF-?B complex) to the parasitophorous vacuole membrane and this recruitment of p- I?B? was partially dependent on GRA2.We identified candidate parasite genes that could be responsible for phenotypic variation among the type I strains through comparative genomics and transcriptomics. We also identified differentially modulated host pathways among the type I strains, and these can serve as a guideline for future studies in examining the phenotypic differences among type I strains.
Project description:Toxoplasmosis is a widespread parasitic infection by Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite with at least three distinct clonal lineages. This article reports the whole genome sequencing and de novo assembly of T. gondii RH (type I representative strain), as well as genome-wide comparison across major T. gondii lineages. Genomic DNA was extracted from tachyzoites of T. gondii RH strain and its identity was verified by PCR and LAMP. Subsequently, whole genome sequencing was performed, followed by sequence filtering, genome assembly, gene annotation assignments, clustering of gene orthologs and phylogenetic tree construction. Genome comparison was done with the already archived genomes of T. gondii. From this study, the genome size of T. gondii RH strain was found to be 69.35Mb, with a mean GC content of 52%. The genome shares high similarity to the archived genomes of T. gondii GT1, ME49 and VEG strains. Nevertheless, 111 genes were found to be unique to T. gondii RH strain. Importantly, unique genes annotated to functions that are potentially critical for T. gondii virulence were found, which may explain the unique phenotypes of this particular strain. This report complements the genomic archive of T. gondii. Data obtained from this study contribute to better understanding of T. gondii and serve as a reference for future studies on this parasite.
Project description:Parasite gene expression differences have been reported previously between RH-ERP, RH-JSR and GT1. To independently confirm these gene expression differences, we examined the parasite gene expression profiles of RH-ERP, RH-JSR and GT1 through microarray. Three type I strains of Toxoplasma gondii were compared with one array each, and these were used to verify data from previous studies.
Project description:Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite that infects a wide range of warm-blooded species. Rats vary in their susceptibility to this parasite. The Toxo1 locus conferring Toxoplasma resistance in rats was previously mapped to a region of chromosome 10 containing Nlrp1. This gene encodes an inflammasome sensor controlling macrophage sensitivity to anthrax lethal toxin (LT) induced rapid cell death (pyroptosis). We show here that rat strain differences in Toxoplasma infected macrophage sensitivity to pyroptosis, IL-1?/IL-18 processing, and inhibition of parasite proliferation are perfectly correlated with NLRP1 sequence, while inversely correlated with sensitivity to anthrax LT-induced cell death. Using recombinant inbred rats, SNP analyses and whole transcriptome gene expression studies, we narrowed the candidate genes for control of Toxoplasma-mediated rat macrophage pyroptosis to four genes, one of which was Nlrp1. Knockdown of Nlrp1 in pyroptosis-sensitive macrophages resulted in higher parasite replication and protection from cell death. Reciprocally, overexpression of the NLRP1 variant from Toxoplasma-sensitive macrophages in pyroptosis-resistant cells led to sensitization of these resistant macrophages. Our findings reveal Toxoplasma as a novel activator of the NLRP1 inflammasome in rat macrophages.
Project description:Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoa parasite that causes the disease toxoplasmosis. It resides within host cells in a parasitophorous vacuole distinct from the host cell endocytic system. T. gondii was used as a model to investigate how obligate intracellular parasites alter their gene expression in response to the host immune response during infection compared to growth in host cells in vitro. While bacterial pathogens clearly alter gene expression to adapt to the host environment during infection, the degree to which the external environment affects gene expression by obligate intracellular pathogens sequestered within host cells is less clear. The global transcriptome of T. gondii was analyzed in vivo in the presence and absence of the IFN-?-dependent host innate immune response. The parasites' in vivo transcriptome was also compared to its transcriptome in vitro in fibroblast cells. Our results indicate that the parasite transcriptome is significantly altered during in vivo infection in the presence, but not absence, of IFN-?-dependent immunity compared with fibroblasts infected in vitro. Many of the parasite genes increased in vivo appear to be common to an early general stress response by the parasite; surprisingly putative oocyst stage specific genes were also disproportionately increased during infection.
Project description:Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite that invades a wide range of vertebrate host cells. Chronic infections with T. gondii become established in the tissues of the central nervous system, where the parasites may directly or indirectly modulate neuronal function. However, the mechanisms underlying parasite-induced neuronal disorder in the brain remain unclear. This study evaluated host gene expression in mouse brain following infection with T. gondii. BALB/c mice were infected with the PLK strain, and after 32 days of infection, histopathological lesions in the frontal lobe were found to be more severe than in other areas of the brain. Total RNA extracted from infected and uninfected mouse brain samples was subjected to transcriptome analysis using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). In the T. gondii-infected mice, 935 mouse brain genes were upregulated, whereas 12 genes were downregulated. GOstat analysis predicted that the upregulated genes were primarily involved in host immune responses and cell activation. Positive correlations were found between the numbers of parasites in the infected mouse brains and the expression levels of genes involved in host immune responses. In contrast, genes that had a negative correlation with parasite numbers were predicted to be involved in neurological functions, such as small-GTPase-mediated signal transduction and vesicle-mediated transport. Furthermore, differential gene expression was observed between mice exhibiting the clinical signs of toxoplasmosis and those that did not. Our findings may provide insights into the mechanisms underlying neurological changes during T. gondii infection.
Project description:Mechanisms of gene regulation are poorly understood in Apicomplexa, a phylum that encompasses deadly human pathogens like Plasmodium and Toxoplasma. Initial studies suggest that epigenetic phenomena, including histone modifications and chromatin remodeling, have a profound effect upon gene expression and expression of virulence traits. Using the model organism Toxoplasma gondii, we characterized the epigenetic organization and transcription patterns of a contiguous 1% of the T. gondii genome using custom oligonucleotide microarrays. We show that methylation and acetylation of histones H3 and H4 are landmarks of active promoters in T. gondii that allow us to deduce the position and directionality of gene promoters with >95% accuracy. These histone methylation and acetylation "activation" marks are strongly associated with gene expression. We also demonstrate that the pattern of histone H3 arginine methylation distinguishes certain promoters, illustrating the complexity of the histone modification machinery in Toxoplasma. By integrating epigenetic data, gene prediction analysis, and gene expression data from the tachyzoite stage, we illustrate feasibility of creating an epigenomic map of T. gondii tachyzoite gene expression. Further, we illustrate the utility of the epigenomic map to empirically and biologically annotate the genome and show that this approach enables identification of previously unknown genes. Thus, our epigenomics approach provides novel insights into regulation of gene expression in the Apicomplexa. In addition, with its compact genome, genetic tractability, and discrete life cycle stages, T. gondii provides an important new model to study the evolutionarily conserved components of the histone code.
Project description:Toxoplasma gondii has become a model for studying the phylum Apicomplexa, in part due to the availability of excellent genetic tools. Although reverse genetic tools are available in a few widely utilized laboratory strains, they rely on special genetic backgrounds that are not easily implemented in natural isolates. Recent progress in modifying CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), a system of DNA recognition used as a defense mechanism in bacteria and archaea, has led to extremely efficient gene disruption in a variety of organisms. Here we utilized a CRISPR/CAS9-based system with single guide RNAs to disrupt genes in T. gondii. CRISPR/CAS9 provided an extremely efficient system for targeted gene disruption and for site-specific insertion of selectable markers through homologous recombination. CRISPR/CAS9 also facilitated site-specific insertion in the absence of homology, thus increasing the utility of this approach over existing technology. We then tested whether CRISPR/CAS9 would enable efficient transformation of a natural isolate. Using CRISPR/CAS9, we were able to rapidly generate both rop18 knockouts and complemented lines in the type I GT1 strain, which has been used for forward genetic crosses but which remains refractory to reverse genetic approaches. Assessment of their phenotypes in vivo revealed that ROP18 contributed a greater proportion to acute pathogenesis in GT1 than in the laboratory type I RH strain. Thus, CRISPR/CAS9 extends reverse genetic techniques to diverse isolates of T. gondii, allowing exploration of a much wider spectrum of biological diversity.Genetic approaches have proven very powerful for studying the biology of organisms, including microbes. However, ease of genetic manipulation varies widely among isolates, with common lab isolates often being the most amenable to such approaches. Unfortunately, such common lab isolates have also been passaged frequently in vitro and have thus lost many of the attributes of wild isolates, often affecting important traits, like virulence. On the other hand, wild isolates are often not amenable to standard genetic approaches, thus limiting inquiry about the genetic basis of biological diversity. Here we imported a new genetic system based on CRISPR/CAS9, which allows high efficiency of targeted gene disruption in natural isolates of T. gondii. This advance promises to bring the power of genetics to bear on the broad diversity of T. gondii strains that have been described recently.
Project description:We characterized the porcine tissue transcriptional landscapes that follow Toxoplasma gondii infection. RNAs were isolated from liver, spleen, cerebral cortex, lung, and mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs) of T. gondii-infected and uninfected (control) pigs at days 6 and 18 postinfection, and were analyzed using next-generation sequencing (RNA-seq). T. gondii altered the expression of 178, 476, 199, 201, and 362 transcripts at 6 dpi and 217, 223, 347, 119, and 161 at 18 dpi in the infected brain, liver, lung, MLNs and spleen, respectively. The differentially expressed transcripts (DETs) were grouped into five expression patterns and 10 sub-clusters. Gene Ontology enrichment and pathway analysis revealed that immune-related genes dominated the overall transcriptomic signature and that metabolic processes, such as steroid biosynthesis, and metabolism of lipid and carboxylic acid, were downregulated in infected tissues. Co-expression network analysis identified transcriptional modules associated with host immune response to infection. These findings not only show how T. gondii infection alters porcine transcriptome in a tissue-specific manner, but also offer a gateway for testing new hypotheses regarding human response to T. gondii infection.
Project description:Toxoplasma gondii is classified into 16 haplogroups based on a worldwide genotyping study of the parasite. However, only a few isolates from Japan were included in this analysis. To conduct more precise genotyping of T. gondii, we examined the genotypes of Japanese isolates in this study. DNA sequences of 6 loci were determined in 17 Japanese isolates and compared with those of strains of 16 haplogroups. As a result, Japanese isolates were classified into four groups. We investigated the virulence of some Japanese isolates and found a highly virulent strain in mice, comparable to that of RH strain, although this Japanese isolate was sister to strains of haplogroup 2, which show moderate virulence in mice. We further investigated whether this high virulence isolate had different virulence mechanism and strategy to adapt to Japanese host from other strains by comparing the virulence-related genes, ROP5, 18 and the immunomodulatory gene, ROP16 of the isolate with those of archetypical strains (GT1, ME49 and VEG). This analysis indicated the high virulence of the isolate in mice was partly explained by gene sequences of ROP5 and ROP16. These findings lead to the elucidation of biodiversity of T. gondii and have potential to optimize the diagnostic protocol.