Project description:Kinetoplastids are a group of parasites that includes several medically-important species. These human-infective species are transmitted by insect vectors in which the parasites undergo specific developmental transformations. For each species, this includes a stage in which parasites adhere to insect tissue via a hemidesmosome-like structure. Although this structure has been described morphologically, it has never been molecularly characterized. We are using Crithidia fasciculata, an insect parasite that produces large numbers of adherent parasites inside its mosquito host, as a model kinetoplastid to investigate both the mechanism of adherence and the signals required for differentiation to an adherent form. An advantage of C. fasciculata is that adherent parasites can be generated both in vitro, allowing a direct comparison to cultured swimming forms, as well as in vivo within the mosquito. Using RNAseq, we identify genes associated with adherence in C. fasciculata. As almost all of these genes have orthologs in other kinetoplastid species, our findings may reveal shared mechanisms of adherence, allowing investigation of a crucial step in parasite development and disease transmission. In addition, dual-RNAseq allowed us to explore the interaction between the parasites and the mosquito. Although the infection is well-tolerated, anti-microbial peptides and other components of the mosquito innate immune system are upregulated. Our findings indicate that C. fasciculata is a powerful model system for probing kinetoplastid-insect interactions.
Project description:Kinetoplastids are a group of parasite species, several of which cause important diseases in human and livestock. Nearly all of these pathogenic species are transmitted by insect vectors, in which the parasites undergo a specific developmental program. One shared event undergone by multiple species is adherence to insect tissue. This adhesion occurs by means of a hemidesmosome-like structure that is thus far uncharacterized. We have used the monoxenous parasite Crithidia fasciculata, which exclusively infects mosquitoes, to study this process of parasite adhesion in the insect. We have transcriptionally profiled adherent and swimming forms of the parasite that have been generated in vitro, and compared these profiles to the adhesive form in the mosquito. Using a dual-RNAseq approach, we have also identified several genes that are differentially regulated in infected versus uninfected mosquitoes, including several immune genes. This indicates that the mosquito is responding to the presence of the parasites. Overall design: We isolated RNA from three flasks containing exclusively swimming C. fasciculata, and from three flasks containing exclusively adherent C. fasciculata. One of the replicates of adherent cells was excluded for technical reasons. We also infected three separate generations of mosquitoes with C. fasciculata, isolated RNA, and compared them RNA from age-matched uninfected controls.
Project description:Mitochondria are central organelles in cellular metabolism. Their structure is highly dynamic, allowing them to adapt to different energy requirements, to be partitioned during cell division, and to maintain functionality. Mitochondrial dynamics, including membrane fusion and fission reactions, are well studied in yeast and mammals but it is not known if these processes are conserved throughout eukaryotic evolution. Kinetoplastid parasites are some of the earliest-diverging eukaryotes to retain a mitochondrion. Each cell has only a single mitochondrial organelle, making them an interesting model for the role of dynamics in controlling mitochondrial architecture. We have investigated the mitochondrial division cycle in the kinetoplastid Crithidia fasciculata. The majority of mitochondrial biogenesis occurs during the G1 phase of the cell cycle, and the mitochondrion is divided symmetrically in a process coincident with cytokinesis. Live cell imaging revealed that the mitochondrion is highly dynamic, with frequent changes in the topology of the branched network. These remodeling reactions include tubule fission, fusion, and sliding, as well as new tubule formation. We hypothesize that the function of this dynamic remodeling is to homogenize mitochondrial contents and to facilitate rapid transport of mitochondria-encoded gene products from the area containing the mitochondrial nucleoid to other parts of the organelle.
Project description:We have identified the promoter region of the large ribosomal DNA repeat unit of Crithidia fasciculata by northern blotting and nuclear run-on analyses. These data show that transcription starts approximately 1 kb upstream of the 18S rRNA gene. S1 protection experiments and sequence analysis of this area resulted in a precise localization of the start site. We have been unable to identify conserved sequence element(s) by a direct comparison of the crithidial RNA polymerase I promoter region and similar promoter regions of other eukaryotes; not even to the promoter region of the more closely related kinetoplastid species, Trypanosoma brucei. The absence of homology within the primary sequence of the promoter region, which is also found in other eukaryotes, might explain the observed species specificity of in vivo and in vitro rDNA transcription, since this resides in the interaction of initiation factor(s) and the core promoter domain.
Project description:The monosaccharide D-arabinopyranose has only been found in glycoconjugates of the trypanasomatid parasites Leishmania major, Endotrypanum schaudinni and Crithidia fasciculata. The donor molecule for the relevant arabinosyltransferases is known to be GDP-alpha-D-Arap in L. major and C. fasciculata, and the latter organism is being used to study the biosynthesis of GDP-alpha-D-Arap. In this study, we describe the structure of the terminal product of arabinose metabolism in C. fasciculata, namely lipoarabinogalactan. This molecule was purified by hydrophobic-interaction chromatography and studied by a variety of techniques, including gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, electrospray mass spectrometry and chemical and enzymic digestions. These data show that lipoarabinogalactan contains a previously described D-arabino-D-galactan polysaccharide component covalently attached to a glycosylphosphatidylinositol type of membrane anchor that is similar to, but not identical with, that found in the lipophosphoglycans of the Leishmania.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Chamaecrista fasciculata is a widespread annual legume across Eastern North America, with potential as a restoration planting, biofuel crop, and genetic model for non-papillinoid legumes. As a non-Papilinoid, C. fasciculata, belongs to the Caesalpiniod group in which nodulation likely arose independently of the nodulation in Papilinoid and Mimosoid legumes. Thus, C. fasciculata is an attractive model system for legume evolution. In this study, we describe population structure and genetic diversity among 32 USDA germplasm accessions of C. fasciculata using 317 AFLP markers developed from 12 primer pairs, to assess where geographically there is the most genetic variation. RESULTS:We found that the C. fasciculata germplasm collection fall into four clusters with admixture among them. After correcting for outliers, our analysis shows two primary groups across Eastern and Central North America. To better understand the population biology of this species, further sampling of the full range of this widespread species is needed across North America, as well as the development of a larger set of markers providing denser coverage of the genome. Further sampling will help clarify geographical relationships in this widespread temperate species.
Project description:Plant populations may vary substantially in their tolerance for and accumulation of heavy metals, and assessment of this variability is important when selecting species to use in restoration or phytoremediation projects. We examined the population variation in cadmium tolerance and accumulation in a leguminous pioneer species native to the eastern United States, the partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata). We assayed growth, reproduction and patterns of cadmium accumulation in six populations of C. fasciculata grown on a range of cadmium-contaminated soils. In general, C. fasciculata exhibited tolerance in low to moderate soil cadmium concentrations. Both tolerance and accumulation patterns varied across populations. C. fasciculata exhibited many characteristics of a hyperaccumulator species, with high cadmium uptake in shoots and roots. However, cadmium was excluded from extrafloral nectar. As a legume with tolerance for moderate cadmium contamination, C. fasciculata has potential for phytoremediation. However, our findings also indicate the importance of considering the effects of genetic variation on plant performance when screening plant populations for utilization in remediation and restoration activities. Also, there is potential for cadmium contamination to affect other species through contamination of leaves, fruits, flowers, pollen and root nodules.
Project description:The mitochondrial DNA in kinetoplastid protozoa is contained in a single highly condensed structure consisting of thousands of minicircles and approximately 25 maxicircles. The disk-shaped structure is termed kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) and is located in the mitochondrial matrix near the basal body. We have previously identified a mitochondrial DNA ligase (LIG kbeta) in the trypanosomatid Crithidia fasciculata that localizes to antipodal sites flanking the kDNA disk where several other replication proteins are localized. We describe here a second mitochondrial DNA ligase (LIG kalpha). LIG kalpha localizes to the kinetoplast primarily in cells that have completed mitosis and contain either a dividing kinetoplast or two newly divided kinetoplasts. Essentially all dividing or newly divided kinetoplasts show localization of LIG kalpha. The ligase is present on both faces of the kDNA disk and at a high level in the kinetoflagellar zone of the mitochondrial matrix. Cells containing a single nucleus show localization of the LIG kalpha to the kDNA but at a much lower frequency. The mRNA level of LIG kalpha varies during the cell cycle out of phase with that of LIG kbeta. LIG kalpha transcript levels are maximal during the phase when cells contain two nuclei, whereas LIG kbeta transcript levels are maximal during S phase. The LIG kalpha protein decays with a half-life of 100 min in the absence of protein synthesis. The periodic expression of the LIG kalpha transcript and the instability of the LIG kalpha protein suggest a possible role of the ligase in regulating minicircle replication.
Project description:Recent episodes of mass mortalities in the Mediterranean Sea have been reported for the closely related marine sponges Ircinia fasciculata and Ircinia variabilis that live in sympatry. In this context, the assessment of the genetic diversity, bottlenecks and connectivity of these sponges has become urgent in order to evaluate the potential effects of mass mortalities on their latitudinal range. Our study aims to establish (1) the genetic structure, connectivity and signs of bottlenecks across the populations of I. fasciculata and (2) the hybridization levels between I. fasciculata and I. variabilis. To accomplish the first objective, 194 individuals of I. fasciculata from 12 locations across the Mediterranean were genotyped at 14 microsatellite loci. For the second objective, mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I sequences of 16 individuals from both species were analyzed along with genotypes at 12 microsatellite loci of 40 individuals coexisting in 3 Mediterranean populations. We detected strong genetic structure along the Mediterranean for I. fasciculata, with high levels of inbreeding in all locations and bottleneck signs in most locations. Oceanographic barriers like the Almeria-Oran front, North-Balearic front and the Ligurian-Thyrrenian barrier seem to be impeding gene flow for I. fasciculata, adding population divergence to the pattern of isolation by distance derived from the low dispersal abilities of sponge larvae. Hybridization between both species occurred in some populations that might be increasing genetic diversity and somewhat palliating the genetic loss caused by population decimation in I. fasciculata.
Project description:Kinetoplast DNA (kDNA), the form of mitochondrial DNA in trypanosomatids, consists of thousands of interlocked circular DNAs organized into a compact disk structure. A type II DNA topoisomerase, a DNA polymerase beta, and a structure-specific endonuclease have been localized to antipodal sites flanking the kDNA disk along with nascent DNA minicircles. We have cloned a gene (LIG k) encoding a mitochondrial DNA ligase in the trypanosomatid Crithidia fasciculata, and we show that an epitope-tagged form of the ligase colocalizes with the other replication proteins at the antipodal sites and also at the two faces of the kDNA disk. DNA LIG k becomes adenylated in reactions with ATP, and the adenylate moiety is removed by incubation with pyrophosphate or nicked DNA. The ligase interacts physically with the beta polymerase and is proposed to be involved in the repair of gaps in the newly synthesized minicircles. In yeast and mammals, a single gene encodes both nuclear and mitochondrial forms of DNA ligase. The LIG K protein sequence has low similarity to mitochondrial DNA ligases in other eukaryotes and is distinct from the C. fasciculata nuclear DNA ligase (LIG I).