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International journal for parasitology [journal]
- The Cre/loxP system in Giardia lamblia: genetic manipulations in a binucleate tetraploid protozoan. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2014 Apr 16.
The bacteriophage-derived Cre/loxP system is a valuable tool that has revolutionized genetic and cell biological research in many organisms. We implemented this system in the intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia, an evolutionarily diverged protozoan whose binucleate and tetraploid genome organization severely limits the application of reverse genetic approaches. We show that Cre-recombinase is functionally expressed in G. lamblia and demonstrate "recycling" of selectable markers. Providing the means for more complex and versatile genetic modifications, this technique massively increases the scope of functional investigations in G. lamblia and other protozoa with similar limitations with respect to genetic manipulation.
- Spatial heterogeneity and temporal variations in Echinococcus multilocularis infections in wild hosts in a North American urban setting. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2014 Apr 18.
Echinococcus multilocularis, the causative agent of human alveolar echinococcosis, has the potential to circulate in urban areas where wild host populations and humans coexist. The spatial and temporal distribution of infection in wild hosts locally affects the risk of transmission to humans. We investigated the spatial and temporal patterns of E. multilocularis infection in coyotes and rodent intermediate hosts within the city of Calgary, Canada, and the association between spatial variations in coyote infection and the relative composition of small mammal assemblages. Infection by E. multilocularis was examined in small mammals and coyote feces collected monthly in five city parks from June 2012 to June 2013. Coyote feces were analysed using a ZnCl2 centrifugation and sedimentation protocol. Infection in intermediate hosts was assessed through lethal trapping and post-mortem analysis. Parasite eggs and metacestodes were morphologically identified and molecularly confirmed through species-specific PCR assays. Of 982 small mammals captured, infection was detected in 2/305 (0.66%) deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), 2/267 (0.75%) meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus), and 1/71 (1.41%) southern red backed voles (Myodes gapperi). Overall fecal prevalence in coyotes was 21.42% (n=385) and varied across sites, ranging from 5.34% to 61.48%. Differences in coyote fecal prevalence across sites were consistent with local variations in the relative abundance of intermediate hosts within the small mammal assemblages. Infections peaked in intermediate hosts during autumn (0.68%) and winter (3.33%), and in coyotes during spring (43.47%). Peaks of infections in coyote feces up to 83.8% in autumn were detected in a hyper-endemic area. To the best of our knowledge, our findings represent the first evidence of a sylvatic life-cycle of E. multilocularis in a North American urban setting, and provide new insights into the complexity of the parasite transmission ecology.
- Anthelmintic efficacy on UK Thoroughbred stud farms. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2014 Apr 15.
Anthelmintic drugs have been applied indiscriminately to control horse nematodes for over 40 years. We undertook a comprehensive study to investigate efficacy of the four available broad-spectrum anthelmintic drugs on 16 Thoroughbred stud farms using the faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT). Efficacy against strongyles was determined by calculating the percentage of reduction in faecal egg count (FEC) between the group mean at Day 0 and Days 14 - 17 post-treatment and the 95% lower confidence intervals (LCL) estimated by non-parametric bootstrapping. Individual strongyle FECRTs (n = 429) were performed in which 179, 131, 89 and 30 horses were administered ivermectin (IVM), moxidectin (MOX), pyrantel (PYR) and fenbendazole (FBZ), respectively. MOX was efficacious in all tests (FECR range: 99.8 - 100%; 95% LCL range: 96.8 - 100%) and reduced efficacy of IVM (FECR range: 85.7 - 100%; 95% LCL range: 65 - 100%) was observed in one group of yearlings. Reduced PYR efficacy was observed in five groups of yearlings (FECR range: 0 - 73%; 95% LCL range: 0 - 59.5%), but PYR was found to be efficacious when administered to mares (FECR range: 98 - 99.4%; 95% LCL range: 91.8 - 99.3%). Low efficacy of FBZ was always observed (FECR range: 0.4 - 41%; 95% LCL not calculable). Two further methods for estimating efficacy were applied and outputs obtained using all methodologies were in agreement. Efficacy against Parascaris equorum was assessed on four farms: FBZ had acceptable efficacy (FECR range: 97.5 - 99.9%; 95% LCL range: 96.3 - 99.1%), but reduced efficacy of IVM was observed (FECR range: 25.5 - 91.2%; 95% LCL range: 6.7 - 82.4%). Strongyle FEC were analysed at approximately 2 week intervals for up to 12 weeks after anthelmintic drug administration to determine the egg reappearance period (ERP) for MOX, IVM and PYR. The ERP for all three anthelmintic drugs was shorter than previously observed. Overall, our results indicate that IVM and MOX administration provided acceptable efficacy at 14 days; however, ERP results suggest that these products are working less effectively than measured previously. As shortened ERP is believed to be an early indicator of resistance, this highlights the issue of impending multi-drug resistance in strongyles on stud farms.
- Hc-daf-2 encodes an insulin-like receptor kinase in the barber's pole worm, Haemonchus contortus, and restores partial dauer regulation. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2014 Apr 12.
Infective L3s (iL3s) of parasitic nematodes share common behavioural, morphological and developmental characteristics with the developmentally arrested (dauer) larvae of the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. It is proposed that similar molecular mechanisms regulate entry into or exit from the dauer stage in C. elegans, and the transition from free-living to parasitic forms of parasitic nematodes. In C. elegans, one of the key factors regulating the dauer transition is the insulin-like receptor (designated Ce-DAF-2) encoded by the gene Ce-daf-2. However, nothing is known about DAF-2 homologues in most parasitic nematodes. Here, using a PCR-based approach, we identified and characterised a gene (Hc-daf-2) and its inferred product (Hc-DAF-2) in Haemonchus contortus (a socioeconomically important parasitic nematode of ruminants). The sequence of Hc-DAF-2 displays significant sequence homology to insulin receptors in both vertebrates and invertebrates, and contains conserved structural domains. A sequence encoding an important proteolytic motif (RKRR) identified in the predicted peptide sequence of Hc-DAF-2 is consistent with that of the human IR, suggesting that it is involved in the formation of the IR complex. The Hc-daf-2 gene was transcribed in all life stages of H. contortus, with a significant up-regulation in the iL3 compared with other stages. To compare patterns of expression between Hc-daf-2 and Ce-daf-2, reporter constructs fusing the Ce-daf-2 or Hc-daf-2 promoter to sequence encoding GFP were microinjected into the N2 strain of C. elegans, and transgenic lines were established and examined. Both genes showed similar patterns of expression in amphidial (head) neurons, which relate to sensation and signal transduction. Further study by heterologous genetic complementation in a daf-2-deficient strain of C. elegans (CB1370) showed partial rescue of function by Hc-daf-2. Taken together, these findings provide a first insight into the roles of Hc-daf-2/Hc-DAF-2 in the biology and development of H. contortus, particularly in the transition to parasitism.
- Natural killer cell intrinsic toll-like receptor MyD88 signaling contributes to IL-12-dependent IFN-γ production by mice during infection with Toxoplasma gondii. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2014 Apr 13.
Myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88)-dependent IL-12 secretion by dendritic cells is critical for natural killer cell-mediated IFN-γ production and innate resistance to Toxoplasma gondii. Although MyD88(-/-) mice challenged with T. gondii have defective IL-12 responses and succumb to infection, administration of IL-12 to MyD88(-/-) mice fails to prevent acute mortality, suggesting that MyD88 may mediate signals within natural killer cells important for IL-12-dependent IFN-γ production and innate resistance to this parasite. In this study, we found that T. gondii antigens and IL-12 could synergistically trigger IFN-γ secretion by natural killer cells, which was dependent on toll-like receptor-MyD88 signaling. Further analysis showed that p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, extracellular signal-regulated kinase, c-Jun N-terminal kinase and NF-κB multiple pathways downstream of MyD88 contributed to IFN-γ production by natural killer cells. Moreover, the well-established toll-like receptor agonists, T. gondii profilin (Tgprofilin) and T. gondii heat shock protein 70 (TgHSP70) could evoke a similar IFN-γ secretory response in natural killer cells to that evoked by T. gondii antigens. In vivo adoptive transfer experiments showed that, upon challenge with T. gondii, NOD/SCID-β2 microglobulin null (NOD/SCID-β2m(-/-)) mice injected i.v. with MyD88(-/-) natural killer cells had reduced serum IFN-γ levels and increased splenic tachyzoite burdens compared with those injected i.v. with wild-type natural killer cells. Taken together, these findings demonstrate a critical role for natural killer cell intrinsic toll-like receptor-MyD88 signaling in IL-12-dependent early IFN-γ production and innate resistance to T. gondii.
- Population genetics of Cryptosporidium meleagridis in humans and birds: evidence for cross-species transmission. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2014 Apr 12.
Population genetic studies have been used to understand the transmission of pathogens in humans and animals, especially the role of zoonotic infections and evolution and dispersal of virulent subtypes. In this study, we analysed the genetic diversity and population structure of Cryptosporidium meleagridis, the only known Cryptosporidium species that infects both avian and mammalian hosts and is responsible for approximately 10% of human cryptosporidiosis in some areas. A total of 62 C. meleagridis specimens from children, AIDS patients, and birds in Lima, Peru were characterised by sequence analysis of the ssrRNA gene and five minisatellite, microsatellite and polymorphic markers in chromosome 6, including the 60kDa glycoprotein (gp60), 47kDa glycoprotein (CP47), a serine repeat antigen (MSC6-5), retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator (RPGR) and thrombospondin protein 8 (TSP8). The multilocus sequence analysis identified concurrent infections with Cryptosporidium hominis in four AIDS patients and three children. Unique subtypes of C. meleagridis ranged from eight at the gp60 locus (gene diversity -Hd=0.651), three at the RPGR (Hd=0.556), three at the MSC6-5 locus (Hd=0.242), two at TSP8 (Hd=0.198), to one at CP47 (monomorphic), much lower than that of C. hominis in the same area. Intragenic linkage disequilibrium was strong and complete at all gene loci. Intergenic linkage disequilibrium was highly significant (P<0.001) for all pairs of polymorphic loci. Two major groups of subtypes were seen, with most subtypes belonging to group 1. Within group 1, there was no clear population segregation, and two of the 14 multilocus subtypes of C. meleagridis were found in both AIDS patients and birds. We believe that these results provide the first evidence of a clonal population structure of C. meleagridis and the likely occurrence of cross-species transmission of C. meleagridis between birds and humans.
- DNA from pre-erythrocytic stage malaria parasites is detectable by PCR in the faeces and blood of hosts. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2014 Apr 3.
Following the bite of an infective mosquito, malaria parasites first invade the liver where they develop and replicate for a number of days before being released into the bloodstream where they invade red blood cells and cause disease. The biology of the liver stages of malaria parasites is relatively poorly understood due to the inaccessibility of the parasites to sampling during this phase of their life cycle. Here we report the detection in blood and faecal samples of malaria parasite DNA throughout their development in the livers of mice and before the parasites begin their growth in the blood circulation. It is shown that parasite DNA derived from pre-erythrocytic stage parasites reaches the faeces via the bile. We then show that different primate malaria species can be detected by PCR in blood and faecal samples from naturally infected captive macaque monkeys. These results demonstrate that pre-erythrocytic parasites can be detected and quantified in experimentally infected animals. Furthermore, these results have important implications for both molecular epidemiology and phylogenetics of malaria parasites. In the former case, individuals who are malaria parasite negative by microscopy, but PCR positive for parasite DNA in their blood, are considered to be "sub-microscopic" blood stage parasite carriers. We now propose that PCR positivity is not necessarily an indicator of the presence of blood stage parasites, as the DNA could derive from pre-erythrocytic parasites. Similarly, in the case of molecular phylogenetics based on DNA sequences alone, we argue that DNA amplified from blood or faeces does not necessarily come from a parasite species that infects the red blood cells of that particular host.
- The reliability of observational approaches for detecting interspecific parasite interactions: comparison with experimental results. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2014 Apr 3.
Interactions among coinfecting parasites have the potential to alter host susceptibility to infection, the progression of disease and the efficacy of disease control measures. It is therefore essential to be able to accurately infer the occurrence and direction of such interactions from parasitological data. Due to logistical constraints, perturbation experiments are rarely undertaken to directly detect interactions, therefore a variety of approaches are commonly used to infer them from patterns of parasite association in observational data. However, the reliability of these various approaches is not known. We assess the ability of a range of standard analytical approaches to detect known interactions between infections of nematodes and intestinal coccidia (Eimeria) in natural small-mammal populations, as revealed by experimental perturbations. We show that correlation-based approaches are highly unreliable, often predicting strong and highly significant associations between nematodes and Eimeria in the opposite direction to the underlying interaction. The most reliable methods involved longitudinal analyses, in which the nematode infection status of individuals at one month is related to the infection status by Eimeria the next month. Even then, however, we suggest these approaches are only viable for certain types of infections and datasets. Overall we suggest that, in the absence of experimental approaches, careful consideration be given to the choice of statistical approach when attempting to infer interspecific interactions from observational data.
- Identification and pharmacological induction of autophagy in the larval stages of Echinococcus granulosus: an active catabolic process in calcareous corpuscles. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2014 Apr 1.
Autophagy is a fundamental catabolic pathway conserved from yeast to mammals, but which remains unknown in parasite cestodes. In this work, the pharmacological induction of autophagy was cellularly and molecularly analysed in the larval stages of Echinococcus granulosus. Metacestode sensitivity to rapamycin and TORC1 expression in protoscoleces and metacestodes were shown. Ultrastructural studies showed that treated parasites had an isolation membrane, autophagosomes and autolysosomes, all of which evidenced the autophagic flux. Genes coding for key autophagy-related proteins were also identified in the Echinococcus genome. These genes were involved in autophagosome formation and transcriptional over-expression of Eg-atg5, Eg-atg6, Eg-atg8, Eg-atg12, Eg-atg16 and Eg-atg18 was shown in presence of rapamycin or arsenic trioxide. Thus, Echinococcus autophagy could be regulated by non-transcriptional inhibition through TOR and by transcription-dependent up-regulation via FoxO-like transcription factors and/or TFEB proteins. An increase in the punctate pattern and Eg-Atg8 polypeptide level in the tegument, parenchyma cells and excretory system of protoscoleces and in vesicularised parasites was detected after rapamycin treatment. This suggests the occurrence of basal autophagy in the larval stages and during vesicular development. In arsenic-treated protoscoleces, high Eg-Atg8 polypeptide levels within the free cytoplasmic matrix of calcareous corpuscles were observed, thus verifying the occurrence of autophagic events. These experiments also confirmed that the calcareous corpuscles are sites of arsenic trioxide accumulation. The detection of the autophagic machinery in this parasite represents a basic starting point to unravel the role of autophagy under both physiological and stress conditions which will allow identification of new strategies for drug discovery against neglected parasitic diseases caused by cestodes.
- Modelling parasite aggregation: disentangling statistical and ecological approaches. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2014 Apr 1.
The overdispersion in macroparasite infection intensity among host populations is commonly simulated using a constant negative binomial aggregation parameter. We describe an alternative to utilising the negative binomial approach and demonstrate important disparities in intervention efficacy projections that can come about from opting for pattern-fitting models that are not process-explicit. We present model output in the context of the epidemiology and control of soil-transmitted helminths due to the significant public health burden imposed by these parasites, but our methods are applicable to other infections with demonstrable aggregation in parasite numbers among hosts.