PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

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ISSN / EISSN : 19352735 / 19352735
Current Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS) (10.1371)
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Muhammad Shafique, Sergio Lopes, Dyna Doum, Vanney Keo, Ly Sokha, Bunleng Sam, Chan Vibol, Neal Alexander, John Bradley, Marco Liverani, et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Volume 13; doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007907

Abstract:In Cambodia dengue vector control activities are focused on larviciding with temephos and pyrethroid based adulticide sprays to which Aedes have been shown to be increasingly resistant. A cluster randomized trial assessed the impact of using biological control tools (guppy fish, pyriproxyfen (PPF), and Communication for Behavioral Impact (COMBI) activities in combination), which would be used in a value comparison to traditional chemical control tools. Given these new intervention methods, a qualitative assessment was designed in order to represent the quality of understanding, acceptance, and implementation by participants. A total of 103 participants in 12 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and nine In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) were included in the study. The majority of participants in intervention villages (50 out of 80) preferred guppy fish over other vector control methods due to ease of use and rearing, quick reproduction and propensity to eat larvae. A substantial number of participants (11 out of 40) in intervention villages with PPF favored it due to long-lasting effectiveness, lack of smell and easy maintenance. Participants showed high demand for both interventions and were willing to pay between 100–500 riel (0.03–0.13 USD). Nearly all participants perceived that the interventions resulted in a reduction in Aedes mosquitos (both adults and immatures) and dengue cases. The presence of larvae in the water despite the use of PPF was a source of concern for some participants, although this was overcome in some cases with proper health education through health volunteers. Interpersonal communication through health volunteers was the most favorite method of transmitting prevention messages. The community led COMBI strategy resulted in high acceptance and perceived effectiveness of the interventions in target villages. Health volunteers are an effective and accepted channel of communication to engage communities, disseminate information and promote behavioral change at the household and community level. If shown effective through corresponding entomological surveys, the interventions should be continued and further strengthened to ensure they are accessible, available and affordable. Dengue is one of the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral diseases in the world and is caused by bites of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Dengue infection is a systemic and dynamic disease with a wide clinical spectrum that includes both severe and non-severe manifestations. In some cases dengue can lead to death. Cambodia has one of the highest per-capita incidence rates. Without a cure or routinely available vaccine, dengue control relies largely on reduction and avoidance mosquitoes. In Cambodia dengue mosquito control activities are focused on larviciding with temephos and pyrethroid based adulticide sprays to which Aedes have been shown to be increasingly resistant. The current qualitative study was designed to better understand the community...
Kavita Yadav, Sunil Dhiman, Bn Acharya, Rama Rao Ghorpade, Devanathan Sukumaran
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Volume 13; doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007842

Abstract:Reduced susceptibility of mosquito vectors to currently used insecticides hampers control interventions. Recently pyriproxyfen, an insect growth regulator has been demonstrated to effectively reduce the reproductive potential in vector mosquitoes. Pyriproxyfen (PPF), in different concentrations (0.75%, 0.075%, 0.0075%, and 0.00075%) was applied on papers and Indian wild type Aedes aegypti female mosquitoes (N ≥ 20 for each treatment) were exposed onto it as per WHO guidelines, to study the reproductive disruption. PPF concentration on treated papers was quantitatively cross-determined using HPLC method. Reduction in fecundity, fertility and adult emergence in exposed female Ae. aegypti was determined. Abnormal development in ovary and eggs of exposed females was studied microscopically after different time intervals. Eggs laid, eggs hatched, pupae formed and adults emerged per female exposed in both before blood meal and after blood meal groups declined significantly from lowest to highest concentration of PPF (F ≥ 5.2; p < 0.02). Adult emergence inhibition in females exposed to PPF before and after blood meal groups ranged from 58.8% [OR = 0.18 (95% CI = 0.09–0.36)] to 79.2% [OR = 0.04 (95% CI = 0.02–0.10)] and 64.4% [OR = 0.12 (95% CI = 0.05–0.28)] to 77.2% [OR = 0.05 (95% CI = 0.02–0.14)] respectively in different concentrations. The probit model used suggested that FI50 (50% fertility inhibition) and EI50 (50% emergence inhibition) were 0.002% (p = 0.8) and 0.0001% (p = 0.99) for females exposed before blood meal, while 0.01% (p = 0.6) and <0.0001% (p = 0.98) for the females exposed after blood meal, respectively. The eggs laid by the females exposed to PPF-treated surface showed altered body organization, desegmentation and disoriented abdominal and cervical regions in the developing embryo. Quantification of PPF on impregnated papers showed that it was uniformly distributed throughout the matrix. The present study has shown that tarsal contact to PPF-treated surface for a small time drastically influenced the fecundity, fertility and adult emergence in Indian wild Ae. aegypti mosquitoes. Results suggest that a certain minimum concentration of PPF through contact exposure can reduce the abundance of vector mosquitoes to a considerable level. The formulations based on combination of PPF and other compatible insecticides may be an impactful approach where susceptible mosquitoes are killed by the insecticide component while resistant mosquitoes are sterilised by PPF. Development of resistance against insecticides has challenged mosquito control programmes globally and prompted the research of alternative options that can complement insecticides. An insect growth regulator, pyriproxyfen (PPF) usage against mosquitoes can effectively reduce the vector population. PPF mainly inhibits the metamorphosis of mosquito larvae into pupae and prevent the adult emergence, therefore it is generally applied in mosquito breeding habitats. PPF...
Ayako Morimoto, Kazuyuki Uchida, James K. Chambers, Kai Sato, Jing Hong, Chizu Sanjoba, Yoshitsugu Matsumoto, Junya Yamagishi, Yasuyuki Goto
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Volume 13; doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007816

Abstract:Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is caused by parasitic protozoa of the genus Leishmania and is characterized by clinical manifestations such as fever, hepatosplenomegaly and anemia. Hemophagocytosis, the phenomenon of phagocytosis of blood cells by macrophages, is found in VL patients. In a previous study we established an experimental model of VL, reproducing anemia in mice for the first time, and identified hemophagocytosis by heavily infected macrophages in the spleen as a possible cause of anemia. However, the mechanism for parasite-induced hemophagocytosis or its role in parasite survival remained unclear. Here, we established an in vitro model of Leishmania-induced hemophagocytosis to explore the molecules involved in this process. In contrast to naïve RAW264.7 cells (mouse macrophage cell line) which did not uptake freshly isolated erythrocytes, RAW264.7 cells infected with L. donovani showed enhanced phagocytosis of erythrocytes. Additionally, for hemophagocytes found both in vitro and in vivo, the expression of signal regulatory protein α (SIRPα), one of the receptors responsible for the ‘don’t-eat-me’ signal was suppressed by post-transcriptional control. Furthermore, the overlapped phagocytosis of erythrocytes and Leishmania parasites within a given macrophage appeared to be beneficial to the parasites; the in vitro experiments showed a higher number of parasites within macrophages that had been induced to engulf erythrocytes. Together, these results suggest that Leishmania parasites may actively induce hemophagocytosis by manipulating the expression of SIRPα in macrophages/hemophagocytes, in order to secure their parasitism. Parasites can manipulate host immune responses to build favorable environment to them. Because this parasite-driven immune modulation is often linked to symptoms in infected individuals, not only parasiticidal compounds but also immunological interventions limiting such the parasites’ abilities will serve as treatment options. In this study, we studied the mechanism and its role of hemophagocytosis (the phenomenon whereby macrophages engulf erythrocytes) caused by Leishmania donovani, a causative agent of VL. In vitro experiments revealed parasites have ability to directly disrupt macrophage’s recognition of self-cells, and that the induced engulfment of erythrocytes by L. donovani infection is beneficial to the parasites for their intracellular survival. These results suggest that Leishmania parasites actively induce hemophagocytosis by manipulating the ‘don’t-eat-me’ signal in macrophages for their survival. Although it is still to be determined how Leishmania parasites change the ‘don’t-eat-me’ signal in macrophages, our study may facilitate development of an immunotherapy which limits the change and lead to improvement of anemia due to hemophagocytosis as well as control of parasite survival.
Jose Santinni Roma, Shaina D’Souza, Patrick J. Somers, Leah F. Cabo, Ruhan Farsin, Serap Aksoy, Laura J. Runyen-Janecky, Brian L. Weiss
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Volume 13; doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007464

Abstract:Tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) house a taxonomically diverse microbiota that includes environmentally acquired bacteria, maternally transmitted symbiotic bacteria, and pathogenic African trypanosomes. Sodalis glossinidius, which is a facultative symbiont that resides intra and extracellularly within multiple tsetse tissues, has been implicated as a mediator of trypanosome infection establishment in the fly’s gut. Tsetse’s gut-associated population of Sodalis are subjected to marked temperature fluctuations each time their ectothermic fly host imbibes vertebrate blood. The molecular mechanisms that Sodalis employs to deal with this heat stress are unknown. In this study, we examined the thermal tolerance and heat shock response of Sodalis. When grown on BHI agar plates, the bacterium exhibited the most prolific growth at 25oC, and did not grow at temperatures above 30oC. Growth on BHI agar plates at 31°C was dependent on either the addition of blood to the agar or reduction in oxygen levels. Sodalis was viable in liquid cultures for 24 hours at 30oC, but began to die upon further exposure. The rate of death increased with increased temperature. Similarly, Sodalis was able to survive for 48 hours within tsetse flies housed at 30oC, while a higher temperature (37oC) was lethal. Sodalis’ genome contains homologues of the heat shock chaperone protein-encoding genes dnaK, dnaJ, and grpE, and their expression was up-regulated in thermally stressed Sodalis, both in vitro and in vivo within tsetse fly midguts. Arrested growth of E. coli dnaK, dnaJ, or grpE mutants under thermal stress was reversed when the cells were transformed with a low copy plasmid that encoded the Sodalis homologues of these genes. The information contained in this study provides insight into how arthropod vector enteric commensals, many of which mediate their host’s ability to transmit pathogens, mitigate heat shock associated with the ingestion of a blood meal. Microorganisms associated with insects must cope with fluctuating temperatures. Because symbiotic bacteria influence the biology of their host, how they respond to temperature changes will have an impact on the host and other microorganisms in the host. The tsetse fly and its symbionts represent an important model system for studying thermal tolerance because the fly feeds exclusively on vertebrate blood and is thus exposed to dramatic temperature shifts. Tsetse flies house a microbial community that can consist of symbiotic and environmentally acquired bacteria, viruses, and parasitic African trypanosomes. This work, which makes use of tsetse’s commensal endosymbiont, Sodalis glossinidius, is significance because it represents the only examination of thermal tolerance mechanisms in a bacterium that resides indigenously within an arthropod disease vector. A better understanding of the biology of thermal tolerance in Sodalis provides insight into thermal stress survival in other insect symbionts and may...
Hideaki Shimizu, Akatsuki Saito, Junko Mikuni, Emi E. Nakayama, Hiroo Koyama, Teruki Honma, Mikako Shirouzu, Shun-Ichi Sekine, Tatsuo Shioda
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Volume 13; doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007894

Abstract:Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection that has spread globally in recent years. Around half of the world’s population, especially in the tropics and subtropics, is at risk of infection. Every year, 50–100 million clinical cases are reported, and more than 500,000 patients develop the symptoms of severe dengue infection: dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, which threaten life in Asia and Latin America. No antiviral drug for dengue is available. The dengue virus (DENV) non-structural protein 5 (NS5), which possesses the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) activity and is responsible for viral replication and transcription, is an attractive target for anti-dengue drug development. In the present study, 16,240 small-molecule compounds in a fragment library were screened for their capabilities to inhibit the DENV type 2 (DENV2) RdRp activities in vitro. Based on in cellulo antiviral and cytotoxity assays, we selected the compound RK-0404678 with the EC50 value of 6.0 μM for DENV2. Crystallographic analyses revealed two unique binding sites for RK-0404678 within the RdRp, which are conserved in flavivirus NS5 proteins. No resistant viruses emerged after nine rounds of serial passage of DENV2 in the presence of RK-0404678, suggesting the high genetic barrier of this compound to the emergence of a resistant virus. Collectively, RK-0404678 and its binding sites provide a new framework for antiviral drug development. Dengue is a mosquito-borne infection caused by dengue viruses (DENV), and is currently a major public health concern worldwide. No antiviral drug for dengue is available. To develop a potent inhibitor of the DENV NS5 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), we performed a high-throughput screening of a fragment library. We identified RK-0404678 as a potent inhibitor of the DENV RdRp. Interestingly, we found that RK-0404678 binds to two distinct sites in the DENV RdRp domains. Site 1 lies in the thumb domain, which is distant from the active site, and Site 2 is located in the active site of the RdRp domain. RK-0404678 binding to Site 2 induces a conformational change around the Tyr607 residue. These are unique features among the known RdRp inhibitors. In addition, our adaptation experiment demonstrated that this compound imposed a high genetic barrier to the emergence of an RK-0404678-resistant virus. These characteristics of RK-0404678 suggest that this inhibitor is a promising lead compound for the development of anti-dengue therapeutics.
Kentaro Itokawa, Tsuyoshi Sekizuka, Yoshihide Maekawa, Koji Yatsu, Osamu Komagata, Masaaki Sugiura, Tomonori Sasaki, Takashi Tomita, Makoto Kuroda, Kyoko Sawabe, et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Volume 13; doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007818

Abstract:In insects, the voltage-gated sodium channel (VGSC) is the primary target site of pyrethroid insecticides. Various amino acid substitutions in the VGSC protein, which are selected under insecticide pressure, are known to confer insecticide resistance. In the genome, the VGSC gene consists of more than 30 exons sparsely distributed across a large genomic region, which often exceeds 100 kbp. Due to this complex genomic structure, it is often challenging to genotype full coding nucleotide sequences (CDSs) of VGSC from individual genomic DNA (gDNA). In this study, we designed biotinylated oligonucleotide probes from CDSs of VGSC of Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. The probe set effectively concentrated (>80,000-fold) all targeted regions of gene VGSC from pooled barcoded Illumina libraries each constructed from individual A. albopictus gDNAs. The probe set also captured all orthologous VGSC CDSs, except some tiny exons, from the gDNA of other Culicinae mosquitos, A. aegypti and Culex pipiens complex, with comparable efficiency as a result of the high nucleotide-level conservation of VGSC. To improve efficiency of the downstream bioinformatic process, we developed an automated pipeline—MoNaS (Mosquito Na+ channel mutation Search)—which calls amino acid substitutions in the VGSC from NGS reads and compares those to known resistance mutations. The proposed method and our bioinformatic tool should facilitate the discovery of novel amino acid variants conferring insecticide resistance on VGSC and population genetic studies on resistance alleles (with respect to the origin, selection, and migration etc.) in both clinically and agriculturally important insect pests. The Voltage Gated Sodium Channel (VGSC) in insect is targeted by pyrethroid insecticides and genetic variations in the protein are known to confer pyrethroid resistance. Since the VGSC gene in genome consists of many exons and long introns, there is no simple method to genotype whole of coding regions from the genomic DNA of insect. Here, we designed hybridization capture probe set to concentrate VGSC coding exons in NGS library from individual genomic DNA of the arbovirus vector mosquito Aedes albopictus. The probe set we designed was able to capture VGSC exons not only from A. albopictus genomic DNA but also from genomic DNA of two other mosquito species belonging to the same subfamily only with slight decrease of efficiency. The technology will allow unbiased analysis of the VGSC gene in multiple mosquito species with relatively low sequencing cost and enhance discovery of new resistance mutations.
Fulgence Kondo Kassi, Pascal Drakulovski, Virginie Bellet, Frédéric Roger, Amélie Chabrol, Donika Krasteva, Adama Doumbia, Roland Landman, Aka Kakou, Jacques Reynes, et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Volume 13; doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007812

Abstract:Genetic diversity analyses were performed by sero-genotyping and multi-locus sequence typing on 252 cryptococcal isolates from 13 HIV-positive Ivorian patients followed-up for cryptococcal meningitis. Antifungal susceptibility analyses were performed according to the CLSI M27A3 method. The majority (67.8%) of the isolates belonged to the Cryptococcus neoformans (serotype A) species complex, with 91.9% being VNI and 7.1% being VNII. Cryptococcus deuterogattii VGII (serotype B) represented 16.7% of the strains, while C. neoformans/C. deneoformans VNIII (serotype AD) hybrids accounted for 15.1% of the strains. One strain (0.4%) was not identifiable. Nine different sequence types (STs 5, 6, 23, 40, 93, 207, 311, and a new ST; 555) were identified in the C. neoformans population, while the C. deuterogattii population comprised the single ST 173. The distribution of the strains showed that, while the majority of patients (9/13) harboured a single sequence type, 4 patients showed mixed infections. These patients experienced up to 4 shifts in strain content either at the species and/or ST level during their follow-up. This evolution of diversity over time led to the co-existence of up to 3 different Cryptococcus species and 4 different ST within the same individual during the course of infection. Susceptibility testing showed that all strains were susceptible to amphotericin B while 3.6% of them had a none-wild type phenotype to 5-flucytosine. Concerning fluconazole, 2.9% of C.neoformans serotype A strains and 2.4% of C. deuterogattii had also respectively a none-wild type phenotype to this molecule. All C. neoformans x C. deneoformans serotype AD hybrids had however a wild type phenotype to fluconazole. The present study showed that mixed infections exist and could be of particular importance for care outcomes. Indeed, (i) the different Cryptococcus species are known to exhibit different virulence and different susceptibility patterns to antifungal drugs and (ii) the strains genetic diversity within the samples may influence the susceptibility to antifungal treatment. Cryptococcal meningitis is a neglected fungal disease responsible for 181 000 deaths worldwide in 2014, with 75% of deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. Cryptococcal meningitis is caused by environmental yeasts belonging to the Cryptococcus neoformans/Cryptococcus gattii species complexes. The evolution of the diversity of the yeast populations within the patients and during the course of treatment is poorly understood. Indeed, it was believed for a long time that infections were of a single strain type. It was only recently that the complexity of the yeast diversity during infection began to be assessed. Here, the researchers evaluated the diversity of the Cryptococcus population within Ivoirian patients. The purpose was to generate data about the overall diversity of such yeast in Western Africa where the data are scarce and to better understand the evolution of the pathogen...
Yogesh Hooda, Mohammad S. I. Sajib, Hafizur Rahman, Stephen P. Luby, Joseph Bondy-Denomy, Mathuram Santosham, Jason R. Andrews, Samir K. Saha, Senjuti Saha
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Volume 13; doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007868

Abstract:With the rise in fluoroquinolone-resistant Salmonella Typhi and the recent emergence of ceftriaxone resistance, azithromycin is one of the last oral drugs available against typhoid for which resistance is uncommon. Its increasing use, specifically in light of the ongoing outbreak of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) Salmonella Typhi (resistant to chloramphenicol, ampicillin, cotrimoxazole, streptomycin, fluoroquinolones and third-generation cephalosporins) in Pakistan, places selective pressure for the emergence and spread of azithromycin-resistant isolates. However, little is known about azithromycin resistance in Salmonella, and no molecular data are available on its mechanism. We conducted typhoid surveillance in the two largest pediatric hospitals of Bangladesh from 2009–2016. All typhoidal Salmonella strains were screened for azithromycin resistance using disc diffusion and resistance was confirmed using E-tests. In total, we identified 1,082 Salmonella Typhi and Paratyphi A strains; among these, 13 strains (12 Typhi, 1 Paratyphi A) were azithromycin-resistant (MIC range: 32–64 μg/ml) with the first case observed in 2013. We sequenced the resistant strains, but no molecular basis of macrolide resistance was identified by the currently available antimicrobial resistance prediction tools. A whole genome SNP tree, made using RAxML, showed that the 12 Typhi resistant strains clustered together within the 4.3.1.1 sub-clade (H58 lineage 1). We found a non-synonymous single-point mutation exclusively in these 12 strains in the gene encoding AcrB, an efflux pump that removes small molecules from bacterial cells. The mutation changed the conserved amino acid arginine (R) at position 717 to a glutamine (Q). To test the role of R717Q present in azithromycin-resistant strains, we cloned acrB from azithromycin-resistant and sensitive strains, expressed them in E. coli, Typhi and Paratyphi A strains and tested their azithromycin susceptibility. Expression of AcrB-R717Q in E. coli and Typhi strains increased the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) for azithromycin by 11- and 3-fold respectively. The azithromycin-resistant Paratyphi A strain also contained a mutation at R717 (R717L), whose introduction in E. coli and Paratyphi A strains increased MIC by 7- and 3-fold respectively, confirming the role of R717 mutations in conferring azithromycin resistance. This report confirms 12 azithromycin-resistant Salmonella Typhi strains and one Paratyphi A strain. The molecular basis of this resistance is one mutation in the AcrB protein at position 717. This is the first report demonstrating the impact of this non-synonymous mutation in conferring macrolide resistance in a clinical setting. With increasing azithromycin use, strains with R717 mutations may spread and be acquired by XDR strains. An azithromycin-resistant XDR strain would shift enteric fever treatment from outpatient departments, where patients are currently treated with oral azithromycin,...
Chulwoo Rhee, Grishma A. Kharod, Nicolas Schaad, Nathan W. Furukawa, Neil M. Vora, David D. Blaney, John A. Crump, Kevin R. Clarke
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Volume 13; doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007792

Abstract:Acute febrile illness (AFI), a common reason for people seeking medical care globally, represents a spectrum of infectious disease etiologies with important variations geographically and by population. There is no standardized approach to conducting AFI etiologic investigations, limiting interpretation of data in a global context. We conducted a scoping review to characterize current AFI research methodologies, identify global research gaps, and provide methodological research standardization recommendations. Using pre-defined terms, we searched Medline, Embase, and Global Health, for publications from January 1, 2005–December 31, 2017. Publications cited in previously published systematic reviews and an online study repository of non-malarial febrile illness etiologies were also included. We screened abstracts for publications reporting on human infectious disease, aimed at determining AFI etiology using laboratory diagnostics. One-hundred ninety publications underwent full-text review, using a standardized tool to collect data on study characteristics, methodology, and laboratory diagnostics. AFI case definitions between publications varied: use of self-reported fever as part of case definitions (28%, 53/190), fever cut-off value (38·0°C most commonly used: 45%, 85/190), and fever measurement site (axillary most commonly used: 19%, 36/190). Eighty-nine publications (47%) did not include exclusion criteria, and inclusion criteria in 13% (24/190) of publications did not include age group. No publications included study settings in Southern Africa, Micronesia & Polynesia, or Central Asia. We summarized standardized reporting practices, specific to AFI etiologic investigations that would increase inter-study comparability. Wider implementation of standardized AFI reporting methods, with multi-pathogen disease detection, could improve comparability of study findings, knowledge of the range of AFI etiologies, and their contributions to the global AFI burden. These steps can guide resource allocation, strengthen outbreak detection and response, target prevention efforts, and improve clinical care, especially in resource-limited settings where disease control often relies on empiric treatment. PROSPERO: CRD42016035666. Acute febrile illness (AFI) is a common reason for people seeking medical care globally with potentially serious infectious etiologies. However, AFI has no current consensus standardized approach when considered as a syndromic case definition for public health surveillance or research, especially in global settings where AFI treatment is performed with limited diagnostic availability. Therefore, the aim of this review was to describe current methodologies in AFI research, identify gaps in research, and provide recommendations for standardization of AFI research. We screened abstracts and completed full-text reviews on publications found through an extensive search. A total of 190 publications were included in the final review,...
Awtum M. Brashear, Wanlapa Roobsoong, Faiza A. Siddiqui, Wang Nguitragool, Jetsumon Sattabongkot, Margarita M. López-Uribe, Jun Miao, Liwang Cui
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Volume 13; doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007850

Abstract:Plasmodium ovale accounts for a disproportionate number of travel-related malaria cases. This parasite is understudied since there is a reliance on clinical samples. We collected a P. ovale curtisi parasite isolate from a clinical case in western Thailand and performed RNA-seq analysis on the blood stage transcriptomes. Using both de novo assembly and alignment-based methods, we detected the transcripts for 6628 out of 7280 annotated genes. For those lacking evidence of expression, the vast majority belonged to the PIR and STP1 gene families. We identified new splicing patterns for over 2500 genes, and mapped at least one untranslated region for over half of all annotated genes. Our analysis also detected a notable presence of anti-sense transcripts for over 10% of P. ovale curtisi genes. This transcriptomic analysis provides new insights into the blood-stage biology of this neglected parasite. Ovale malaria can be caused by one of two Plasmodium parasites, P. ovale curtisi and P. ovale wallikeri. P. ovale parasites are especially adept at evading prophylactic antimalarial drugs and traveling internationally, which makes them interesting from a global health perspective. Due to the lack of a continuous culture system for these parasites, research on P. ovale parasites has lagged behind and relies on clinical samples. Recent genome sequencing of a few P. ovale clinical isolates provides the blueprint of the parasite genome and in silico prediction of parasite genes. However, confirmation of the annotated genes and proof of their expression are needed. Here we obtained a P. ovale curtisi clinical isolate from western Thailand and performed RNA-seq analysis on the blood-stage parasites. High-quality RNA-seq data has enabled us to identify transcripts for 6628 of the 7280 annotated genes. Consistent with the blood stage development, housekeeping genes such as those involved in translation and metabolism are highly expressed. Prediction of the UTRs as well as detection of anti-sense transcripts and potential splicing patterns suggests the presence of complex gene regulation mechanisms for this parasite. This transcriptome dataset will serve as a useful resource for future studies of P. ovale.