Publications by authors named "Brian L Weiss"

38 Publications

Paratransgenic manipulation of a tsetse microRNA alters the physiological homeostasis of the fly's midgut environment.

PLoS Pathog 2021 Jun 9;17(6):e1009475. Epub 2021 Jun 9.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.

Tsetse flies are vectors of parasitic African trypanosomes, the etiological agents of human and animal African trypanosomoses. Current disease control methods include fly-repelling pesticides, fly trapping, and chemotherapeutic treatment of infected people and animals. Inhibiting tsetse's ability to transmit trypanosomes by strengthening the fly's natural barriers can serve as an alternative approach to reduce disease. The peritrophic matrix (PM) is a chitinous and proteinaceous barrier that lines the insect midgut and serves as a protective barrier that inhibits infection with pathogens. African trypanosomes must cross tsetse's PM in order to establish an infection in the fly, and PM structural integrity negatively correlates with trypanosome infection outcomes. Bloodstream form trypanosomes shed variant surface glycoproteins (VSG) into tsetse's gut lumen early during the infection establishment, and free VSG molecules are internalized by the fly's PM-producing cardia. This process results in a reduction in the expression of a tsetse microRNA (miR275) and a sequential molecular cascade that compromises PM integrity. miRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that are critical in regulating many physiological processes. In the present study, we investigated the role(s) of tsetse miR275 by developing a paratransgenic expression system that employs tsetse's facultative bacterial endosymbiont, Sodalis glossinidius, to express tandem antagomir-275 repeats (or miR275 sponges). This system induces a constitutive, 40% reduction in miR275 transcript abundance in the fly's midgut and results in obstructed blood digestion (gut weights increased by 52%), a significant increase (p-value < 0.0001) in fly survival following infection with an entomopathogenic bacteria, and a 78% increase in trypanosome infection prevalence. RNA sequencing of cardia and midgut tissues from paratransgenic tsetse confirmed that miR275 regulates processes related to the expression of PM-associated proteins and digestive enzymes as well as genes that encode abundant secretory proteins. Our study demonstrates that paratransgenesis can be employed to study microRNA regulated pathways in arthropods that house symbiotic bacteria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1009475DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8216540PMC
June 2021

Single-cell RNA sequencing of from tsetse salivary glands unveils metacyclogenesis and identifies potential transmission blocking antigens.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 02 21;117(5):2613-2621. Epub 2020 Jan 21.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520;

Tsetse-transmitted African trypanosomes must develop into mammalian-infectious metacyclic cells in the fly's salivary glands (SGs) before transmission to a new host. The molecular mechanisms that underlie this developmental process, known as metacyclogenesis, are poorly understood. Blocking the few metacyclic parasites deposited in saliva from further development in the mammal could prevent disease. To obtain an in-depth perspective of metacyclogenesis, we performed single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) from a pool of 2,045 parasites collected from infected tsetse SGs. Our data revealed three major cell clusters that represent the epimastigote, and pre- and mature metacyclic trypanosome developmental stages. Individual cell level data also confirm that the metacyclic pool is diverse, and that each parasite expresses only one of the unique metacyclic variant surface glycoprotein (mVSG) coat protein transcripts identified. Further clustering of cells revealed a dynamic transcriptomic and metabolic landscape reflective of a developmental program leading to infectious metacyclic forms preadapted to survive in the mammalian host environment. We describe the expression profile of proteins that regulate gene expression and that potentially play a role in metacyclogenesis. We also report on a family of nonvariant surface proteins (Fam10) and demonstrate surface localization of one member (named SGM1.7) on mature metacyclic parasites. Vaccination of mice with recombinant SGM1.7 reduced parasitemia early in the infection. Future studies are warranted to investigate Fam10 family proteins as potential trypanosome transmission blocking vaccine antigens. Our experimental approach is translationally relevant for developing strategies to prevent other insect saliva-transmitted parasites from infecting and causing disease in mammalian hosts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1914423117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7007551PMC
February 2020

Thermal stress responses of Sodalis glossinidius, an indigenous bacterial symbiont of hematophagous tsetse flies.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2019 11 18;13(11):e0007464. Epub 2019 Nov 18.

Yale School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.

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.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007464DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6887450PMC
November 2019

Comparative genomic analysis of six Glossina genomes, vectors of African trypanosomes.

Genome Biol 2019 09 2;20(1):187. Epub 2019 Sep 2.

McDonnell Genome Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.

Background: Tsetse flies (Glossina sp.) are the vectors of human and animal trypanosomiasis throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Tsetse flies are distinguished from other Diptera by unique adaptations, including lactation and the birthing of live young (obligate viviparity), a vertebrate blood-specific diet by both sexes, and obligate bacterial symbiosis. This work describes the comparative analysis of six Glossina genomes representing three sub-genera: Morsitans (G. morsitans morsitans, G. pallidipes, G. austeni), Palpalis (G. palpalis, G. fuscipes), and Fusca (G. brevipalpis) which represent different habitats, host preferences, and vectorial capacity.

Results: Genomic analyses validate established evolutionary relationships and sub-genera. Syntenic analysis of Glossina relative to Drosophila melanogaster shows reduced structural conservation across the sex-linked X chromosome. Sex-linked scaffolds show increased rates of female-specific gene expression and lower evolutionary rates relative to autosome associated genes. Tsetse-specific genes are enriched in protease, odorant-binding, and helicase activities. Lactation-associated genes are conserved across all Glossina species while male seminal proteins are rapidly evolving. Olfactory and gustatory genes are reduced across the genus relative to other insects. Vision-associated Rhodopsin genes show conservation of motion detection/tracking functions and variance in the Rhodopsin detecting colors in the blue wavelength ranges.

Conclusions: Expanded genomic discoveries reveal the genetics underlying Glossina biology and provide a rich body of knowledge for basic science and disease control. They also provide insight into the evolutionary biology underlying novel adaptations and are relevant to applied aspects of vector control such as trap design and discovery of novel pest and disease control strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13059-019-1768-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6721284PMC
September 2019

Spatio-temporal distribution of Spiroplasma infections in the tsetse fly (Glossina fuscipes fuscipes) in northern Uganda.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2019 08 1;13(8):e0007340. Epub 2019 Aug 1.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, United States of America.

Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) are vectors of parasitic trypanosomes, which cause human (HAT) and animal African trypanosomiasis (AAT) in sub-Saharan Africa. In Uganda, Glossina fuscipes fuscipes (Gff) is the main vector of HAT, where it transmits Gambiense disease in the northwest and Rhodesiense disease in central, southeast and western regions. Endosymbionts can influence transmission efficiency of parasites through their insect vectors via conferring a protective effect against the parasite. It is known that the bacterium Spiroplasma is capable of protecting its Drosophila host from infection with a parasitic nematode. This endosymbiont can also impact its host's population structure via altering host reproductive traits. Here, we used field collections across 26 different Gff sampling sites in northern and western Uganda to investigate the association of Spiroplasma with geographic origin, seasonal conditions, Gff genetic background and sex, and trypanosome infection status. We also investigated the influence of Spiroplasma on Gff vector competence to trypanosome infections under laboratory conditions. Generalized linear models (GLM) showed that Spiroplasma probability was correlated with the geographic origin of Gff host and with the season of collection, with higher prevalence found in flies within the Albert Nile (0.42 vs 0.16) and Achwa River (0.36 vs 0.08) watersheds and with higher prevalence detected in flies collected in the intermediate than wet season. In contrast, there was no significant correlation of Spiroplasma prevalence with Gff host genetic background or sex once geographic origin was accounted for in generalized linear models. Additionally, we found a potential negative correlation of Spiroplasma with trypanosome infection, with only 2% of Spiroplasma infected flies harboring trypanosome co-infections. We also found that in a laboratory line of Gff, parasitic trypanosomes are less likely to colonize the midgut in individuals that harbor Spiroplasma infection. These results indicate that Spiroplasma infections in tsetse may be maintained by not only maternal but also via horizontal transmission routes, and Spiroplasma infections may also have important effects on trypanosome transmission efficiency of the host tsetse. Potential functional effects of Spiroplasma infection in Gff could have impacts on vector control approaches to reduce trypanosome infections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007340DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6692048PMC
August 2019

Mutualist-Provisioned Resources Impact Vector Competency.

mBio 2019 06 4;10(3). Epub 2019 Jun 4.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Many symbionts supplement their host's diet with essential nutrients. However, whether these nutrients also enhance parasitism is unknown. In this study, we investigated whether folate (vitamin B) production by the tsetse fly ( spp.) essential mutualist, , aids auxotrophic African trypanosomes in completing their life cycle within this obligate vector. We show that the expression of folate biosynthesis genes changes with the progression of trypanosome infection within tsetse. The disruption of folate production caused a reduction in the percentage of flies that housed midgut (MG) trypanosome infections. However, decreased folate did not prevent MG trypanosomes from migrating to and establishing an infection in the fly's salivary glands, thus suggesting that nutrient requirements vary throughout the trypanosome life cycle. We further substantiated that trypanosomes rely on symbiont-generated folate by feeding this vitamin to , which exhibits low trypanosome vector competency and houses incapable of producing folate. Folate-supplemented flies were significantly more susceptible to trypanosome infection, further demonstrating that this vitamin facilitates parasite infection establishment. Our cumulative results provide evidence that provides a key metabolite (folate) that is "hijacked" by trypanosomes to enhance their infectivity, thus indirectly impacting tsetse species vector competency. Parasite dependence on symbiont-derived micronutrients, which likely also occurs in other arthropod vectors, represents a relationship that may be exploited to reduce disease transmission. Parasites elicit several physiological changes in their host to enhance transmission. Little is known about the functional association between parasitism and microbiota-provisioned resources typically dedicated to animal hosts and how these goods may be rerouted to optimize parasite development. This study is the first to identify a specific symbiont-generated metabolite that impacts insect vector competence by facilitating parasite establishment and, thus, eventual transmission. Specifically, we demonstrate that the tsetse fly obligate mutualist provisions folate (vitamin B) that pathogenic African trypanosomes exploit in an effort to successfully establish an infection in the vector's MG. This process is essential for the parasite to complete its life cycle and be transmitted to a new vertebrate host. Disrupting metabolic contributions provided by the microbiota of arthropod disease vectors may fuel future innovative control strategies while also offering minimal nontarget effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00018-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6550517PMC
June 2019

The molecular and cellular basis of olfactory response to tsetse fly attractants.

PLoS Genet 2019 03 15;15(3):e1008005. Epub 2019 Mar 15.

Dept. of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.

Dipteran or "true" flies occupy nearly every terrestrial habitat, and have evolved to feed upon a wide variety of sources including fruit, pollen, decomposing animal matter, and even vertebrate blood. Here we analyze the molecular, genetic and cellular basis of odor response in the tsetse fly Glossina morsitans, which feeds on the blood of humans and their livestock, and is a vector of deadly trypanosomes. The G. morsitans antenna contains specialized subtypes of sensilla, some of which line a sensory pit not found in the fruit fly Drosophila. We characterize distinct patterns of G. morsitans Odor receptor (GmmOr) gene expression in the antenna. We devise a new version of the "empty neuron" heterologous expression system, and use it to functionally express several GmmOrs in a mutant olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) of Drosophila. GmmOr35 responds to 1-hexen-3-ol, an odorant found in human emanations, and also alpha-pinene, a compound produced by malarial parasites. Another receptor, GmmOr9, which is expressed in the sensory pit, responds to acetone, 2-butanone and 2-propanol. We confirm by electrophysiological recording that neurons of the sensory pit respond to these odorants. Acetone and 2-butanone are strong attractants long used in the field to trap tsetse. We find that 2-propanol is also an attractant for both G. morsitans and the related species G. fuscipes, a major vector of African sleeping sickness. The results identify 2-propanol as a candidate for an environmentally friendly and practical tsetse attractant. Taken together, this work characterizes the olfactory system of a highly distinct kind of fly, and it provides an approach to identifying new agents for controlling the fly and the devastating diseases that it carries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1008005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6420007PMC
March 2019

Colonization of the tsetse fly midgut with commensal Kosakonia cowanii Zambiae inhibits trypanosome infection establishment.

PLoS Pathog 2019 02 28;15(2):e1007470. Epub 2019 Feb 28.

Yale School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.

Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) vector pathogenic trypanosomes (Trypanosoma spp.) in sub-Saharan Africa. These parasites cause human and animal African trypanosomiases, which are debilitating diseases that inflict an enormous socio-economic burden on inhabitants of endemic regions. Current disease control strategies rely primarily on treating infected animals and reducing tsetse population densities. However, relevant programs are costly, labor intensive and difficult to sustain. As such, novel strategies aimed at reducing tsetse vector competence require development. Herein we investigated whether Kosakonia cowanii Zambiae (Kco_Z), which confers Anopheles gambiae with resistance to Plasmodium, is able to colonize tsetse and induce a trypanosome refractory phenotype in the fly. Kco_Z established stable infections in tsetse's gut and exhibited no adverse effect on the fly's survival. Flies with established Kco_Z infections in their gut were significantly more refractory to infection with two distinct trypanosome species (T. congolense, 6% infection; T. brucei, 32% infection) than were age-matched flies that did not house the exogenous bacterium (T. congolense, 36% infected; T. brucei, 70% infected). Additionally, 52% of Kco_Z colonized tsetse survived infection with entomopathogenic Serratia marcescens, compared with only 9% of their wild-type counterparts. These parasite and pathogen refractory phenotypes result from the fact that Kco_Z acidifies tsetse's midgut environment, which inhibits trypanosome and Serratia growth and thus infection establishment. Finally, we determined that Kco_Z infection does not impact the fecundity of male or female tsetse, nor the ability of male flies to compete with their wild-type counterparts for mates. We propose that Kco_Z could be used as one component of an integrated strategy aimed at reducing the ability of tsetse to transmit pathogenic trypanosomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1007470DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6394900PMC
February 2019

Effect of antibiotic treatment and gamma-irradiation on cuticular hydrocarbon profiles and mate choice in tsetse flies (Glossina m. morsitans).

BMC Microbiol 2018 11 23;18(Suppl 1):145. Epub 2018 Nov 23.

Insect Symbiosis Research Group, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany.

Background: Symbiotic microbes represent a driving force of evolutionary innovation by conferring novel ecological traits to their hosts. Many insects are associated with microbial symbionts that contribute to their host's nutrition, digestion, detoxification, reproduction, immune homeostasis, and defense. In addition, recent studies suggest a microbial involvement in chemical communication and mating behavior, which can ultimately impact reproductive isolation and, hence, speciation. Here we investigated whether a disruption of the microbiota through antibiotic treatment or irradiation affects cuticular hydrocarbon profiles, and possibly mate choice behavior in the tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans morsitans. Four independent experiments that differentially knock down the multiple bacterial symbionts of tsetse flies were conducted by subjecting tsetse flies to ampicillin, tetracycline, or gamma-irradiation and analyzing their cuticular hydrocarbon profiles in comparison to untreated controls by gas chromatography - mass spectrometry. In two of the antibiotic experiments, flies were mass-reared, while individual rearing was done for the third experiment to avoid possible chemical cross-contamination between individual flies.

Results: All three antibiotic experiments yielded significant effects of antibiotic treatment (particularly tetracycline) on cuticular hydrocarbon profiles in both female and male G. m. morsitans, while irradiation itself had no effect on the CHC profiles. Importantly, tetracycline treatment reduced relative amounts of 15,19,23-trimethyl-heptatriacontane, a known compound of the female contact sex pheromone, in two of the three experiments, suggesting a possible implication of microbiota disturbance on mate choice decisions. Concordantly, both female and male flies preferred non-treated over tetracycline-treated flies in direct choice assays.

Conclusions: While we cannot exclude the possibility that antibiotic treatment had a directly detrimental effect on fly vigor as we are unable to recolonize antibiotic treated flies with individual symbiont taxa, our results are consistent with an effect of the microbiota, particularly the obligate nutritional endosymbiont Wigglesworthia, on CHC profiles and mate choice behavior. These findings highlight the importance of considering host-microbiota interactions when studying chemical communication and mate choice in insects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12866-018-1292-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251160PMC
November 2018

Enhancing vector refractoriness to trypanosome infection: achievements, challenges and perspectives.

BMC Microbiol 2018 11 23;18(Suppl 1):179. Epub 2018 Nov 23.

Molecular Department, Vector and Vector Borne Diseases Institute, Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency, Majani Mapana, Off Korogwe Road, Box, 1026, Tanga, Tanzania.

With the absence of effective prophylactic vaccines and drugs against African trypanosomosis, control of this group of zoonotic neglected tropical diseases depends the control of the tsetse fly vector. When applied in an area-wide insect pest management approach, the sterile insect technique (SIT) is effective in eliminating single tsetse species from isolated populations. The need to enhance the effectiveness of SIT led to the concept of investigating tsetse-trypanosome interactions by a consortium of researchers in a five-year (2013-2018) Coordinated Research Project (CRP) organized by the Joint Division of FAO/IAEA. The goal of this CRP was to elucidate tsetse-symbiome-pathogen molecular interactions to improve SIT and SIT-compatible interventions for trypanosomoses control by enhancing vector refractoriness. This would allow extension of SIT into areas with potential disease transmission. This paper highlights the CRP's major achievements and discusses the science-based perspectives for successful mitigation or eradication of African trypanosomosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12866-018-1280-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251094PMC
November 2018

Analysis of the gut-specific microbiome from field-captured tsetse flies, and its potential relevance to host trypanosome vector competence.

BMC Microbiol 2018 11 23;18(Suppl 1):146. Epub 2018 Nov 23.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA.

Background: The tsetse fly (Glossina sp.) midgut is colonized by maternally transmitted and environmentally acquired bacteria. Additionally, the midgut serves as a niche in which pathogenic African trypanosomes reside within infected flies. Tsetse's bacterial microbiota impacts many aspects of the fly's physiology. However, little is known about the structure of tsetse's midgut-associated bacterial communities as they relate to geographically distinct fly habitats in east Africa and their contributions to parasite infection outcomes. We utilized culture dependent and independent methods to characterize the taxonomic structure and density of bacterial communities that reside within the midgut of tsetse flies collected at geographically distinct locations in Kenya and Uganda.

Results: Using culture dependent methods, we isolated 34 strains of bacteria from four different tsetse species (G. pallidipes, G. brevipalpis, G. fuscipes and G. fuscipleuris) captured at three distinct locations in Kenya. To increase the depth of this study, we deep sequenced midguts from individual uninfected and trypanosome infected G. pallidipes captured at two distinct locations in Kenya and one in Uganda. We found that tsetse's obligate endosymbiont, Wigglesworthia, was the most abundant bacterium present in the midgut of G. pallidipes, and the density of this bacterium remained largely consistent regardless of whether or not its tsetse host was infected with trypanosomes. These fly populations also housed the commensal symbiont Sodalis, which was found at significantly higher densities in trypanosome infected compared to uninfected flies. Finally, midguts of field-captured G. pallidipes were colonized with distinct, low density communities of environmentally acquired microbes that differed in taxonomic structure depending on parasite infection status and the geographic location from which the flies were collected.

Conclusions: The results of this study will enhance our understanding of the tripartite relationship between tsetse, its microbiota and trypanosome vector competence. This information may be useful for developing novel disease control strategies or enhancing the efficacy of those already in use.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12866-018-1284-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251097PMC
November 2018

What can a weevil teach a fly, and reciprocally? Interaction of host immune systems with endosymbionts in Glossina and Sitophilus.

BMC Microbiol 2018 11 23;18(Suppl 1):150. Epub 2018 Nov 23.

Univ Lyon, INSA-Lyon, INRA, BF2I, UMR0203, F-69621, Villeurbanne, France.

The tsetse fly (Glossina genus) is the main vector of African trypanosomes, which are protozoan parasites that cause human and animal African trypanosomiases in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the frame of the IAEA/FAO program 'Enhancing Vector Refractoriness to Trypanosome Infection', in addition to the tsetse, the cereal weevil Sitophilus has been introduced as a comparative system with regards to immune interactions with endosymbionts. The cereal weevil is an agricultural pest that destroys a significant proportion of cereal stocks worldwide. Tsetse flies are associated with three symbiotic bacteria, the multifunctional obligate Wigglesworthia glossinidia, the facultative commensal Sodalis glossinidius and the parasitic Wolbachia. Cereal weevils house an obligatory nutritional symbiosis with the bacterium Sodalis pierantonius, and occasionally Wolbachia. Studying insect host-symbiont interactions is highly relevant both for understanding the evolution of symbiosis and for envisioning novel pest control strategies. In both insects, the long co-evolution between host and endosymbiont has led to a stringent integration of the host-bacteria partnership. These associations were facilitated by the development of specialized host traits, including symbiont-housing cells called bacteriocytes and specific immune features that enable both tolerance and control of the bacteria. In this review, we compare the tsetse and weevil model systems and compile the latest research findings regarding their biological and ecological similarities, how the immune system controls endosymbiont load and location, and how host-symbiont interactions impact developmental features including cuticle synthesis and immune system maturation. We focus mainly on the interactions between the obligate symbionts and their host's immune systems, a central theme in both model systems. Finally, we highlight how parallel studies on cereal weevils and tsetse flies led to mutual discoveries and stimulated research on each model, creating a pivotal example of scientific improvement through comparison between relatively distant models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12866-018-1278-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251153PMC
November 2018

Expression profiling of Trypanosoma congolense genes during development in the tsetse fly vector Glossina morsitans morsitans.

Parasit Vectors 2018 Jul 3;11(1):380. Epub 2018 Jul 3.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA.

Background: The tsetse transmitted parasitic flagellate Trypanosoma congolense causes animal African trypanosomosis (AAT) across sub-Saharan Africa. AAT negatively impacts agricultural, economic, nutritional and subsequently, health status of the affected populace. The molecular mechanisms that underlie T. congolense's developmental program within tsetse are largely unknown due to considerable challenges with obtaining sufficient parasite cells to perform molecular studies.

Methods: In this study, we used RNA-seq to profile T. congolense gene expression during development in two distinct tsetse tissues, the cardia and proboscis. Indirect immunofluorescent antibody test (IFA) and confocal laser scanning microscope was used to localize the expression of a putative protein encoded by the hypothetical protein (TcIL3000_0_02370).

Results: Consistent with current knowledge, genes coding several variant surface glycoproteins (including metacyclic specific VSGs), and the surface coat protein, congolense epimastigote specific protein, were upregulated in parasites in the proboscis (PB-parasites). Additionally, our results indicate that parasites in tsetse's cardia (C-parasites) and PB employ oxidative phosphorylation and amino acid metabolism for energy. Several genes upregulated in C-parasites encoded receptor-type adenylate cyclases, surface carboxylate transporter family proteins (or PADs), transport proteins, RNA-binding proteins and procyclin isoforms. Gene ontology analysis of products of genes upregulated in C-parasites showed enrichment of terms broadly associated with nucleotides, microtubules, cell membrane and its components, cell signaling, quorum sensing and several transport activities, suggesting that the parasites colonizing the cardia may monitor their environment and regulate their density and movement in this tissue. Additionally, cell surface protein (CSP) encoding genes associated with the Fam50 'GARP', 'iii' and 'i' subfamilies were also significantly upregulated in C-parasites, suggesting that they are important for the long non-dividing trypomastigotes to colonize tsetse's cardia. The putative products of genes that were upregulated in PB-parasites were linked to nucleosomes, cytoplasm and membrane-bound organelles, which suggest that parasites in this niche undergo cell division in line with prior findings. Most of the CSPs upregulated in PB-parasites were hypothetical, thus requiring further functional characterization. Expression of one such hypothetical protein (TcIL3000_0_02370) was analyzed using immunofluorescence and confocal laser scanning microscopy, which together revealed preferential expression of this protein on the entire surface coat of T. congolense parasite stages that colonize G. m. morsitans' proboscis.

Conclusion: Collectively, our results provide insight into T. congolense gene expression profiles in distinct niches within the tsetse vector. Our results show that the hypothetical protein TcIL3000_0_02370, is expressed on the entire surface of the trypanosomes inhabiting tsetse's proboscis. We discuss our results in terms of their relevance to disease transmission processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-018-2964-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6029126PMC
July 2018

A fine-tuned vector-parasite dialogue in tsetse's cardia determines peritrophic matrix integrity and trypanosome transmission success.

PLoS Pathog 2018 04 3;14(4):e1006972. Epub 2018 Apr 3.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.

Arthropod vectors have multiple physical and immunological barriers that impede the development and transmission of parasites to new vertebrate hosts. These barriers include the peritrophic matrix (PM), a chitinous barrier that separates the blood bolus from the midgut epithelia and modulates vector-pathogens interactions. In tsetse flies, a sleeve-like PM is continuously produced by the cardia organ located at the fore- and midgut junction. African trypanosomes, Trypanosoma brucei, must bypass the PM twice; first to colonize the midgut and secondly to reach the salivary glands (SG), to complete their transmission cycle in tsetse. However, not all flies with midgut infections develop mammalian transmissible SG infections-the reasons for which are unclear. Here, we used transcriptomics, microscopy and functional genomics analyses to understand the factors that regulate parasite migration from midgut to SG. In flies with midgut infections only, parasites fail to cross the PM as they are eliminated from the cardia by reactive oxygen intermediates (ROIs)-albeit at the expense of collateral cytotoxic damage to the cardia. In flies with midgut and SG infections, expression of genes encoding components of the PM is reduced in the cardia, and structural integrity of the PM barrier is compromised. Under these circumstances trypanosomes traverse through the newly secreted and compromised PM. The process of PM attrition that enables the parasites to re-enter into the midgut lumen is apparently mediated by components of the parasites residing in the cardia. Thus, a fine-tuned dialogue between tsetse and trypanosomes at the cardia determines the outcome of PM integrity and trypanosome transmission success.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006972DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5898766PMC
April 2018

Uncovering Genomic Regions Associated with Infections in Wild Populations of the Tsetse Fly .

G3 (Bethesda) 2018 03 2;8(3):887-897. Epub 2018 Mar 2.

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511.

Vector-borne diseases are responsible for > 1 million deaths every year but genomic resources for most species responsible for their transmission are limited. This is true for neglected diseases such as sleeping sickness (Human African Trypanosomiasis), a disease caused by parasites vectored by several species of tseste flies within the genus We describe an integrative approach that identifies statistical associations between trypanosome infection status of () flies from Uganda, for which functional studies are complicated because the species cannot be easily maintained in laboratory colonies, and ∼73,000 polymorphic sites distributed across the genome. Then, we identify candidate genes involved in trypanosome susceptibility by taking advantage of genomic resources from a closely related species, (). We compiled a comprehensive transcript library from 72 published and unpublished RNAseq experiments of trypanosome-infected and uninfected flies, and improved the current transcriptome assembly. This new assembly was then used to enhance the functional annotations on the genome. As a consequence, we identified 56 candidate genes in the vicinity of the 18 regions associated with infection status in Twenty-nine of these genes were differentially expressed (DE) among parasite-infected and uninfected , suggesting that their orthologs in may correlate with disease transmission. These genes were involved in DNA regulation, neurophysiological functions, and immune responses. We highlight the power of integrating population and functional genomics from related species to enhance our understanding of the genetic basis of physiological traits, particularly in nonmodel organisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1534/g3.117.300493DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5844309PMC
March 2018

Tsetse fly (Glossina pallidipes) midgut responses to Trypanosoma brucei challenge.

Parasit Vectors 2017 Dec 19;10(1):614. Epub 2017 Dec 19.

Department of Biochemistry, Biotechnology Research Institute, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, P.O. Box 362, Kikuyu, Kenya.

Background: Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) are the prominent vector of African trypanosome parasites (Trypanosoma spp.) in sub-Saharan Africa, and Glossina pallidipes is the most widely distributed species in Kenya. This species displays strong resistance to infection by parasites, which are typically eliminated in the midgut shortly after acquisition from the mammalian host. Although extensive molecular information on immunity for the related species Glossina morsitans morsitans exists, similar information is scarce for G. pallidipes.

Methods: To determine temporal transcriptional responses of G. pallidipes to Trypanosoma brucei brucei challenge, we conducted Illumina based RNA-seq on midgut organ and carcass from teneral females G. pallidipes at 24 and 48 h post-challenge (hpc) with T. b. brucei relative to their respective controls that received normal blood meals (without the parasite). We used a suite of bioinformatics tools to determine differentially expressed and enriched transcripts between and among tissues, and to identify expanded transcripts in G. pallidipes relative to their orthologs G. m. morsitans.

Results: Midgut transcripts induced at 24 hpc encoded proteins were associated with lipid remodelling, proteolysis, collagen metabolism, apoptosis, and cell growth. Midgut transcripts induced at 48 hpc encoded proteins linked to embryonic growth and development, serine endopeptidases and proteosomal degradation of the target protein, mRNA translation and neuronal development. Temporal expression of immune responsive transcripts at 48 relative to 24 hpc was pronounced, indicative of a gradual induction of host immune responses the following challenge. We also searched for G. m. morsitans orthologous groups that may have experienced expansions in the G. pallidipes genome. We identified ten expanded groups in G. pallidipes with putative immunity-related functions, which may play a role in the higher refractoriness exhibited by this species.

Conclusions: There appears to be a lack of strong immune responses elicited by gut epithelia of teneral adults. This in combination with a compromised peritrophic matrix at this stage during the initial phase of T. b. brucei challenge may facilitate the increased parasite infection establishment noted in teneral flies relative to older adults. Although teneral flies are more susceptible than older adults, the majority of tenerals are still able to eliminate parasite infections. Hence, robust responses elicited at a later time point, such as 72 hpc, may clear parasite infections from the majority of flies. The expanded G. m. morsitans orthologous groups in G. pallidipes may also be functionally associated with the enhanced refractoriness to trypanosome infections reported in G. pallidipes relative to G. m. morsitans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-017-2569-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5738168PMC
December 2017

Molecular characterization of tsetse's proboscis and its response to Trypanosoma congolense infection.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2017 Nov 20;11(11):e0006057. Epub 2017 Nov 20.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, United States of America.

Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) transmit parasitic African trypanosomes (Trypanosoma spp.), including Trypanosoma congolense, which causes animal African trypanosomiasis (AAT). AAT detrimentally affects agricultural activities in sub-Saharan Africa and has negative impacts on the livelihood and nutrient availability for the affected communities. After tsetse ingests an infectious blood meal, T. congolense sequentially colonizes the fly's gut and proboscis (PB) organs before being transmitted to new mammalian hosts during subsequent feedings. Despite the importance of PB in blood feeding and disease transmission, little is known about its molecular composition, function and response to trypanosome infection. To bridge this gap, we used RNA-seq analysis to determine its molecular characteristics and responses to trypanosome infection. By comparing the PB transcriptome to whole head and midgut transcriptomes, we identified 668 PB-enriched transcripts that encoded proteins associated with muscle tissue, organ development, chemosensation and chitin-cuticle structure development. Moreover, transcripts encoding putative mechanoreceptors that monitor blood flow during tsetse feeding and interact with trypanosomes were also expressed in the PB. Microscopic analysis of the PB revealed cellular structures associated with muscles and cells. Infection with T. congolense resulted in increased and decreased expression of 38 and 88 transcripts, respectively. Twelve of these differentially expressed transcripts were PB-enriched. Among the transcripts induced upon infection were those encoding putative proteins associated with cell division function(s), suggesting enhanced tissue renewal, while those suppressed were associated with metabolic processes, extracellular matrix and ATP-binding as well as immunity. These results suggest that PB is a muscular organ with chemosensory and mechanosensory capabilities. The mechanoreceptors may be point of PB-trypanosomes interactions. T. congolense infection resulted in reduced metabolic and immune capacity of the PB. The molecular knowledge on the composition and putative functions of PB forms the foundation to identify new targets to disrupt tsetse's ability to feed and parasite transmission.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006057DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5695773PMC
November 2017

Unravelling the relationship between the tsetse fly and its obligate symbiont : transcriptomic and metabolomic landscapes reveal highly integrated physiological networks.

Proc Biol Sci 2017 Jun;284(1857)

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT 06520, USA

Insects with restricted diets rely on obligate microbes to fulfil nutritional requirements essential for biological function. Tsetse flies, vectors of African trypanosome parasites, feed exclusively on vertebrate blood and harbour the obligate endosymbiont Without , tsetse are unable to reproduce. These symbionts are sheltered within specialized cells (bacteriocytes) that form the midgut-associated bacteriome organ. To decipher the core functions of this symbiosis essential for tsetse's survival, we performed dual-RNA-seq analysis of the bacteriome, coupled with metabolomic analysis of bacteriome and haemolymph collected from normal and symbiont-cured (sterile) females. Bacteriocytes produce immune regulatory peptidoglycan recognition protein () that protects , and a multivitamin transporter () that can aid in nutrient dissemination. overexpress a molecular chaperone (GroEL) to augment their translational/transport machinery and biosynthesize an abundance of B vitamins (specifically B-, B-, B- and B-associated metabolites) to supplement the host's nutritionally deficient diet. The absence of contributions disrupts multiple metabolic pathways impacting carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism. These disruptions affect the dependent downstream processes of nucleotide biosynthesis and metabolism and biosynthesis of -adenosyl methionine (SAM), an essential cofactor. This holistic fundamental knowledge of the symbiotic dialogue highlights new biological targets for the development of innovative vector control methods.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.0360DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5489720PMC
June 2017

Symbiont-induced odorant binding proteins mediate insect host hematopoiesis.

Elife 2017 01 12;6. Epub 2017 Jan 12.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, United States.

Symbiotic bacteria assist in maintaining homeostasis of the animal immune system. However, the molecular mechanisms that underlie symbiont-mediated host immunity are largely unknown. Tsetse flies ( spp.) house maternally transmitted symbionts that regulate the development and function of their host's immune system. Herein we demonstrate that the obligate mutualist, , up-regulates expression of in the gut of intrauterine tsetse larvae. This process is necessary and sufficient to induce systemic expression of the hematopoietic RUNX transcription factor and the subsequent production of crystal cells, which actuate the melanotic immune response in adult tsetse. Larval indigenous microbiota, which is acquired from the environment, regulates an orthologous hematopoietic pathway in their host. These findings provide insight into the molecular mechanisms that underlie enteric symbiont-stimulated systemic immune system development, and indicate that these processes are evolutionarily conserved despite the divergent nature of host-symbiont interactions in these model systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.19535DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5231409PMC
January 2017

Grandeur Alliances: Symbiont Metabolic Integration and Obligate Arthropod Hematophagy.

Trends Parasitol 2016 09 25;32(9):739-749. Epub 2016 May 25.

Yale School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.

Several arthropod taxa live exclusively on vertebrate blood. This food source lacks essential metabolites required for the maintenance of metabolic homeostasis, and as such, these arthropods have formed symbioses with nutrient-supplementing microbes that facilitate their host's 'hematophagous' feeding ecology. Herein we highlight metabolic contributions of bacterial symbionts that reside within tsetse flies, bed bugs, lice, reduviid bugs, and ticks, with specific emphasis on B vitamin and cofactor biosynthesis. Importantly, these arthropods can transmit pathogens of medical and veterinary relevance and/or cause infestations that induce psychological and dermatological distress. Microbial metabolites, and the biochemical pathways that generate them, can serve as specific targets of novel control mechanisms aimed at disrupting the metabolism of hematophagous arthropods, thus combatting pest invasion and vector-borne pathogen transmission.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pt.2016.05.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5007164PMC
September 2016

Mammalian African trypanosome VSG coat enhances tsetse's vector competence.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2016 06 16;113(25):6961-6. Epub 2016 May 16.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520;

Tsetse flies are biological vectors of African trypanosomes, the protozoan parasites responsible for causing human and animal trypanosomiases across sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, no vaccines are available for disease prevention due to antigenic variation of the Variant Surface Glycoproteins (VSG) that coat parasites while they reside within mammalian hosts. As a result, interference with parasite development in the tsetse vector is being explored to reduce disease transmission. A major bottleneck to infection occurs as parasites attempt to colonize tsetse's midgut. One critical factor influencing this bottleneck is the fly's peritrophic matrix (PM), a semipermeable, chitinous barrier that lines the midgut. The mechanisms that enable trypanosomes to cross this barrier are currently unknown. Here, we determined that as parasites enter the tsetse's gut, VSG molecules released from trypanosomes are internalized by cells of the cardia-the tissue responsible for producing the PM. VSG internalization results in decreased expression of a tsetse microRNA (mir-275) and interferes with the Wnt-signaling pathway and the Iroquois/IRX transcription factor family. This interference reduces the function of the PM barrier and promotes parasite colonization of the gut early in the infection process. Manipulation of the insect midgut homeostasis by the mammalian parasite coat proteins is a novel function and indicates that VSG serves a dual role in trypanosome biology-that of facilitating transmission through its mammalian host and insect vector. We detail critical steps in the course of trypanosome infection establishment that can serve as novel targets to reduce the tsetse's vector competence and disease transmission.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1600304113DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4922192PMC
June 2016

TonB-dependent heme iron acquisition in the tsetse fly symbiont Sodalis glossinidius.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2015 Apr 13;81(8):2900-9. Epub 2015 Feb 13.

Department of Biology, University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Sodalis glossinidius is an intra- and extracellular symbiont of the tsetse fly (Glossina sp.), which feeds exclusively on vertebrate blood. S. glossinidius resides in a wide variety of tsetse tissues and may encounter environments that differ dramatically in iron content. The Sodalis chromosome encodes a putative TonB-dependent outer membrane heme transporter (HemR) and a putative periplasmic/inner membrane ABC heme permease system (HemTUV). Because these gene products mediate iron acquisition processes by other enteric bacteria, we characterized their regulation and physiological role in the Sodalis/tsetse system. Our results show that the hemR and tonB genes are expressed by S. glossinidius in the tsetse fly. Furthermore, transcription of hemR in Sodalis is repressed in a high-iron environment by the iron-responsive transcriptional regulator Fur. Expression of the S. glossinidius hemR and hemTUV genes in an Escherichia coli strain unable to use heme as an iron source stimulated growth in the presence of heme or hemoglobin as the sole iron source. This stimulation was dependent on the presence of either the E. coli or Sodalis tonB gene. Sodalis tonB and hemR mutant strains were defective in their ability to colonize the gut of tsetse flies that lacked endogenous symbionts, while wild-type S. glossinidius proliferated in this same environment. Finally, we show that the Sodalis HemR protein is localized to the bacterial membrane and appears to bind hemin. Collectively, this study provides strong evidence that TonB-dependent, HemR-mediated iron acquisition is important for the maintenance of symbiont homeostasis in the tsetse fly, and it provides evidence for the expression of bacterial high-affinity iron acquisition genes in insect symbionts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.04166-14DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375324PMC
April 2015

Trypanosome Transmission Dynamics in Tsetse.

Curr Opin Insect Sci 2014 Sep;3:43-49

Tsetse flies (Diptera:Glossinidae) are vectors of African trypanosomes. Tsetse undergo viviparous reproductive biology, and depend on their obligate endosymbiont (genus ) for the maintenance of fecundity and immune system development. Trypanosomes establish infections in the midgut and salivary glands of the fly. Tsetse's resistance to trypanosome infection increases as a function of age. Among the factors that mediate resistance to parasites are antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) produced by the Immune deficiency (Imd) signaling pathway, peptidoglycan recognition protein (PGRP) LB, tsetse-EP protein and the integrity of the midgut peritrophic matrix (PM) barrier. The presence of obligate during larval development is essential for adult immune system maturation and PM development. Thus, prominently influences the vector competency of it's tsetse host.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cois.2014.07.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286356PMC
September 2014

Vitamin B6 generated by obligate symbionts is critical for maintaining proline homeostasis and fecundity in tsetse flies.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2014 Sep 18;80(18):5844-53. Epub 2014 Jul 18.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

The viviparous tsetse fly utilizes proline as a hemolymph-borne energy source. In tsetse, biosynthesis of proline from alanine involves the enzyme alanine-glyoxylate aminotransferase (AGAT), which requires pyridoxal phosphate (vitamin B6) as a cofactor. This vitamin can be synthesized by tsetse's obligate symbiont, Wigglesworthia glossinidia. In this study, we examined the role of Wigglesworthia-produced vitamin B6 for maintenance of proline homeostasis, specifically during the energetically expensive lactation period of the tsetse's reproductive cycle. We found that expression of agat, as well as genes involved in vitamin B6 metabolism in both host and symbiont, increases in lactating flies. Removal of symbionts via antibiotic treatment of flies (aposymbiotic) led to hypoprolinemia, reduced levels of vitamin B6 in lactating females, and decreased fecundity. Proline homeostasis and fecundity recovered partially when aposymbiotic tsetse were fed a diet supplemented with either yeast or Wigglesworthia extracts. RNA interference-mediated knockdown of agat in wild-type flies reduced hemolymph proline levels to that of aposymbiotic females. Aposymbiotic flies treated with agat short interfering RNA (siRNA) remained hypoprolinemic even upon dietary supplementation with microbial extracts or B vitamins. Flies infected with parasitic African trypanosomes display lower hemolymph proline levels, suggesting that the reduced fecundity observed in parasitized flies could result from parasite interference with proline homeostasis. This interference could be manifested by competition between tsetse and trypanosomes for vitamins, proline, or other factors involved in their synthesis. Collectively, these results indicate that the presence of Wigglesworthia in tsetse is critical for the maintenance of proline homeostasis through vitamin B6 production.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01150-14DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4178588PMC
September 2014

The peritrophic matrix mediates differential infection outcomes in the tsetse fly gut following challenge with commensal, pathogenic, and parasitic microbes.

J Immunol 2014 Jul 9;193(2):773-82. Epub 2014 Jun 9.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT 06520.

The insect gut is lined by a protective, chitinous peritrophic matrix (PM) that separates immunoreactive epithelial cells from microbes present within the luminal contents. Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) imbibe vertebrate blood exclusively and can be exposed to foreign microorganisms during the feeding process. We used RNA interference-based reverse genetics to inhibit the production of a structurally robust PM and then observed how this procedure impacted infection outcomes after per os challenge with exogenous bacteria (Enterobacter sp. and Serratia marcescens strain Db11) and parasitic African trypanosomes. Enterobacter and Serratia proliferation was impeded in tsetse that lacked an intact PM because these flies expressed the antimicrobial peptide gene, attacin, earlier in the infection process than did their counterparts that housed a fully developed PM. After challenge with trypanosomes, attacin expression was latent in tsetse that lacked an intact PM, and these flies were thus highly susceptible to parasite infection. Our results suggest that immunodeficiency signaling pathway effectors, as opposed to reactive oxygen intermediates, serve as the first line of defense in tsetse's gut after the ingestion of exogenous microorganisms. Furthermore, tsetse's PM is not a physical impediment to infection establishment, but instead serves as a barrier that regulates the fly's ability to immunologically detect and respond to the presence of these microbes. Collectively, our findings indicate that effective insect antimicrobial responses depend largely upon the coordination of multiple host and microbe-specific developmental factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1400163DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107339PMC
July 2014

Analysis of multiple tsetse fly populations in Uganda reveals limited diversity and species-specific gut microbiota.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2014 Jul 9;80(14):4301-12. Epub 2014 May 9.

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

The invertebrate microbiome contributes to multiple aspects of host physiology, including nutrient supplementation and immune maturation processes. We identified and compared gut microbial abundance and diversity in natural tsetse flies from Uganda using five genetically distinct populations of Glossina fuscipes fuscipes and multiple tsetse species (Glossina morsitans morsitans, G. f. fuscipes, and Glossina pallidipes) that occur in sympatry in one location. We used multiple approaches, including deep sequencing of the V4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene, 16S rRNA gene clone libraries, and bacterium-specific quantitative PCR (qPCR), to investigate the levels and patterns of gut microbial diversity from a total of 151 individuals. Our results show extremely limited diversity in field flies of different tsetse species. The obligate endosymbiont Wigglesworthia dominated all samples (>99%), but we also observed wide prevalence of low-density Sodalis (tsetse's commensal endosymbiont) infections (<0.05%). There were also several individuals (22%) with high Sodalis density, which also carried coinfections with Serratia. Albeit in low density, we noted differences in microbiota composition among the genetically distinct G. f. fuscipes flies and between different sympatric species. Interestingly, Wigglesworthia density varied in different species (10(4) to 10(6) normalized genomes), with G. f. fuscipes having the highest levels. We describe the factors that may be responsible for the reduced diversity of tsetse's gut microbiota compared to those of other insects. Additionally, we discuss the implications of Wigglesworthia and Sodalis density variations as they relate to trypanosome transmission dynamics and vector competence variations associated with different tsetse species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00079-14DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4068677PMC
July 2014

Tsetse fly microbiota: form and function.

Front Cell Infect Microbiol 2013 29;3:69. Epub 2013 Oct 29.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health New Haven, CT, USA.

Tsetse flies are the primary vectors of African trypanosomes, which cause Human and Animal African trypanosomiasis in 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These flies have also established symbiotic associations with bacterial and viral microorganisms. Laboratory-reared tsetse flies harbor up to four vertically transmitted organisms-obligate Wigglesworthia, commensal Sodalis, parasitic Wolbachia and Salivary Gland Hypertrophy Virus (SGHV). Field-captured tsetse can harbor these symbionts as well as environmentally acquired commensal bacteria. This microbial community influences several aspects of tsetse's physiology, including nutrition, fecundity and vector competence. This review provides a detailed description of tsetse's microbiome, and describes the physiology underlying host-microbe, and microbe-microbe, interactions that occur in this fly.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2013.00069DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3810596PMC
April 2014

Trypanosome infection establishment in the tsetse fly gut is influenced by microbiome-regulated host immune barriers.

PLoS Pathog 2013 18;9(4):e1003318. Epub 2013 Apr 18.

Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.

Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) vector pathogenic African trypanosomes, which cause sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in domesticated animals. Additionally, tsetse harbors 3 maternally transmitted endosymbiotic bacteria that modulate their host's physiology. Tsetse is highly resistant to infection with trypanosomes, and this phenotype depends on multiple physiological factors at the time of challenge. These factors include host age, density of maternally-derived trypanolytic effector molecules present in the gut, and symbiont status during development. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms that result in tsetse's resistance to trypanosomes. We found that following parasite challenge, young susceptible tsetse present a highly attenuated immune response. In contrast, mature refractory flies express higher levels of genes associated with humoral (attacin and pgrp-lb) and epithelial (inducible nitric oxide synthase and dual oxidase) immunity. Additionally, we discovered that tsetse must harbor its endogenous microbiome during intrauterine larval development in order to present a parasite refractory phenotype during adulthood. Interestingly, mature aposymbiotic flies (Gmm(Apo)) present a strong immune response earlier in the infection process than do WT flies that harbor symbiotic bacteria throughout their entire lifecycle. However, this early response fails to confer significant resistance to trypanosomes. Gmm(Apo) adults present a structurally compromised peritrophic matrix (PM), which lines the fly midgut and serves as a physical barrier that separates luminal contents from immune responsive epithelial cells. We propose that the early immune response we observe in Gmm(Apo) flies following parasite challenge results from the premature exposure of gut epithelia to parasite-derived immunogens in the absence of a robust PM. Thus, tsetse's PM appears to regulate the timing of host immune induction following parasite challenge. Our results document a novel finding, which is the existence of a positive correlation between tsetse's larval microbiome and the integrity of the emerging adult PM gut immune barrier.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1003318DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3630092PMC
January 2014

Characterization of the achromobactin iron acquisition operon in Sodalis glossinidius.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2013 May 22;79(9):2872-81. Epub 2013 Feb 22.

Department of Biology, University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia, USA.

Sodalis glossinidius is a facultative, extra- and intracellular symbiont found in most tissues of the tsetse fly (Glossinia sp.). Sodalis has a putative achromobactin siderophore iron acquisition system on the pSG1 plasmid. Reverse transcription (RT)-PCR analysis revealed that the achromobactin operon is transcribed as a single polycistronic molecule and is expressed when Sodalis is within the tsetse fly. Expression of the achromobactin operon was repressed under iron-replete conditions; in a mutant that lacks the iron-responsive transcriptional repressor protein Fur, expression was aberrantly derepressed under these iron-replete conditions, indicating that the Fur protein repressed achromobactin gene expression when iron was plentiful. A putative Fur binding site within the Sodalis achromobactin promoter bound Fur in Escherichia coli Fur titration assays. Wild-type Sodalis produced detectable siderophore in vitro, but a mutation in the putative achromobactin biosynthesis gene acsD eliminated detectable siderophore production in Sodalis. Reduced growth of the siderophore synthesis mutant was reconstituted by addition of exogenous achromobactin, suggesting the strain retains a functional siderophore transport system; however, reduced growth of a Sodalis ferric-siderophore outer membrane receptor mutant with a mutation in acr was not reconstituted by exogenous siderophore due to its defective transporter. The Sodalis siderophore synthesis mutant showed reduced growth in tsetse that lacked endogenous symbionts (aposymbiotic) when the flies were inoculated with Sodalis intrathoracically, but not when inoculated per os. Our findings suggest that Sodalis siderophores play a role in iron acquisition in certain tsetse fly tissues and provide evidence for the regulation of iron acquisition mechanisms in insect symbionts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.03959-12DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3623160PMC
May 2013
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