910 research outputs found

    Molecular epidemiology of African sleeping sickness

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    Human sleeping sickness in Africa, caused by Trypanosoma brucei spp. raises a number of questions. Despite the widespread distribution of the tsetse vectors and animal trypanosomiasis, human disease is only found in discrete foci which periodically give rise to epidemics followed by periods of endemicity A key to unravelling this puzzle is a detailed knowledge of the aetiological agents responsible for different patterns of disease--knowledge that is difficult to achieve using traditional microscopy. The science of molecular epidemiology has developed a range of tools which have enabled us to accurately identify taxonomic groups at all levels (species, subspecies, populations, strains and isolates). Using these tools, we can now investigate the genetic interactions within and between populations of Trypanosoma brucei and gain an understanding of the distinction between human- and nonhuman-infective subspecies. In this review, we discuss the development of these tools, their advantages and disadvantages and describe how they have been used to understand parasite genetic diversity, the origin of epidemics, the role of reservoir hosts and the population structure. Using the specific case of T.b. rhodesiense in Uganda, we illustrate how molecular epidemiology has enabled us to construct a more detailed understanding of the origins, generation and dynamics of sleeping sickness epidemics

    The best practice for preparation of samples from FTA®cards for diagnosis of blood borne infections using African trypanosomes as a model system

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    Background: Diagnosis of blood borne infectious diseases relies primarily on the detection of the causative agent in the blood sample. Molecular techniques offer sensitive and specific tools for this although considerable difficulties exist when using these approaches in the field environment. In large scale epidemiological studies, FTA®cards are becoming increasingly popular for the rapid collection and archiving of a large number of samples. However, there are some difficulties in the downstream processing of these cards which is essential for the accurate diagnosis of infection. Here we describe recommendations for the best practice approach for sample processing from FTA®cards for the molecular diagnosis of trypanosomiasis using PCR. Results: A comparison of five techniques was made. Detection from directly applied whole blood was less sensitive (35.6%) than whole blood which was subsequently eluted from the cards using Chelex®100 (56.4%). Better apparent sensitivity was achieved when blood was lysed prior to application on the FTA cards (73.3%) although this was not significant. This did not improve with subsequent elution using Chelex®100 (73.3%) and was not significantly different from direct DNA extraction from blood in the field (68.3%). Conclusions: Based on these results, the degree of effort required for each of these techniques and the difficulty of DNA extraction under field conditions, we recommend that blood is transferred onto FTA cards whole followed by elution in Chelex®100 as the best approach

    Detection of high levels of congenital transmission of toxoplasma gondii in natural urban populations of mus domesticus

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    The relative importance of different transmission routes of Toxoplasma gondii has been a matter for debate. This ubiquitous parasite is generally thought to be transmitted by infective oocysts excreted by the definitive host, the cat. Ingestion of undercooked meat has also been considered an important route of transmission in many mammals while congenital transmission has generally been considered relatively rare. Experimental studies demonstrate the ability of T. gondii to be transmitted congenitally, but few studies have investigated the frequency of this transmission route in natural populations. We use PCR amplification of the SAG1 gene to investigate the frequency of congenital transmission in a wild population of mice (Mus domesticus) and show that congenital transmission is occurring in 75% of pregnancies in this population. Furthermore, for infected pregnant mice, transmission occurs to at least one foetus in 100% of cases while variable penetrance of congenital infection is observed. These high levels of congenital transmission in this wild population of mice, taken together with other recent data on congenital transmission in sheep, suggests that this phenomenon might be more widespread than previously thought

    Skin swabs with FTA® cards as a dry storage source for amphibian DNA

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    Amphibians are the most endangered group of vertebrates, and conservation measures increasingly rely on information drawn from genetic markers. The present study explores skin swabs with Whatman FTA® cards as a method to retrieve PCR-amplifiable amphibian DNA. Swabs from ten adult great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) were used to compare FTA® card-based protocols with tissue sampling based on toe clips. PCR success rates were measured for seven microsatellite markers and one mtDNA marker (ND4) after 6 months of sample storage. We demonstrate that the merging of eight FTA® card punches from Qiagen-based DNA extraction always led to successful amplifications in at least one replicate, at an overall PCR success rate of 78%. The newly established protocol has the potential for wide application to future DNA-based amphibian studies

    Significant familial differences in the frequency of abortion and Toxoplasma gondii infection within a flock of Charollais sheep

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    A study was carried out to investigate the frequencies of abortion and congenital Toxoplasma gondii infection within 27 families (765 individuals) of a pedigree Charollais sheep flock maintained on a working farm in Worcestershire, UK, since 1992. Pedigree lambing records were analysed to establish the frequency of abortion for each family. The frequency of congenital infection was determined for each family by PCR analysis of tissue samples taken from newborn lambs. Atotal of 155 lambs were tested for congenital T. gondii infection, which were all born during the study period 2000–2003. Significant differences in the frequency of abortion between sheep families within this flock were observed with frequencies ranging between 0% and 48% (P<0.01). Significantly different infection frequencies with T. gondii were also observed for different families and ranged between 0% and 100% (P<0.01). Although the actual cause of each abortion was not verified, a highly significant positive correlation was found to exist between the frequency of abortion and the frequency of T. gondii infection in the same families (P<0.01). The data presented here raise further questions regarding the significance of congenital transmission of T. gondii within sheep populations, the possible successive vertical transmission of T. gondii within families of sheep, and the potential role of inherited genetic susceptibility to abortion with respect to T. gondii infection. This work invites further study into the epidemiology of ovine toxoplasmosis and may have implications for sheep husbandry methods in the future. Key words: Toxoplasma gondii, ovine, toxoplasmosis, congenital, transmission, pedigree, sheep

    High levels of congenital transmission of toxoplasma gondii in longitudinal and cross-sectional studies on sheep farms provides evidence of vertical transmission in ovine hosts

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    Recent research suggests that vertical transmission may play an important role in sustaining Toxoplasma gondii infection in some species. We report here that congenital transmission occurs at consistently high levels in pedigree Charollais and outbred sheep flocks sampled over a 3-year period. Overall rates of transmission per pregnancy determined by PCR based diagnosis, were consistent over time in a commercial sheep flock (69%) and in sympatric (60%) and allopatric (41%) populations of Charollais sheep. The result of this was that 53·7% of lambs were acquiring an infection prior to birth: 46·4% of live lambs and 90·0% of dead lambs (in agreement with the association made between T. gondii and abortion). No significant differences were observed between lamb sexes. Although we cannot distinguish between congenital transmission occurring due to primary infection at pregnancy or reactivation of chronic infection during pregnancy, our observations of consistently high levels of congenital transmission over successive lambings favour the latter

    Vacuolar ATPase depletion contributes to dysregulation of endocytosis in bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma brucei

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    BACKGROUND Vacuolar H-ATPase (V-ATPase) is a highly conserved protein complex which hydrolyzes ATP and pumps protons to acidify vacuolar vesicles. Beyond its role in pH maintenance, the involvement of V-ATPase in endocytosis is well documented in mammals and plants but is less clear in Trypanosoma brucei. METHODS In this study, the subcellular localization of V-ATPase subunit B (TbVAB) of T. brucei was assessed via in situ N-terminal YFP-tagging and immunofluorescence assays. Transgenic bloodstream forms (BSF) of T. brucei were generated which comprised either a V-ATPase subunit B (TbVAB) conditional knockout or a V-ATPase subunit A (TbVAA) knockdown. Acridine orange and BCECF-AM were employed to assess the roles of V-ATPase in the pH regulation of BSF T. brucei. The endocytic activities of three markers were also characterized by flow cytometry analyses. Furthermore, trypanosomes were counted from trypanolysis treatment groups (either containing 1% or 5% NHS) and endocytosed trypanosome lytic factor (TLF) was also analyzed by an immunoblotting assay. RESULTS TbVAB was found to localize to acidocalcisomes, lysosomes and probably also to endosomes of BSF of T. brucei and was demonstrated to be essential for cell growth. TbVAB depletion neutralized acidic organelles at 24 hours post-tetracycline depletion (hpd), meanwhile the steady state intracellular pH increased from 7.016 ± 0.013 to 7.422 ± 0.058. Trypanosomes with TbVAB depletion at 24 hpd were found to take up more transferrin (2.068 ± 0.277 fold) but less tomato lectin (49.31 ± 22.57%) by endocytosis, while no significant change was detected in dextran uptake. Similar endocytic dysregulated phenotypes were also observed in TbVAA knockdown cells. In addition, TbVAB depleted trypanosomes showed a low uptake of TLF and exhibited less sensitive to lysis in both 1% and 5% NHS treatments. CONCLUSIONS TbVAB is a key component of V-ATPase and was found to play a key function in endocytosis as well as exhibiting different effects in a receptor/cargo dependent manner in BSF of T. brucei. Besides vacuolar alkalinization, the dysregulation of endocytosis in TbVAB depleted T. brucei is considered to contribute to the reduced sensitivity to lysis by normal human serum

    Evidence for high levels of vertical transmission in Toxoplasma gondii

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    Toxoplasma gondii is a highly ubiquitous and prevalent parasite. Despite the cat being the only definitive host, it is found in almost all geographical areas and warm blooded animals. Three routes of transmission are recognised: ingestion of oocysts shed by the cat, carnivory and congenital transmission. In natural populations, it is difficult to establish the relative importance of these routes. This paper reviews recent work in our laboratory which suggests that congenital transmission may be much more important than previously thought. Using PCR detection of the parasite, studies in sheep show that congenital transmission may occur in as many as 66% of pregnancies. Furthermore, in families of sheep on the same farm, exposed to the same sources of oocysts, significant divergent prevalences of Toxoplasma infection and abortion are found between different families. The data suggest that breeding from infected ewes increases the risk of subsequent abortion and infection in lambs. Congenital transmission rates in a natural population of mice were found to be 75%. Interestingly, congenital transmission rates in humans were measured at 19.8%. The results presented in these studies differ from those of other published studies and suggest that vertical transmission may be much more important than previously thought

    The prevalence of Neospora caninum and co-infection with Toxoplasma gondii by PCR analysis in naturally occurring mammal populations

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    Neospora caninum and Toxoplasma gondii are closely related intracellular protozoan parasites associated with bovine and ovine abortion respectively. Little is known about the extent of Neospora/Toxoplasma co-infection in naturally infected populations of animals. Using nested PCR techniques, based on primers from the Nc5 region of N. caninum and SAG1 for T. gondii, the prevalence of N. caninum and its co-infection with T. gondii were investigated in populations of Mus domesticus, Rattus norvegicus and aborted lambs (Ovis aries). A low frequency of infection with N. caninum was detected in the Mus domesticus (3%) and Rattus norvegicus (4·4%) populations. A relatively high frequency of infection with N. caninum was detected in the brains of aborted lambs (18·9%). There was no significant relationship between N. caninum and T. gondii co-infection. Investigation of the tissue distribution of Neospora, in aborted lambs, showed that Neospora could not be detected in tissues other than brain and this was in contrast to Toxoplasma where the parasite could be frequently detected in a range of tissues

    Prevalence and co-infection of Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum in Apodemus sylvaticus in an area relatively free of cats

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    The protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii is prevalent worldwide and can infect a remarkably wide range of hosts despite felids being the only definitive host. As cats play a major role in transmission to secondary mammalian hosts, the interaction between cats and these hosts should be a major factor determining final prevalence in the secondary host. This study investigates the prevalence of T. gondii in a natural population of Apodemus sylvaticus collected from an area with low cat density (<2·5 cats/km2). A surprisingly high prevalence of 40·78% (95% CI: 34·07%–47·79%) was observed despite this. A comparable level of prevalence was observed in a previously published study using the same approaches where a prevalence of 59% (95% CI: 50·13%–67·87%) was observed in a natural population of Mus domesticus from an area with high cat density (>500 cats/km2). Detection of infected foetuses frompregnant dams in both populations suggests that congenital transmission may enable persistence of infection in the absence of cats. The prevalences of the related parasite, Neospora caninum were found to be low in both populations (A. sylvaticus: 3·39% (95% CI: 0·12%–6·66%); M. domesticus: 3·08% (95% CI: 0·11%–6·05%)). These results suggest that cat density may have a lower than expected effect on final prevalence in these ecosystems
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