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Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.7554/ELIFE.62800

Mapping immune variation and var gene switching in naïve hosts infected with Plasmodium falciparum

02 Mar 2021-eLife (eLife Sciences Publications Limited)-Vol. 10
Abstract: Falciparum malaria is clinically heterogeneous and the relative contribution of parasite and host in shaping disease severity remains unclear. We explored the interaction between inflammation and parasite variant surface antigen (VSA) expression, asking whether this relationship underpins the variation observed in controlled human malaria infection (CHMI). We uncovered marked heterogeneity in the host response to blood challenge; some volunteers remained quiescent, others triggered interferon-stimulated inflammation and some showed transcriptional evidence of myeloid cell suppression. Significantly, only inflammatory volunteers experienced hallmark symptoms of malaria. When we tracked temporal changes in parasite VSA expression to ask whether variants associated with severe disease rapidly expand in naive hosts, we found no transcriptional evidence to support this hypothesis. These data indicate that parasite variants that dominate severe malaria do not have an intrinsic growth or survival advantage; instead, they presumably rely upon infection-induced changes in their within-host environment for selection.

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Topics: Plasmodium falciparum (56%), Malaria (52%)

5 results found

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/S41598-021-98024-6
30 Sep 2021-Scientific Reports
Abstract: Plasmodium knowlesi, a model malaria parasite, is responsible for a significant portion of zoonotic malaria cases in Southeast Asia and must be controlled to avoid disease severity and fatalities. However, little is known about the host-parasite interactions and molecular mechanisms in play during the course of P. knowlesi malaria infections, which also may be relevant across Plasmodium species. Here we contrast P. knowlesi sporozoite-initiated infections in Macaca mulatta and Macaca fascicularis using whole blood RNA-sequencing and transcriptomic analysis. These macaque hosts are evolutionarily close, yet malaria-naive M. mulatta will succumb to blood-stage infection without treatment, whereas malaria-naive M. fascicularis controls parasitemia without treatment. This comparative analysis reveals transcriptomic differences as early as the liver phase of infection, in the form of signaling pathways that are activated in M. fascicularis, but not M. mulatta. Additionally, while most immune responses are initially similar during the acute stage of the blood infection, significant differences arise subsequently. The observed differences point to prolonged inflammation and anti-inflammatory effects of IL10 in M. mulatta, while M. fascicularis undergoes a transcriptional makeover towards cell proliferation, consistent with its recovery. Together, these findings suggest that timely detection of P. knowlesi in M. fascicularis, coupled with control of inflammation while initiating the replenishment of key cell populations, helps contain the infection. Overall, this study points to specific genes and pathways that could be investigated as a basis for new drug targets that support recovery from acute malaria.

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Topics: Plasmodium knowlesi (61%), Parasitemia (51%)

4 Citations

Open accessPosted ContentDOI: 10.1101/2021.08.19.21262298
24 Aug 2021-medRxiv
Abstract: Immunity to severe malaria is acquired quickly, operates independently of pathogen load and represents a highly effective form of disease tolerance. The mechanism that underpins tolerance in human malaria remains unknown. We developed a re-challenge model of falciparum malaria in which healthy naive adult volunteers were infected three times over a 12-month period to track the development of disease tolerance in real-time. We found that parasitaemia triggered a hardwired emergency myeloid response that led to systemic inflammation, pyrexia and hallmark symptoms of clinical malaria across the first three infections of life. In contrast, CD4+ T cell activation was quickly modified to reduce the number and diversity of effector cells upon re-challenge. Crucially, this did not silence critical helper T cell functions but instead prevented the generation of cytotoxic effectors associated with autoinflammatory disease. Tolerised hosts were thus able to prevent collateral tissue damage and injury. Host control of T cell activation can therefore be established after a single infection and in the absence of anti-parasite immunity. And furthermore, this rapid host adaptation can protect vital organs to minimise the harm caused by systemic inflammation and sequestration.

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Topics: T cell (54%), Cytotoxic T cell (53%), Immunity (52%) ... show more

Open accessPosted ContentDOI: 10.1101/2021.07.23.21259839
24 Jul 2021-medRxiv
Abstract: Controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) provides a highly informative means to investigate host-pathogen interactions and enable in vivo proof-of-concept efficacy testing of new drugs and vaccines. However, unlike Plasmodium falciparum, well-characterized P. vivax parasites that are safe and suitable for use in modern CHMI models are limited. Here, two healthy malaria-naive UK adults with universal donor blood group were safely infected with a clone of P. vivax from Thailand by mosquito-bite CHMI. Parasitemia developed in both volunteers and, prior to treatment, each volunteer donated blood to produce a cryopreserved stabilate of infected red blood cells. Following stringent safety screening, the parasite stabilate from one of these donors (“PvW1”) was thawed and used to inoculate six healthy malaria-naive UK adults by blood-stage CHMI, at three different dilutions. Parasitemia developed in all volunteers, who were then successfully drug treated. PvW1 parasite DNA was isolated and sequenced to produce a high quality genome assembly by using a hybrid assembly method. We analysed leading vaccine candidate antigens and multigene families, including the Vivax interspersed repeat (VIR) genes of which we identified 1145 in the PvW1 genome. Our genomic analysis will guide future assessment of candidate vaccines and drugs, as well as experimental medicine studies.

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Topics: Plasmodium vivax (61%), Parasitemia (56%), Plasmodium falciparum (53%) ... show more

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1128/MBIO.01636-21
31 Aug 2021-Mbio
Abstract: Clonally variant genes (CVGs) play fundamental roles in the adaptation of Plasmodium falciparum to fluctuating conditions of the human host. However, their expression patterns under the natural conditions of the blood circulation have been characterized in detail for only a few specific gene families. Here, we provide a detailed characterization of the complete P. falciparum transcriptome across the full intraerythrocytic development cycle (IDC) at the onset of a blood infection in malaria-naive human volunteers. We found that the vast majority of transcriptional differences between parasites obtained from the volunteers and the parental parasite line maintained in culture occurred in CVGs. In particular, we observed a major increase in the transcript levels of most genes of the pfmc-2tm and gbp families and of specific genes of other families, such as phist, hyp10, rif, or stevor, in addition to previously reported changes in var and clag3 gene expression. Increased transcript levels of individual pfmc-2tm, rif, and stevor genes involved activation in small subsets of parasites. Large transcriptional differences correlated with changes in the distribution of heterochromatin, confirming their epigenetic nature. Furthermore, the similar expression of several CVGs between parasites collected at different time points along the blood infection suggests that the epigenetic memory for multiple CVG families is lost during transmission stages, resulting in a reset of their transcriptional state. Finally, the CVG expression patterns observed in a volunteer likely infected by a single sporozoite suggest that new epigenetic patterns are established during liver stages. IMPORTANCE The ability of malaria parasites to adapt to changes in the human blood environment, where they produce long-term infection associated with clinical symptoms, is fundamental for their survival. CVGs, regulated at the epigenetic level, play a major role in this adaptive process, as changes in the expression of these genes result in alterations in the antigenic and functional properties of the parasites. However, how these genes are expressed under the natural conditions of the human circulation and how their expression is affected by passage through transmission stages are not well understood. Here, we provide a comprehensive characterization of the expression patterns of these genes at the onset of human blood infections, which reveals major differences with in vitro-cultured parasites. We also show that, during transmission stages, the previous expression patterns for many CVG families are lost, and new patterns are established.

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Topics: Gene family (51%), Epigenetics (51%), Gene (50%) ... show more

Open accessPosted ContentDOI: 10.1101/2021.09.02.458540
03 Sep 2021-bioRxiv
Abstract: Acute febrile illnesses are still a major cause of mortality and morbidity globally, particularly in low to middle income countries. The aim of this study was to determine any possible metabolic commonalities of patients infected with disparate pathogens that cause fever. Three liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) datasets investigating the metabolic effects of malaria, leishmaniasis and Zika virus infection were used. The retention time (RT) drift between the datasets was determined using landmarks obtained from the standard reference mixtures generally used in the quality control of the LC-MS experiments. We used fitted Gaussian Process models (GPs) to perform a high level correction of the RT drift between the experiments, followed by standard peakset alignment between the samples with corrected RTs of the three LC-MS datasets. Statistical analysis, annotation and pathway analysis of the integrated peaksets were subsequently performed. Metabolic dysregulation patterns common across the datasets were identified, with kynurenine pathway being the most affected pathway between all three fever-associated datasets.

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106 results found

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1186/S13059-014-0550-8
05 Dec 2014-Genome Biology
Abstract: In comparative high-throughput sequencing assays, a fundamental task is the analysis of count data, such as read counts per gene in RNA-seq, for evidence of systematic changes across experimental conditions. Small replicate numbers, discreteness, large dynamic range and the presence of outliers require a suitable statistical approach. We present DESeq2, a method for differential analysis of count data, using shrinkage estimation for dispersions and fold changes to improve stability and interpretability of estimates. This enables a more quantitative analysis focused on the strength rather than the mere presence of differential expression. The DESeq2 package is available at .

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Topics: MRNA Sequencing (54%), Integrator complex (51%), Count data (50%) ... show more

29,675 Citations

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1093/BIOINFORMATICS/BTP616
01 Jan 2010-Bioinformatics
Abstract: Summary: It is expected that emerging digital gene expression (DGE) technologies will overtake microarray technologies in the near future for many functional genomics applications. One of the fundamental data analysis tasks, especially for gene expression studies, involves determining whether there is evidence that counts for a transcript or exon are significantly different across experimental conditions. edgeR is a Bioconductor software package for examining differential expression of replicated count data. An overdispersed Poisson model is used to account for both biological and technical variability. Empirical Bayes methods are used to moderate the degree of overdispersion across transcripts, improving the reliability of inference. The methodology can be used even with the most minimal levels of replication, provided at least one phenotype or experimental condition is replicated. The software may have other applications beyond sequencing data, such as proteome peptide count data. Availability: The package is freely available under the LGPL licence from the Bioconductor web site (

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Topics: Bioconductor (64%)

21,575 Citations

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1093/BIOINFORMATICS/BTQ033
Aaron R. Quinlan1, Ira M. Hall1Institutions (1)
15 Mar 2010-Bioinformatics
Abstract: Motivation: Testing for correlations between different sets of genomic features is a fundamental task in genomics research. However, searching for overlaps between features with existing webbased methods is complicated by the massive datasets that are routinely produced with current sequencing technologies. Fast and flexible tools are therefore required to ask complex questions of these data in an efficient manner. Results: This article introduces a new software suite for the comparison, manipulation and annotation of genomic features in Browser Extensible Data (BED) and General Feature Format (GFF) format. BEDTools also supports the comparison of sequence alignments in BAM format to both BED and GFF features. The tools are extremely efficient and allow the user to compare large datasets (e.g. next-generation sequencing data) with both public and custom genome annotation tracks. BEDTools can be combined with one another as well as with standard UNIX commands, thus facilitating routine genomics tasks as well as pipelines that can quickly answer intricate questions of large genomic datasets. Availability and implementation: BEDTools was written in C++. Source code and a comprehensive user manual are freely available at

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Topics: Software suite (52%), Source code (50%)

14,088 Citations

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/NMETH.3317
01 Apr 2015-Nature Methods
Abstract: HISAT (hierarchical indexing for spliced alignment of transcripts) is a highly efficient system for aligning reads from RNA sequencing experiments. HISAT uses an indexing scheme based on the Burrows-Wheeler transform and the Ferragina-Manzini (FM) index, employing two types of indexes for alignment: a whole-genome FM index to anchor each alignment and numerous local FM indexes for very rapid extensions of these alignments. HISAT's hierarchical index for the human genome contains 48,000 local FM indexes, each representing a genomic region of ∼64,000 bp. Tests on real and simulated data sets showed that HISAT is the fastest system currently available, with equal or better accuracy than any other method. Despite its large number of indexes, HISAT requires only 4.3 gigabytes of memory. HISAT supports genomes of any size, including those larger than 4 billion bases.

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8,141 Citations

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/NBT.3519
Abstract: We present kallisto, an RNA-seq quantification program that is two orders of magnitude faster than previous approaches and achieves similar accuracy. Kallisto pseudoaligns reads to a reference, producing a list of transcripts that are compatible with each read while avoiding alignment of individual bases. We use kallisto to analyze 30 million unaligned paired-end RNA-seq reads in <10 min on a standard laptop computer. This removes a major computational bottleneck in RNA-seq analysis.

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4,396 Citations

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