Transcriptional and genomic parallels between the monoxenous parasite Herpetomonas muscarum and Leishmania


Trypanosomatid parasites are causative agents of important human and animal diseases such as sleeping sickness and leishmaniasis. Most trypanosomatids are transmitted to their mammalian hosts by insects, often belonging to Diptera (or true flies). These are called dixenous trypanosomatids since they infect two different hosts, in contrast to those that infect just insects (monoxenous). However, it is still unclear whether dixenous and monoxenous trypanosomatids interact similarly with their insect host, as fly-monoxenous trypanosomatid interaction systems are rarely reported and under-studied-despite being common in nature. Here we present the genome of monoxenous trypanosomatid Herpetomonas muscarum and discuss its transcriptome during in vitro culture and during infection of its natural insect host Drosophila melanogaster. The H. muscarum genome is broadly syntenic with that of human parasite Leishmania major. We also found strong similarities between the H. muscarum transcriptome during fruit fly infection, and those of Leishmania during sand fly infections. Overall this suggests Drosophila-Herpetomonas is a suitable model for less accessible insect-trypanosomatid host-parasite systems such as sand fly-Leishmania.

In PLoS Genetics 15:e1008452
James Cotton
James Cotton
Senior Staff Scientist

My research interests are in the genomics, and particularly population genomics of parasites, particularly those that cause neglected tropical diseases