Author(s): Radke JR, Behnke MS, Mackey AJ, Radke JB, Roos DS,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Toxoplasma gondii gives rise to toxoplasmosis, among the most prevalent parasitic diseases of animals and man. Transformation of the tachzyoite stage into the latent bradyzoite-cyst form underlies chronic disease and leads to a lifetime risk of recrudescence in individuals whose immune system becomes compromised. Given the importance of tissue cyst formation, there has been intensive focus on the development of methods to study bradyzoite differentiation, although the molecular basis for the developmental switch is still largely unknown. RESULTS: We have used serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) to define the Toxoplasma gondii transcriptome of the intermediate-host life cycle that leads to the formation of the bradyzoite/tissue cyst. A broad view of gene expression is provided by >4-fold coverage from nine distinct libraries (approximately 300,000 SAGE tags) representing key developmental transitions in primary parasite populations and in laboratory strains representing the three canonical genotypes. SAGE tags, and their corresponding mRNAs, were analyzed with respect to abundance, uniqueness, and antisense/sense polarity and chromosome distribution and developmental specificity. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that phenotypic transitions during parasite development were marked by unique stage-specific mRNAs that accounted for 18\% of the total SAGE tags and varied from 1-5\% of the tags in each developmental stage. We have also found that Toxoplasma mRNA pools have a unique parasite-specific composition with 1 in 5 transcripts encoding Apicomplexa-specific genes functioning in parasite invasion and transmission. Developmentally co-regulated genes were dispersed across all Toxoplasma chromosomes, as were tags representing each abundance class, and a variety of biochemical pathways indicating that trans-acting mechanisms likely control gene expression in this parasite. We observed distinct similarities in the specificity and expression levels of mRNAs in primary populations (Day-6 post-sporozoite infection) that occur prior to the onset of bradyzoite development that were uniquely shared with the virulent Type I-RH laboratory strain suggesting that development of RH may be arrested. By contrast, strains from Type II-Me49B7 and Type III-VEGmsj contain SAGE tags corresponding to bradyzoite genes, which suggests that priming of developmental expression likely plays a role in the greater capacity of these strains to complete bradyzoite development.
This article was published in BMC Biol
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism