Proteomic and transcriptomic analysis of the Protozoan Parasite Neospora caninum

Vermont, Sarah J
Proteomic and transcriptomic analysis of the Protozoan Parasite Neospora caninum. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Neospora caninum is an economically significant parasitic protozoan causing the disease neosporosis in cattle and dogs. Although a close relative of the zoonotic apicomplexan Toxoplasma gondii, the two organisms exhibit differing host ranges and infection dynamics. T. gondii is a model organism that has been much studied, and a great deal is known about the genes and proteins involved when it invades a host cell. This thesis explores protein expression in the proliferative and invasive tachyzoite stage of N. caninum, in particular the expression of proteins pertaining to the apical complex of organelles; those responsible for entry and establishment within a host cell. Almost 20 % of the predicted proteome has been identified by this analysis to be expressed in the tachyzoite stage, with approximately 50 % of the predicted repertoire of apical proteins being detected. The discovery of differences between these two parasites’ highly syntenic genomes could lead to a better understanding of the process by which T. gondii is able to cause disease in humans, while N. caninum has not been observed to do so. One finding of the recent genome sequencing and annotation project in N. caninum was that a key T. gondii virulence determinant, rhoptry gene 18 (ROP18) was pseudogenised in N. caninum. This finding was investigated further in this thesis to demonstrate that the pseudogenisation of ROP18 was conserved across a range of N. caninum isolates and that in vitro, N. caninum was not able to subvert the murine interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) immune response using ROP18 in the way that virulent T. gondii tachyzoites do. The tissue-dwelling Coccidia have a multi-stage life cycle which includes a latent tissue cyst-encapsulated stage called the bradyzoite. Tachyzoites convert to this more quiescent form when induced by cellular stress, and are able to remain as such for long periods, even years. At times of weakened host immunity, bradyzoites can recrudesce to produce an active infection, which can cross the placenta in a pregnant animal to infect the foetus. This a major route by which N. caninum infection is maintained within cattle herds, therefore the biology of stage conversion from tachyzoite to bradyzoite and vice-versa is of interest to researchers. An RNA-Seq analysis of cultured tachyzoites and bradyzoites identified a marked reduction in rhoptry gene expression, and differing expression profiles of other invasion-related genes from the micronemes and dense granules. Overall, these data identify proteins released from the apical organelles in N. caninum and give an insight into the different repertoires expressed by the tachyzoite and bradyzoite life stages. Furthermore, a comparison between N. caninum and T. gondii predicted apical proteomes indicates that although most genes are shared in a one-to-one orthologous relationship between the two organisms, there are a small number of differences which may turn out to be important to the biology of the parasite, as in the case of ROP18.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Additional Information: Date: 2012-09 (completed)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Neospora caninum, Apicomplexa, Proteomics, Transcriptomics, parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, protozoan, rhoptry, microneme, dense granule
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2013 11:19
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 01:41
DOI: 10.17638/00011637