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Comparative transcriptional analysis identifies genes associated with the attenuation of Theileria parva infected cells after long-term in vitro culture

Published: 2024


  • Elisabeth M. D. L. van der Heijden

  • Lucas Lefevre

  • Anton Gossner

  • Thomas Tzelos

  • Timothy K. Connelley

  • Musa A. Hassan

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Scientific Reports, 14, 8796


Autologous administration of attenuated Theileria parva-infected cells induces immunity to T. parva in cattle. The mechanism of attenuation, however, is largely unknown. Here, we used RNA sequencing of pathogenic and attenuated T. parva-infected T-cells to elucidate the transcriptional changes underpinning attenuation. We observed differential expression of several host genes, including TRAIL, PD-1, TGF-β and granzymes that are known to regulate inflammation and proliferation of infected cells. Importantly, many genes linked with the attenuation of the related T. annulata-infected cells were not dysregulated in this study. Furthermore, known T. parva antigens were not dysregulated in attenuated relative to pathogenic cells, indicating that attenuation is not due to enhanced immunogenicity. Overall this study suggests that attenuation is driven by a decrease in proliferation and restoration of the inflammatory profile of T. parva-infected cells. Additionally, it provides a foundation for future mechanistic studies of the attenuation phenotype in Theileria-infected cells.

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