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Comparative transcriptomics and host-specific parasite gene expression profiles inform on drivers of proliferative kidney disease

Published: 2021


  • Marc Faber

  • Sophie Shaw

  • Sohye Yoon

  • Eduardo de Paiva Alves

  • Bei Wang

  • Zhitao Qi

  • Beth Okamura

  • Hanna Hartikainen

  • Christopher J. Secombes

  • Jason W. Holland


The myxozoan parasite, Tetracapsuloidesbryosalmonae has a two-host life cycle alternating between freshwater bryozoans and salmonid fish. Infected fish can develop Proliferative Kidney Disease, characterised by a gross lymphoid-driven kidney pathology in wild and farmed salmonids. To facilitate an in-depth understanding of T.bryosalmonae-host interactions, we have used a two-host parasite transcriptome sequencing approach in generating two parasite transcriptome assemblies; the first derived from parasite spore sacs isolated from infected bryozoans and the second from infected fish kidney tissues. This approach was adopted to minimize host contamination in the absence of a complete T.bryosalmonae genome. Parasite contigs common to both infected hosts (the intersect transcriptome; 7362 contigs) were typically AT-rich (60–75% AT). 5432 contigs within the intersect were annotated. 1930 unannotated contigs encoded for unknown transcripts. We have focused on transcripts encoding proteins involved in; nutrient acquisition, host–parasite interactions, development, cell-to-cell communication and proteins of unknown function, establishing their potential importance in each host by RT-qPCR. Host-specific expression profiles were evident, particularly in transcripts encoding proteases and proteins involved in lipid metabolism, cell adhesion, and development. We confirm for the first time the presence of homeobox proteins and a frizzled homologue in myxozoan parasites. The novel insights into myxozoan biology that this study reveals will help to focus research in developing future disease control strategies.

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