Using scRNA-seq to identify transcriptional variation in the malaria parasite ookinete stage

Witmer, K., Dahalan, F. A., Metcalf, T., Talman, A. M., Howick, V. M. and Lawniczak, M. K. N. (2021) Using scRNA-seq to identify transcriptional variation in the malaria parasite ookinete stage. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 11, 604129. (doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2021.604129) (PMID:33732658) (PMCID:PMC7958875)

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Abstract

The crossing of the mosquito midgut epithelium by the malaria parasite motile ookinete form represents the most extreme population bottleneck in the parasite life cycle and is a prime target for transmission blocking strategies. However, we have little understanding of the clonal variation that exists in a population of ookinetes in the vector, partially because the parasites are difficult to access and are found in low numbers. Within a vector, variation may result as a response to specific environmental cues or may exist independent of those cues as a potential bet-hedging strategy. Here we use single-cell RNA-seq to profile transcriptional variation in Plasmodium berghei ookinetes across different vector species, and between and within individual midguts. We then compare our results to low-input transcriptomes from individual Anopheles coluzzii midguts infected with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Although the vast majority of transcriptional changes in ookinetes are driven by development, we have identified candidate genes that may be responding to environmental cues or are clonally variant within a population. Our results illustrate the value of single-cell and low-input technologies in understanding clonal variation of parasite populations.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Cellular and infection microbiology, ookinete, Plasmodium, scRNA-seq, transcriptomics, malaria, Anopheles.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Howick, Dr Virginia
Authors: Witmer, K., Dahalan, F. A., Metcalf, T., Talman, A. M., Howick, V. M., and Lawniczak, M. K. N.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Publisher:Frontiers Media
ISSN:2235-2988
ISSN (Online):2235-2988
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Witmer, Dahalan, Metcalf, Talman, Howick and Lawniczak
First Published:First published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 11: 604129
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
308631Identification of genomic components that predict transmission of the malaria parasite in different vector speciesVirginia HowickWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)220185/Z/20/ZMVLS - Polyomics Facility