Type X Toxoplasma gondii in a wild mussel and terrestrial carnivores from coastal California: new linkages between terrestrial mammals, runoff and toxoplasmosis of sea otters.

California Department of Fish and Game, Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States.
International Journal for Parasitology (Impact Factor: 3.4). 03/2008; 38(11):1319-28. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2008.02.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Sea otters in California are commonly infected with Toxoplasma gondii. A unique Type X strain is responsible for 72% of otter infections, but its prevalence in terrestrial animals and marine invertebrates inhabiting the same area was unknown. Between 2000 and 2005, 45 terrestrial carnivores (lions, bobcats, domestic cats and foxes) and 1396 invertebrates (mussels, clams and worms) were screened for T. gondii using PCR and DNA sequencing to determine the phylogeographic distribution of T. gondii archetypal I, II, III and Type X genotypes. Marine bivalves have been shown to concentrate T. gondii oocysts in the laboratory, but a comprehensive survey of wild invertebrates has not been reported. A California mussel from an estuary draining into Monterey Bay was confirmed positive for Type X T. gondii by multilocus PCR and DNA sequencing at the B1 and SAG1 loci. This mussel was collected from nearshore marine waters just after the first significant rainfall event in the fall of 2002. Of 45 carnivores tested at the B1, SAG1, and GRA6 typing loci, 15 had PCR-confirmed T. gondii infection; 11 possessed alleles consistent with infection by archetypal Type I, II or III strains and 4 possessed alleles consistent with Type X T. gondii infection. No non-canonical alleles were identified. The four T. gondii strains with Type X alleles were identified from two mountain lions, a bobcat and a fox residing in coastal watersheds adjacent to sea otter habitat near Monterey Bay and Estero Bay. Confirmation of Type X T. gondii in coastal-dwelling felids, canids, a marine bivalve and nearshore-dwelling sea otters supports the hypotheses that feline faecal contamination is flowing from land to sea through surface runoff, and that otters can be infected with T. gondii via consumption of filter-feeding marine invertebrates.


Available from: Andrea E Packham, Jun 03, 2015
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    Environmental Science and Pollution Research 03/2015; · 2.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Water quality is a public health concern that calls for relevant biomonitoring programs. Molecular tools such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are progressively becoming more sensitive and more specific than conventional techniques to detect pathogens in environmental samples such as water and organisms. The zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) has already been demonstrated to accumulate and concentrate various human waterborne pathogens. In this study, first, a spiking experiment to evaluate detection levels of Toxoplasma gondii DNA in zebra mussel organs using real-time PCR was conducted. Overall, lower DNA levels in the hemolymph, digestive gland, and remaining tissues (gonad and foot) were detected compared to mantle, muscle, and gills. Second, an in vivo experiment with 1000 T. gondii oocysts per mussel and per day for 21 consecutive days, followed by 14 days of depuration time in protozoa-free water was performed. T. gondii DNA was detected in all organs, but greatest concentrations were observed in hemolymph and mantle tissues compared to the others organs at the end of the depuration period. These results suggest that (i) the zebra mussel is a potential new tool for measuring T. gondii concentrations and (ii) real-time PCR is a suitable method for pathogen detection in complex matrices such as tissues.
    Environmental Science and Pollution Research 03/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11356-015-4296-y · 2.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Parasites of phylum Apicomplexa cause devastating diseases on a global scale. Toxoplasma gondii, the etiological agent of toxoplasmosis, and Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent agent of human malaria, have the most substantial effects on human health and are the most widely studied. The success of these parasites is due in part to a sophisticated molecular arsenal that supports a variety of novel biological processes including a unique form of host cell invasion. Accessing the protective environment of the host cell is paramount to parasite survival and is mediated through an active invasion process: the parasite propels itself through a circumferential ring known as the moving junction (MJ) formed between its apical tip and the host cell membrane. The MJ ring is comprised of a parasite surface protein (AMA1) that engages a protein secreted by the parasite into the host cell and presented on the host cell surface (RON2). Thus, through an intriguing mechanism the parasite provides both receptor and ligand to enable host cell invasion. Prior to the studies described herein, the characterization of the AMA1-RON2 association was limited to low-resolution experiments that provided little insight into the functional and architectural details of this crucial binary complex. Towards elucidating the mechanism of AMA1-RON2 dependent invasion, I first structurally characterized T. gondii AMA1 bound to the corresponding binding region of RON2; analysis of the AMA1-RON2 interface along with biophysical data revealed an intimate association likely capable of withstanding the shearing forces generated as the parasite dives through the constricted MJ ring. To investigate the role of the AMA1-RON2 complex across genera, species and life-cycle stages, I next characterized the AMA1-RON2 complex from a distantly related genus within Apicomplexa (Plasmodium) and from a divergent pairing within T. gondii. By combining structural, biophysical and biological data, I was able to generate a detailed model describing the role of AMA1 and RON2 in MJ dependent invasion, which is currently supporting efforts to develop novel vaccines and cross-reactive small molecule therapeutics.
    08/2014, Degree: PhD Biochemistry, Supervisor: Dr. Martin J. Boulanger

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