[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Trypanosoma rangeli is a protozoan that infects a variety of mammalian hosts, including humans. Its main insect vector is Rhodnius prolixus and is found in several Latin American countries. The R. prolixus vector competence depends on the T. rangeli strain and the molecular interactions, as well as the insect's immune responses in the gut and haemocoel. This work focuses on the modulation of the humoral immune responses of the midgut of R. prolixus infected with T. rangeli Macias strain, considering the influence of the parasite on the intestinal microbiota.
The population density of T. rangeli Macias strain was analysed in different R. prolixus midgut compartments in long and short-term experiments. Cultivable and non-cultivable midgut bacteria were investigated by colony forming unit (CFU) assays and by 454 pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, respectively. The modulation of R. prolixus immune responses was studied by analysis of the antimicrobial activity in vitro against different bacteria using turbidimetric tests, the abundance of mRNAs encoding antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) defensin (DefA, DefB, DefC), prolixicin (Prol) and lysozymes (LysA, LysB) by RT-PCR and analysis of the phenoloxidase (PO) activity.
Our results showed that T. rangeli successfully colonized R. prolixus midgut altering the microbiota population and the immune responses as follows: 1 - reduced cultivable midgut bacteria; 2 - decreased the number of sequences of the Enterococcaceae but increased those of the Burkholderiaceae family; the families Nocardiaceae, Enterobacteriaceae and Mycobacteriaceae encountered in control and infected insects remained the same; 3 - enhanced midgut antibacterial activities against Serratia marcescens and Staphylococcus aureus; 4 - down-regulated LysB and Prol mRNA levels; altered DefB, DefC and LysA depending on the infection (short and long-term); 5 - decreased PO activity.
Our findings suggest that T. rangeli Macias strain modulates R. prolixus immune system and modifies the natural microbiota composition.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Parasites & Vectors
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhodnius prolixus not only has served as a model organism for the study of insect physiology, but also is a major vector of Chagas disease, an illness that affects approximately seven million people worldwide. We sequenced the genome of R. prolixus, generated assembled sequences covering 95% of the genome (∼702 Mb), including 15,456 putative protein-coding genes, and completed comprehensive genomic analyses of this obligate blood-feeding insect. Although immune-deficiency (IMD)-mediated immune responses were observed, R. prolixus putatively lacks key components of the IMD pathway, suggesting a reorganization of the canonical immune signaling network. Although both Toll and IMD effectors controlled intestinal microbiota, neither affected Trypanosoma cruzi, the causal agent of Chagas disease, implying the existence of evasion or tolerance mechanisms. R. prolixus has experienced an extensive loss of selenoprotein genes, with its repertoire reduced to only two proteins, one of which is a selenocysteine-based glutathione peroxidase, the first found in insects. The genome contained actively transcribed, horizontally transferred genes from Wolbachia sp., which showed evidence of codon use evolution toward the insect use pattern. Comparative protein analyses revealed many lineage-specific expansions and putative gene absences in R. prolixus, including tandem expansions of genes related to chemoreception, feeding, and digestion that possibly contributed to the evolution of a blood-feeding lifestyle. The genome assembly and these associated analyses provide critical information on the physiology and evolution of this important vector species and should be instrumental for the development of innovative disease control methods.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The recent years advancements in microtomography have increased the achievable resolution and contrast, making this relatively inexpensive and a widely available technology, potentially useful for studies of insect's internal morphology. Phase Contrast X-Ray Synchrotron Microtomography (SR-PhC-μCT) is a non-destructive technique that allows the microanatomical investigations of Rhodnius prolixus, one of the most important insect vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiologic agent of Chagas' disease. In Latin America, vector control is the most useful method to prevent Chagas' disease, and a detailed knowledge of R. prolixus' interior structures is crucial for a better understanding of their function and evolution. Traditionally, in both biological morphology and anatomy, the internal structures of whole organisms or parts of them are accessed by dissecting or histological serial sectioning; so studying the internal structures of R. prolixus' head using SR-PhC-μCT is of great importance in researches on vector control. In this work, volume-rendered SR-PhC-μCT images of the heads of selected R. prolixus were obtained using the new set-up available at the SYRMEP beamline of ELETTRA (Trieste, Italy). In this new set-up, the outcoming beam from the ring is restrained before the monochromator and in a devoted end-station, absorption and phase contrast radiography and tomography set-up are available. The images obtained with polychromatic X-ray beam in phase contrast regimen and 2 μm resolution, showed details and organs of R. prolixus never seen before with SR-PhC-μCT.
No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Radiation Physics and Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Insects possess both cellular and humoral immune responses. The latter makes them capable to recognize and control invading pathogens after synthesis of a variety of small proteins, also known as antimicrobial peptides. Defensins, cysteine-rich cationic peptides with major activity against Gram-positive bacteria, are one ubiquitous class of antimicrobial peptides, widely distributed in different animal and plant taxa. Regarding triatomines in each of the so far analyzed species, various defensin gene isoforms have been identified. In the present study, these genes were sequenced and used as a molecular marker for phylogenetic analysis. Considering the vectors of Chagas disease the authors are reporting for the first time the presence of these genes in Triatoma sordida (Stål, 1859), Rhodnius nasutus (Stål, 1859), and Panstrongylus megistus (Burmeister, 1835). Members of the Triatoma brasiliensis species complex were included into the study to verify the genetic variability within these taxa. Mainly in their mature peptide, the deduced defensin amino acid sequences were highly conserved. In the dendrogram based on defensin encoding nucleotide, sequences the Triatoma Def3/4 genes were separated from the rest. In the dendrogram based on deduced amino acid sequences the Triatoma Def2/3/4 together with Rhodnius DefA/B pre-propeptides were separated from the rest. In the sub-branches of both the DNA and amino acid dendrograms, the genus Triatoma was separated from the genus Rhodnius as well as from P. megistus.
No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Parasitology Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chagas disease is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted by triatomine vectors. The northeastern region of Brazil is endemic for Chagas disease and has the largest diversity of triatomine species. T. cruzi development in its triatomine vector depends on diverse factors, including the composition of bacterial gut microbiota.
We characterized the triatomines captured in the municipality of Russas (Ceará) by sequencing the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene. The composition of the bacterial community in the gut of peridomestic Triatoma brasiliensis and Triatoma pseudomaculata was investigated using culture independent methods based on the amplification of the 16S rRNA gene by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), DNA fragment cloning, Sanger sequencing and 454 pyrosequencing. Additionally, we identified TcI and TcII types of T. cruzi by sequencing amplicons from the gut metagenomic DNA with primers for the mini-exon gene.
Triatomines collected in the peridomestic ecotopes were diagnosed as T. pseudomaculata and T. brasiliensis by comparing their COI sequence with GenBank. The rate of infection by T. cruzi in adult triatomines reached 80% for T. pseudomaculata and 90% for T. brasiliensis. According to the DNA sequences from the DGGE bands, the triatomine gut microbiota was primarily composed of Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria. However, Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes were also detected, although in much lower proportions. Serratia was the main genus, as it was encountered in all samples analyzed by DGGE and 454 pyrosequencing. Members of Corynebacterinae, a suborder of the Actinomycetales, formed the next most important group. The cloning and sequencing of full-length 16S rRNA genes confirmed the presence of Serratia marcescens, Dietzia sp., Gordonia terrae, Corynebacterium stationis and Corynebacterium glutamicum.
The study of the bacterial microbiota in the triatomine gut has gained increased attention because of the possible role it may play in the epidemiology of Chagas disease by competing with T. cruzi. Culture independent methods have shown that the bacterial composition of the microbiota in the guts of peridomestic triatomines is made up by only few bacterial species.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
The triatomine, Rhodnius prolixus, is a major vector of Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease in Latin America. It has a strictly blood-sucking habit in all life stages, ingesting large amounts of blood from vertebrate hosts from which it can acquire pathogenic microorganisms. In this context, the production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in the midgut of the insect is vital to control possible infection, and to maintain the microbiota already present in the digestive tract.
In the present work, we studied the antimicrobial activity of the Rhodnius prolixus midgut in vitro against the Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, respectively. We also analysed the abundance of mRNAs encoding for defensins, prolixicin and lysozymes in the midgut of insects orally infected by these bacteria at 1 and 7 days after feeding.
Our results showed that the anterior midgut contents contain a higher inducible antibacterial activity than those of the posterior midgut. We observed that the main AMP encoding mRNAs in the anterior midgut, 7 days after a blood meal, were for lysozyme A, B, defensin C and prolixicin while in the posterior midgut lysozyme B and prolixicin transcripts predominated.
Our findings suggest that R. prolixus modulates AMP gene expression upon ingestion of bacteria with patterns that are distinct and dependent upon the species of bacteria responsible for infection.
Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Parasites & Vectors
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Except for honey as food, and silk for clothing and pollination of plants, people give little thought to the benefits of insects in their lives. This overview briefly describes significant recent advances in developing insect natural products as potential new medicinal drugs. This is an exciting and rapidly expanding new field since insects are hugely variable and have utilised an enormous range of natural products to survive environmental perturbations for 100s of millions of years. There is thus a treasure chest of untapped resources waiting to be discovered. Insects products, such as silk and honey, have already been utilised for thousands of years, and extracts of insects have been produced for use in Folk Medicine around the world, but only with the development of modern molecular and biochemical techniques has it become feasible to manipulate and bioengineer insect natural products into modern medicines. Utilising knowledge gleaned from Insect Folk Medicines, this review describes modern research into bioengineering honey and venom from bees, silk, cantharidin, antimicrobial peptides, and maggot secretions and anticoagulants from blood-sucking insects into medicines. Problems and solutions encountered in these endeavours are described and indicate that the future is bright for new insect derived pharmaceuticals treatments and medicines.
Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phase Contrast X-Ray Synchroton Microtomography is a non-destructive technique that allows the microanatomical investigations of Rhodnius prolixus, one of the most important insect vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi. In this work complete series of virtual thin sections through the heads of selected Rhodnius prolixus were obtained. The sections of the head were important to compare the difference in use the spatial resolution of 2 μm or 4.5 μm and to see anatomical details that couldn't be seen with other technique. Three different groups of Rhodnius prolixus were used. One group was fed with defibrinated rabbit blood and after 10 days was sacrificed, other group was sacrificed 4 days after feeding and the last group remained unfed. The results show some differences for each kind of groups and for the different resolutions.
No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Journal of Physics Conference Series
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using specific oligonucleotides, 5'- and 3'-RACE and sequencing, two cDNAs encoding serine carboxypeptidases (tbscp-1 and tbscp-2) from the midgut of the blood sucking heteropteran Triatoma brasiliensis were identified. Both cDNAs with an open reading frame of 1389 bp, encode serine carboxypeptidase precursors of 463 amino acid residues, which possess a signal peptide cleavage site after Ala19. Analysis of tbscp-1 and tbscp-2 genomic DNA showed an absence of introns in both sequences and the presence of a further intron-free SCP encoding gene (tbscp-2b). By reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), tbscp-1 and tbscp-2 transcript abundance was found similarly in fifth instar nymphs at different days after feeding (daf), high in the posterior midgut (small intestine), lower in the anterior midgut (stomach) and fat body and almost undetectable in the salivary glands. In the anterior, middle and posterior regions of the small intestine at 5 daf the transcript abundance of both genes was almost identical. Also in adult female and male insects at 5 daf both genes showed the strongest signal in the posterior midgut. Molecular modeling suggested that TBSCP-1 has carboxypeptidase D activity; activities against Hippuryl-Phenylalanine and Hippuryl-Arginine were also located at the posterior midgut, both were induced after blood feeding. Treatment of the posterior midgut extracts with the serine protease inhibitor PMSF strongly reduced carboxypeptidase activity. These findings suggest that triatomines might use serine carboxypeptidases, which are usually found in lysosomes, as digestive enzymes in the posterior midgut lumen, from which TBSCP-1 and TBSCP-2 are possible candidates to fulfill this function.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Journal of insect physiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have used phase-contrast X-ray microtomography (PPC-μCT) to study
the head of the blood-feeding bug, Rhodnius prolixus, which is one of
the most important insect vector of Trypanosoma cruzi, ethiologic agent
of Chagas disease in Latin America. Images reconstructed from
phase-retrieved projections processed by ANKA phase are compared to
those obtained through direct tomographic reconstruction of the
flat-field-corrected transmission radiographs. It should be noted that
the relative locations of the important morphological internal
structures are observable with a precision that is difficult to obtain
without the phase retrieval approach.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Radiation Physics and Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chagas disease kills 2.5 thousand people per year of 15 million persons infected in Latin America. The disease is caused by the protozoan, Trypanosome cruzi, and vectored by triatomine insects, including Panstrongylus megistus, an important vector in Brazil. Medicines treating Chagas disease have unpleasant side effects and may be ineffective, therefore, alternative control techniques are required. Knowledge of the T. cruzi interactions with the triatomine host needs extending and new targets/strategies for control identified. Serine and cysteine peptidases play vital roles in protozoan life cycles including invasion and entry of T. cruzi into host cells. Peptidase inhibitors are, therefore, promising targets for disease control.
SDS PAGE and chromatograpy detected and isolated a P. megistus serpin which was peptide sequenced by mass spectrometry. A full amino acid sequence was obtained from the cDNA and compared with other insect serpins. Reverse transcription PCR analysis measured serpin transcripts of P. megistus tissues with and without T. cruzi infection. Serpin homology modeling used the Swiss Model and Swiss-PDB viewer programmes.
The P. megistus serpin (PMSRP1) has a ca. 40 kDa molecular mass with 404 amino acid residues. A reactive site loop contains a highly conserved hinge region but, based on sequence alignment, the normal cleavage site for serine proteases at P1-P1[prime] was translocated to the putative position P4[prime]-P5. A small peptide obtained corresponded to the C-terminal 40 amino acid region. The secondary structure of PMSRP1 indicated nine alpha-helices and three beta-sheets, similar to other serpins. PMSRP1 transcripts occurred in all tested tissues but were highest in the fat body and hemocytes. Levels of mRNA encoding PMSRP1 were significantly modulated in the hemocytes and stomach by T. cruzi infection indicating a role for PMSRP1 in the parasite interactions with P. megistus.
For the first time, a constitutively expressed serpin has been characterized from the hemolymph of a triatomine. This opens up new research avenues into the roles of serine peptidases in the T. cruzi/P. megistus association. Initial experiments indicate a role for PMSRP1 in T. cruzi interactions with P. megistus and will lead to further functional studies of this molecule.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Parasites & Vectors
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bloodsucking hemipteran Rhodnius prolixus is a vector of Chagas' disease, which affects 7-8 million people today in Latin America. In contrast to other hematophagous insects, the triatomine gut is compartmentalized into three segments that perform different functions during blood digestion. Here we report analysis of transcriptomes for each of the segments using pyrosequencing technology. Comparison of transcript frequency in digestive libraries with a whole-body library was used to evaluate expression levels. All classes of digestive enzymes were highly expressed, with a predominance of cysteine and aspartic proteinases, the latter showing a significant expansion through gene duplication. Although no protein digestion is known to occur in the anterior midgut (AM), protease transcripts were found, suggesting secretion as pro-enzymes, being possibly activated in the posterior midgut (PM). As expected, genes related to cytoskeleton, protein synthesis apparatus, protein traffic, and secretion were abundantly transcribed. Despite the absence of a chitinous peritrophic membrane in hemipterans - which have instead a lipidic perimicrovillar membrane lining over midgut epithelia - several gut-specific peritrophin transcripts were found, suggesting that these proteins perform functions other than being a structural component of the peritrophic membrane. Among immunity-related transcripts, while lysozymes and lectins were the most highly expressed, several genes belonging to the Toll pathway - found at low levels in the gut of most insects - were identified, contrasting with a low abundance of transcripts from IMD and STAT pathways. Analysis of transcripts related to lipid metabolism indicates that lipids play multiple roles, being a major energy source, a substrate for perimicrovillar membrane formation, and a source for hydrocarbons possibly to produce the wax layer of the hindgut. Transcripts related to amino acid metabolism showed an unanticipated priority for degradation of tyrosine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan. Analysis of transcripts related to signaling pathways suggested a role for MAP kinases, GTPases, and LKBP1/AMP kinases related to control of cell shape and polarity, possibly in connection with regulation of cell survival, response of pathogens and nutrients. Together, our findings present a new view of the triatomine digestive apparatus and will help us understand trypanosome interaction and allow insights into hemipteran metabolic adaptations to a blood-based diet.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: TcSMUG L products were recently identified as novel mucin-type glycoconjugates restricted to the surface of insect-dwelling epimastigote forms of Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of Chagas disease. The remarkable conservation of their predicted mature N-terminal region, which is exposed to the extracellular milieu, suggests that TcSMUG L products may be involved in structural and/or functional aspects of the interaction with the insect vector.
Here, we investigated the putative roles of TcSMUG L mucins in both in vivo development and ex vivo attachment of epimastigotes to the luminal surface of the digestive tract of Rhodnius prolixus. Our results indicate that the exogenous addition of TcSMUG L N-terminal peptide, but not control T. cruzi mucin peptides, to the infected bloodmeal inhibited the development of parasites in R. prolixus in a dose-dependent manner. Pre-incubation of insect midguts with the TcSMUG L peptide impaired the ex vivo attachment of epimastigotes to the luminal surface epithelium, likely by competing out TcSMUG L binding sites on the luminal surface of the posterior midgut, as revealed by fluorescence microscopy.
Together, these observations indicate that TcSMUG L mucins are a determinant of both adhesion of T. cruzi epimastigotes to the posterior midgut epithelial cells of the triatomine, and the infection of the insect vector, R. prolixus.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chagas disease is a trypanosomiasis whose causative agent is the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to humans by hematophagous insects known as triatomines and affects a large proportion of South America. The digestive tract of the insect vectors in which T. cruzi develops constitutes a dynamic environment that affects the development of the parasite. Thus, we set out to investigate the chemical composition of the triatomine intestinal tract through a metabolomics approach. We performed Direct Infusion Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry on fecal samples of three triatomine species (Rhodnius prolixus, Triatoma infestans, Panstrongylus megistus) fed with rabbit blood. We then identified groups of metabolites whose frequencies were either uniform in all species or enriched in each of them. By querying the Human Metabolome Database, we obtained putative identities of the metabolites of interest. We found that a core group of metabolites with uniform frequencies in all species represented approximately 80% of the molecules detected, whereas the other 20% varied among triatomine species. The uniform core was composed of metabolites of various categories, including fatty acids, steroids, glycerolipids, nucleotides, sugars, and others. Nevertheless, the metabolic fingerprint of triatomine feces differs depending on the species considered. The variable core was mainly composed of prenol lipids, amino acids, glycerolipids, steroids, phenols, fatty acids and derivatives, benzoic acid and derivatives, flavonoids, glycerophospholipids, benzopyrans, and quinolines. Triatomine feces constitute a rich and varied chemical medium whose constituents are likely to affect T. cruzi development and infectivity. The complexity of the fecal metabolome of triatomines suggests that it may affect triatomine vector competence for specific T. cruzi strains. Knowledge of the chemical environment of T. cruzi in its invertebrate host is likely to generate new ways to understand the factors influencing parasite proliferation as well as methods to control Chagas disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present work is the second one of a two- part publication on the use
of Synchrotron Radiation Phase Contrast microtomography (SR-PhC-μCT)
for the study of Rhodnius prolixus morphology. In previous paper the
visualization of various detailed features were highlighted thanks to
the edge enhancement effects typical of the phase contrast technique,
but the contrast between foreground and background remained poor. In
this study the same data set have been re-visited with application of a
single distance phase retrieval algorithm. The resulting slices showed
very high quality images that enable a better visualization of important
muscles and neurohemal organs of the central nervous system within the
head of Rhodnius prolixus.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Journal of Instrumentation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have used phase-contrast X-ray microtomography (PPC-mCT) to study the head of the blood-feeding
bug, Rhodniusprolixus, whichisoneofthemostimportantinsectvectorof Trypanosomacruzi, ethiologic
processedby ANKA phase are comparedtothoseobtainedthroughdirecttomographicreconstructionof
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We adapted the protocols of reducing sugar measurements with dinitrosalicylic and bicinchoninic acid for thermocyclers, and their use in enzymatic assays for hydrolases such as amylase and β-1,3-glucanase. The use of thermocyclers for these enzymatic assays resulted in a 10 times reduction in the amount of reagent and volume of the sample needed, when compared to conventional microplate protocols. We standardized absorbance readings from the PCR plates which allowed us to make direct readings of the techniques above, and a β-glycosidase assay was also established under the same conditions. Standardization of the enzymatic reaction in thermocyclers resulted in less time-consuming temperature calibrations, and without loss of volume through leakage or evaporation from the microplate. Kinetic parameters were successfully obtained and the use of the thermocycler allowed the measurement of enzymatic activities in biological samples from the field with a limited amount of protein.
No preview · Article · Oct 2012 · Analytical Biochemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Physalin B is a natural secosteroidal, extracted from the Solanaceae plant, Physalis angulata, and it presents immune-modulator effects on the bloodsucking bug, Rhodnius prolixus. In this work, R. prolixus was treated with physalin B at a concentration of 1mg/ml of blood meal (oral application), or 20ng/insect (applied topically) or 57ng/cm(2) of filter paper (contact treatment), and infected with Trypanosoma cruzi Dm28c clone (2×10(6) epimastigotes/insect). The three types of applications significantly decreased the number of T. cruzi Dm28c in the gut comparing with the non-treated infected insects (controls). All groups of infected insects treated with physalin B had higher numbers of bacterial microbiota in the gut than the non-treated controls infected with T. cruzi. We observed that the infected physalin B insects with topical and contact treatments had a lower antibacterial activity in the gut when compared with control infected insects. Furthermore, infected insects with the physalin B oral treatment produced higher levels of nitrite and nitrate in the gut than control infected insects. These results demonstrate that physalin B decreases the T. cruzi transmission by inhibiting the parasite development in the insect vector R. prolixus. Herein the importance of physalin B modulation on the immune system and microbiota population in terms of parasite development and transmission are discussed.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Journal of insect physiology