April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic analysis provides insights into the transmission and pathogenicity of Talaromyces marneffei.

Talaromyces marneffei (T. marneffei) is a medically important opportunistic dimorphic fungus that infects both humans and bamboo rats. However, the mechanisms of transmission and pathogenicity of T. marneffei are poorly understood. In our study, we combined Illumina and PacBio sequencing technologies to sequence and assemble a complete genome of T. marneffei. To elucidate the transmission route and source, we sequenced three additional T. marneffei isolates using Illumina sequencing technology. Variations among isolates were used to develop a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) system comprising five housekeeping genes that can be used to discriminate between isolates derived from different sources. Our analysis revealed that human and bamboo rat share identical genotypes in these five loci. Thus, we hypothesized that T. marneffei is transmitted to humans through inhalation of spores in the surrounding environment into the lungs and that the bamboo rat can serve as an important natural reservoir for pathogens. Furthermore, we also identified temperature-dependent polyketide synthases, non-ribosomal peptide synthetases and secreted proteins as putative pathogenicity-related factors. In addition, we identified antifungal drug targets that can be investigated in future studies to elucidate the mechanisms underlying drug resistance. In summary, our study presents the basic features of the T. marneffei genome and provides insights into the transmission and pathogenicity of T. marneffei, which warrant fundamental experimental research.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

April 21, 2020  |  

Current advances in HIV vaccine preclinical studies using Macaque models.

The macaque simian or simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SIV/SHIV) challenge model has been widely used to inform and guide human vaccine trials. Substantial advances have been made recently in the application of repeated-low-dose challenge (RLD) approach to assess SIV/SHIV vaccine efficacies (VE). Some candidate HIV vaccines have shown protective effects in preclinical studies using the macaque SIV/SHIV model but the model’s true predictive value for screening potential HIV vaccine candidates needs to be evaluated further. Here, we review key parameters used in the RLD approach and discuss their relevance for evaluating VE to improve preclinical studies of candidate HIV vaccines.Crown Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

April 21, 2020  |  

Meiotic sex in Chagas disease parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.

Genetic exchange enables parasites to rapidly transform disease phenotypes and exploit new host populations. Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasitic agent of Chagas disease and a public health concern throughout Latin America, has for decades been presumed to exchange genetic material rarely and without classic meiotic sex. We present compelling evidence from 45 genomes sequenced from southern Ecuador that T. cruzi in fact maintains truly sexual, panmictic groups that can occur alongside others that remain highly clonal after past hybridization events. These groups with divergent reproductive strategies appear genetically isolated despite possible co-occurrence in vectors and hosts. We propose biological explanations for the fine-scale disconnectivity we observe and discuss the epidemiological consequences of flexible reproductive modes. Our study reinvigorates the hunt for the site of genetic exchange in the T. cruzi life cycle, provides tools to define the genetic determinants of parasite virulence, and reforms longstanding theory on clonality in trypanosomatid parasites.

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