Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Animal Disease Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #343541

Research Project: Development of Detection and Control Strategies for Bovine Babesiosis and Equine Piroplasmosis

Location: Animal Disease Research

Title: Advances in the application of genetic manipulation methods to apicomplexan parasites

Author
item Suarez, Carlos
item Bishop, Richard - Washington State University
item Alzan, Hf - Washington State University
item Poole, W - Victoria University
item Cook, Bm - Victoria University

Submitted to: International Journal for Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/24/2017
Publication Date: 9/8/2017
Citation: Suarez, C.E., Bishop, R.P., Alzan, H., Poole, W., Cook, B. 2017. Advances in the application of genetic manipulation methods to apicomplexan parasites. International Journal for Parasitology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpara.2017.08.002.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpara.2017.08.002

Interpretive Summary: Apicomplexan parasites such as Babesia, Theileria, Cryptosporidium, and Toxoplasma have a high negative impact on animal health globally, and improved, cost-effective measures to control them are urgently required. These parasites have complex multi-stage life cycles including obligate intracellular stages. Major gaps in our understanding of the biology of these relatively poorly characterized parasites and the diseases they cause severely limit options for designing novel control methods. Here we review potentially important shared aspects of the biology of these parasites, such as cell invasion, hot cell modification, and asexual and sexual reproduction, and explore the potential of the application of relatively well-established or newly emerging genetic manipulation methods (GMMs), such as classical transfection or gene editing respectively, for closing important gaps in our knowledge of the function of specific genes and proteins and the biology of these parasites, and the development of novel methods of control of the diseases caused by these economically-important parasites. We envisage that rapid progress in the development of novel gene editing techniques, applied to apicomplexan parasites of veterinary interest will ultimately lead to the development of novel and more efficient methods for disease control.

Technical Abstract: Apicomplexan parasites such as Babesia, Theileria, Cryptosporidium, and Toxoplasma have a high negative impact on animal health globally, and improved, cost-effective measures to control them are urgently required. These parasites have complex multi-stage life cycles including obligate intracellular stages. Major gaps in our understanding of the biology of these relatively poorly characterized parasites and the diseases they cause severely limit options for designing novel control methods. Here we review potentially important shared aspects of the biology of these parasites, such as cell invasion, hot cell modification, and asexual and sexual reproduction, and explore the potential of the application of relatively well-established or newly emerging genetic manipulation methods (GMMs), such as classical transfection or gene editing respectively, for closing important gaps in our knowledge of the function of specific genes and proteins and the biology of these parasites. In addition, GMMs impact the development of novel methods of control of the diseases caused by these economically-important parasites. Transient and stable transfection methods, in conjunction with whole and deep genome sequencing, were initially instrumental for improving our understanding of the molecular biology of apicomplexan parasites and paved the way for the application of the more recently developed gene editing methods. The increasingly efficient gene editing methods, in particular those based on the CRISPR/Cas 9 system and previous conceptually-similar techniques are also already contributing to additional gene function discovery using reverse genetics and related approaches. However, gene editing methods are only possible because the increasing availability of in vitro culture, transfection, and genome sequencing and analysis techniques. We envisage that rapid progress in the development of novel gene editing techniques, applied to apicomplexan parasites of veterinary interest will ultimately lead to the development of novel and more efficient methods for disease control.