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Author: Donna Huber

Enteropathogen antibody dynamics and force of infection among children in low-resource settings

Little is known about enteropathogen seroepidemiology among children in low-resource settings. We measured serological IgG responses to eight enteropathogens (Giardia intestinalis, Cryptosporidium parvum, Entamoeba histolytica, Salmonella enterica, enterotoxigenic Escherichia coliVibrio cholerae, Campylobacter jejuni, norovirus) in cohorts from Haiti, Kenya, and Tanzania. We studied antibody dynamics and force of infection across pathogens and cohorts. Enteropathogens shared common seroepidemiologic features that enabled between-pathogen comparisons of transmission. Overall, exposure was intense: for most pathogens the window of primary infection was <3 years old; for highest transmission pathogens primary infection occurred within the first year. Longitudinal profiles demonstrated significant IgG boosting and waning above seropositivity cutoffs, underscoring the value of longitudinal designs to estimate force of infection. Seroprevalence and force of infection were rank-preserving across pathogens, illustrating the measures provide similar information about transmission heterogeneity. Our findings suggest antibody response can be used to measure population-level transmission of diverse enteropathogens in serologic surveillance.

Benjamin F Arnold, Diana L Martin, Jane Juma, Harran Mkocha, John B Ochieng, Gretchen M Cooley, Richard Omore, E Brook Goodhew, Jamae F Morris, Veronica Costantini, Jan Vinjé, Patrick J Lammie, Jeffrey W Priest. Elife. 2019 Aug 19;8. pii: e45594. doi: 10.7554/eLife.45594.

Five-Year Impact of Different Multi-Year Mass Drug Administration Strategies on Childhood Schistosoma mansoni-Associated Morbidity: A Combined Analysis from the Schistosomiasis Consortium for Operational Research and Evaluation Cohort Studies in the Lake Victoria Regions of Kenya and Tanzania

The WHO recommends mass treatment with praziquantel as the primary approach for Schistosoma mansoni-related morbidity control in endemic populations. The Schistosomiasis Consortium for Operational Research and Evaluation implemented multi-country, cluster-randomized trials to compare effectiveness of community-wide and school-based treatment (SBT) regimens on prevalence and intensity of schistosomiasis. To assess the impact of two different treatment schedules on S. mansoni-associated morbidity in children, cohort studies were nested within the randomized trials conducted in villages in Kenya and Tanzania having baseline prevalence ≥ 25%. Children aged 7-8 years were enrolled at baseline and followed to ages 11-12 years. Infection intensity and odds of infection were reduced both in villages receiving four years of annual community-wide treatment (CWT) and those who received biennial SBT over 4 years. These regimens were also associated with reduced odds of undernutrition and reduced odds of portal vein dilation at follow-up. However, neither hemoglobin levels nor the prevalence of the rare abnormal pattern C liver scores on ultrasound improved. For the combined cohorts, growth stunting worsened in the areas receiving biennial SBT, and maximal oxygen uptake as estimated by fitness testing scores declined under both regimens. After adjusting for imbalance in starting prevalence between study arms, children in villages receiving annual CWT had significantly greater decreases in infection prevalence and intensity than those villages receiving biennial SBT. Although health-related quality-of-life scores improved in both study arms, children in the CWT villages gained significantly more. We conclude that programs using annual CWT are likely to achieve better overall S. mansoni morbidity control than those implementing only biennial SBT.

Ye Shen, Ryan E. Wiegand, Annette Olsen, Charles H. King, Nupur Kittur, Sue Binder, Feng Zhang, Christopher C. Whalen, William Evan Secor, Susan P. Montgomery, Pauline N. M. Mwinzi, Pascal Magnussen, Safari Kinung’hi, Carl H. Campbell Jr. and Daniel G. Colley. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2019 Aug 12. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.19-0273.

Robust continuous in vitro culture of the Plasmodium cynomolgi erythrocytic stages

The ability to culture pathogenic organisms substantially enhances the quest for fundamental knowledge and the development of vaccines and drugs. Thus, the elaboration of a protocol for the in vitro cultivation of the erythrocytic stages of Plasmodium falciparum revolutionized research on this important parasite. However, for P. vivax, the most widely distributed and difficult to treat malaria parasite, a strict preference for reticulocytes thwarts efforts to maintain it in vitro. Cultivation of P. cynomolgi, a macaque-infecting species phylogenetically close to P. vivax, was briefly reported in the early 1980s, but not pursued further. Here, we define the conditions under which P. cynomolgi can be adapted to long term in vitro culture to yield parasites that share many of the morphological and phenotypic features of P. vivax. We further validate the potential of this culture system for high-throughput screening to prime and accelerate anti-P. vivax drug discovery efforts.

Chua ACY, Ong JJY, Malleret B, Suwanarusk R, Kosaisavee V, Zeeman AM, Cooper CA, Tan KSW, Zhang R, Tan BH, Abas SN, Yip A, Elliot A, Joyner CJ, Cho JS, Breyer K, Baran S, Lange A, Maher SP, Nosten F, Bodenreider C, Yeung BKS, Mazier D, Galinski MR, Dereuddre-Bosquet N, Le Grand R, Kocken CHM, Rénia L, Kyle DE, Diagana TT, Snounou G, Russell B, Bifani P. Nat Commun. 2019 Aug 12;10(1):3635. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11332-4.

Isolation and characterization of antiplasmodial constituents from the marine sponge Coscinoderma sp.

Six known compounds, namely two halisulfates 1 and 2 and four epidioxy sterols 3–6, were isolated from the marine sponge Coscinoderma sp. The structures of these compounds were confirmed by nuclear magnetic resonance (1H and 13C NMR) spectroscopy, and their antiplasmodial activities were determined against the chloroquine-resistant Dd2 strain of Plasmodium falciparum. The epidioxy steroids 3–6 all showed moderate to weak antiplasmodial activity, with IC50 values of 2.7 μM for (24S)-5α,8α-epidioxy-24-methylcholesta-6-en-3β-ol (3), 11.6 μM for 5α,8α-epidioxycholesta-6,24(28)-dien-3β-o1 (4), 2.33 μM for 5α,8α-epidioxy-24-methylcholesta-6,9(11)-24(28)-trien-3β-ol (5), and between 12 and 24 μM for 5α,8α-epidioxycholesta-6-en-3β-ol (6). In contrast, halisulfate 2 (1) was inactive, and halisulfate 1 (2) had an of IC50 value of about 24 μM.

Jeong H, Latif A, Kong CS, Seo Y, Lee YJ, Dalal SR, Cassera MB, Kingston DGI. Z Naturforsch C. 2019 Aug 6. pii: /j/znc.ahead-of-print/znc-2019-0039/znc-2019-0039.xml. doi: 10.1515/znc-2019-0039.

Toxoplasma F-box protein 1 is required for daughter cell scaffold function during parasite replication

By binding to the adaptor protein SKP1 and serving as substrate receptors for the Skp1, Cullin, F-box E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, F-box proteins regulate critical cellular processes including cell cycle progression and membrane trafficking. While F-box proteins are conserved throughout eukaryotes and are well studied in yeast, plants, and animals, studies in parasitic protozoa are lagging. We have identified eighteen putative F-box proteins in the Toxoplasmagenome of which four have predicted homologs in Plasmodium. Two of the conserved F-box proteins were demonstrated to be important for Toxoplasma fitness and here we focus on an F-box protein, named TgFBXO1, because it is the most highly expressed by replicative tachyzoites and was also identified in an interactome screen as a Toxoplasma SKP1 binding protein. TgFBXO1 interacts with Toxoplasma SKP1 confirming it as a bona fide F-box protein. In interphase parasites, TgFBXO1 is a component of the Inner Membrane Complex (IMC), which is an organelle that underlies the plasma membrane. Early during replication, TgFBXO1 localizes to the developing daughter cell scaffold, which is the site where the daughter cell IMC and microtubules form and extend from. TgFBXO1 localization to the daughter cell scaffold required centrosome duplication but before kinetochore separation was completed. Daughter cell scaffold localization required TgFBXO1 N-myristoylation and was dependent on the small molecular weight GTPase, TgRab11b. Finally, we demonstrate that TgFBXO1 is required for parasite growth due to its function as a daughter cell scaffold effector. TgFBXO1 is the first F-box protein to be studied in apicomplexan parasites and represents the first protein demonstrated to be important for daughter cell scaffold function.

Carlos Gustavo Baptista, Agnieszka Lis, Bowen Deng, Elisabet Gas-Pascual, Ashley Dittmar, Wade Sigurdson, Christopher M. West, Ira J. Blader. PLoS Pathog. 2019 Jul 26;15(7):e1007946. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007946.

Elimination of onchocerciasis in Africa by 2025: the need for a broad perspective

In response to the recent publication “Is onchocerciasis elimination in Africa feasible by 2025: a perspective based on lessons learnt from the African control programmes” by Dadzie et al., it is important to clarify and highlight the positive and unequivocal research and operational contributions from the American experience towards the worldwide elimination of human onchocerciasis (river blindness).

Main text

The strategies of twice or more rounds of mass drug administration (MDA) of ivermectin per year, as well as the use of OV-16 serology have allowed four American countries to be verified by World Health Organization to have eliminated transmission of Onchocerca volvulus, the etiological agent. These advances were also implemented in Sudan and Uganda; currently, both are the only African countries where ivermectin MDA was safely stopped in several transmission zones.


Programmatic treatment and evaluation approaches, pioneered in the Americas, are the most efficient among the existing tools for elimination, and their broader use could catalyze the successful elimination of this disease in Africa.

Ed Cupp, Mauricio Sauerbrey, Vitaliano Cama, Mark Eberhard, Patrick J. Lammie and Thomas R. Unnasch. Infect Dis Poverty. 2019 Jul 15;8(1):50. doi: 10.1186/s40249-019-0557-1.

Preferential infectivity of entomopathogenic nematodes in an envenomed host


Entomopathogenic nematodes and parasitoid wasps are used as biological control agents for management of insect pests such as the Indian meal moth, Plodia interpunctella. The parasitoid wasp Habrobracon hebetor injects a paralytic venom into P. interpunctella larvae before laying eggs. A previous study reported that the entomopathogenic nematode Heterorhabditis indica preferentially infects P. interpunctella that have been envenomed by H. hebetor while results in this study showed a similar preference by the entomopathogenic nematode, Steinernema glaseri. We therefore tested four hypotheses for why nematode infection rates are higher in envenomed hosts: 1) elevated CO2 emission from envenomed hosts attracts nematodes, 2) paralysis prevents hosts from escaping nematodes, 3) volatile chemicals emitted from envenomed hosts attract nematodes and increase infection, and 4) reduced immune defenses in envenomed hosts increase nematode survival. Results showed that envenomed P. interpunctella larvae emitted lower amounts of CO2 than non-envenomed larvae. Physical immobilization of P. interpunctella larvae did not increase infection rates by S. glaseri but did increase infection rates by H. indica. Emissions from envenomed hosts were collected and analyzed by thermal desorption gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The most abundant compound, 3-methyl-3-buten-1-ol, was found to be an effective cue for S. glaseri attraction and infection but was not an effective stimulus for H. indica. Envenomed P. interpunctellaexhibited a stronger immune response toward nematodes than non-envenomed hosts. Altogether, we conclude that different mechanisms underlie preferential infection in the two nematode species: host immobilization for H. indica and chemical cues for S. glaseri.

George N. Mbata, David I. Shapiro-Ilan, Hans T. Alborn, Michael R. Strand. Int J Parasitol. 2019 Jul 12. pii: S0020-7519(19)30168-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2019.05.002.

Persistent Hot spots in Schistosomiasis Consortium for Operational Research and Evaluation Studies for Gaining and Sustaining Control of Schistosomiasis after Four Years of Mass Drug Administration of Praziquantel

Control of schistosomiasis presently relies largely on preventive chemotherapy with praziquantel through mass drug administration (MDA) programs. The Schistosomiasis Consortium for Operational Research and Evaluation has concluded five studies in four countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania) to evaluate alternative approaches to MDA. Studies involved four intervention years, with final evaluation in the fifth year. Mass drug administration given annually or twice over 4 years reduced average prevalence and intensity of schistosome infections, but not all villages that were treated in the same way responded similarly. There are multiple ways by which responsiveness to MDA, or the lack thereof, could be measured. In the analyses presented here, we defined persistent hot spots (PHSs) as villages that achieved less than 35% reduction in prevalence and/or less than 50% reduction in infection intensity after 4 years of either school-based or community-wide MDA, either annually or twice in 4 years. By this definition, at least 30% of villages in each of the five studies were PHSs. We found no consistent relationship between PHSs and the type or frequency of intervention, adequacy of reported MDA coverage, and prevalence or intensity of infection at baseline. New research is warranted to identify PHSs after just one or a few rounds of MDA, and new adaptive strategies need to be advanced and validated for turning PHSs into responder villages.

Nupur Kittur, Charles H. King, Carl H. Campbell Jr., Safari Kinung’hi, Pauline N. M. Mwinzi, Diana M. S. Karanja, Eliezer K. N’Goran, Anna E. Phillips, Pedro H. Gazzinelli-Guimaraes, Annette Olsen, Pascal Magnussen, W. Evan Secor, Susan P. Montgomery, Juerg Utzinger, Joseph W. Walker, Sue Binder and Daniel G. Colley. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2019 Jul 8. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.19-0193

Skp1 isoforms are differentially modified by a dual function prolyl 4-hydroxylase/N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase in a plant pathogen

Skp1 is hydroxylated by an O2-dependent prolyl hydroxylase (PhyA) that contributes to O2-sensing in the social amoeba Dictyostelium and the mammalian pathogen Toxoplasma gondii. HO-Skp1 is subject to glycosylation and the resulting pentasaccharide affects Skp1 conformation in a way that influences association of Skp1 with F-box proteins, and potentially the assembly of E3(SCF) ubiquitin ligase complexes that mediate the poly-ubiquitination of target proteins that are degraded in the 26S-proteasome. To investigate the conservation and specificity of these modifications, we analyzed proteins from the oomycete Pythium ultimum, an important crop plant pathogen. Putative coding sequences for Pythium’s predicted PhyA and first glycosyltransferase in the predicted five-enzyme pathway, a GlcNAc-transferase (Gnt1), predict a bifunctional enzyme (Phgt) that, when expressed in Dictyostelium, rescued knockouts of phyA but not gnt1. Though recombinant Phgt was also unable to glycosylate Dictyostelium HO-Skp1, it could hydrolyze UDP-GlcNAc and modify a synthetic hydroxypeptide from Dictyostelium Skp1. Pythium encodes two highly similar Skp1 isoforms, but only Skp1A was efficiently modified in vitro. While kinetic analysis revealed no evidence for processive processing of Skp1, the physical linkage of the two activities implies dedication to Skp1 in vivo. These findings indicate a widespread occurrence of the Skp1 modification pathway across protist phylogeny, suggest that both Gnt1 and PhyA are specific for Skp1, and indicate that the second Skp1 provides a bypass mechanism for O2-regulation in Pythium and other protists that conserve this gene.

Hanke van der Wel, Elisabet Gas-Pascual, Christopher M West. Glycobiology. 2019 Jul 8. pii: cwz049. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwz049.