An evolutionary genomics approach towards analysis of genes implicated in transmission of trypanosomes between tsetse fly and mammalian host
Mwangi, Sarah Wambui
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Human African trypanosomiasis is the world’s third most important parasitic disease affecting human health after malaria and schistosomiaisis. The world health organization estimates approximately 60 million people at risk in sub-Saharan Africa and up to 50,000 deaths per year caused by trypanosomiasis. Current management of human African trypanosomiasis relies on active surveillance and chemotherapy of infected patients. Efforts to develop a vaccine to immunize the human host have been hampered by antigenic variation of the parasites cell coat. The advent of the genome era has opened up opportunities for developing novel strategies for interrupting the transmission cycle of trypanosomes, specifically using any of the three players,the human host, the tsetse fly vector and/or the parasite. The human genome has been deciphered and the genomes of several trypanosome species have been sequenced. Sequencing of additional neglected trypanosome species is in progress. The tsetse fly genome is currently being sequenced as part of the genomic activities of the International Glossina genome initiative (IGGI). In an attempt to support the tsetse fly sequencing effort, expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from various tissues and developmental stages of Glossina morsitans have been generated.In this study, tsetse fly EST data was analyzed using bioinformatics approaches, focusing on transcripts encoding serpin genes implicated in the immune defenses of tsetse flies. Glossina morsitans homologues to Drosophila melanogaster serpin4, serpin5, and serpin27A and Anopheles gambiae serpin10 were identified in the tsetse fly EST contigs. Comparison of the reactive center loop of tsetse fly serpins with human α-1-antitrypsin suggests that these tsetse serpins are inhibitory. Preliminary EST clustering did not succeed in assembling 3564 Tsal encoded ESTs into one contig. In this study, these ESTs were assembled together with three published Tsal cDNAs. A total of 29 Tsal-encoded contigs were generated. An analysis of the sequence variation within the Tsal EST assembled contigs identified five single base mismatches namely A-T, T-A, G-T and T-G.Results from this study form a basis onto which genetic and biochemical experimental studies can be designed, a process that will be successfully carried out once we have a reference genome. Specifically, studies aimed at genetic modification of tsetse flies towards populations that are inhabitable to trypanosomes. Ultimately, this will supplement current vector control strategies towards elimination of human African trypanosomiasis.