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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cytokine-dependent and–independent gene expression changes and cell cycle block revealed in Trypanosoma cruzi-infected host cells by comparative mRNA profiling

Jaime A Costales, Johanna P Daily and Barbara A Burleigh*

Author Affiliations

Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA, 02115, USA

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BMC Genomics 2009, 10:252  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-252

Published: 29 May 2009

Abstract

Background

The requirements for growth and survival of the intracellular pathogen Trypanosoma cruzi within mammalian host cells are poorly understood. Transcriptional profiling of the host cell response to infection serves as a rapid read-out for perturbation of host physiology that, in part, reflects adaptation to the infective process. Using Affymetrix oligonucleotide array analysis we identified common and disparate host cell responses triggered by T. cruzi infection of phenotypically diverse human cell types.

Results

We report significant changes in transcript abundance in T. cruzi-infected fibroblasts, endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells (2852, 2155 and 531 genes respectively; fold-change ≥ 2, p-value < 0.01) 24 hours post-invasion. A prominent type I interferon response was observed in each cell type, reflecting a secondary response to secreted cytokine in infected cultures. To identify a core cytokine-independent response in T. cruzi-infected fibroblasts and endothelial cells transwell plates were used to distinguish cytokine-dependent and -independent gene expression profiles. This approach revealed the induction of metabolic and signaling pathways involved in cell proliferation, amino acid catabolism and response to wounding as common themes in T. cruzi-infected cells. In addition, the downregulation of genes involved in mitotic cell cycle and cell division predicted that T. cruzi infection may impede host cell cycle progression. The observation of impaired cytokinesis in T. cruzi-infected cells, following nuclear replication, confirmed this prediction.

Conclusion

Metabolic pathways and cellular processes were identified as significantly altered at the transcriptional level in response to T. cruzi infection in a cytokine-independent manner. Several of these alterations are supported by previous studies of T. cruzi metabolic requirements or effects on the host. However, our methods also revealed a T. cruzi-dependent block in the host cell cycle, at the level of cytokinesis, previously unrecognized for this pathogen-host cell interaction.