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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. Jun 2011; 5(6): e1173.
Published online Jun 7, 2011. doi:  10.1371/journal.pntd.0001173
PMCID: PMC3110168

Genetic Control of Resistance to Trypanosoma brucei brucei Infection in Mice

Philippe Büscher, Editor

Abstract

Background

Trypanosoma brucei brucei infects livestock, with severe effects in horses and dogs. Mouse strains differ greatly in susceptibility to this parasite. However, no genes controlling these differences were mapped.

Methods

We studied the genetic control of survival after T. b. brucei infection using recombinant congenic (RC) strains, which have a high mapping power. Each RC strain of BALB/c-c-STS/A (CcS/Dem) series contains a different random subset of 12.5% genes from the parental “donor” strain STS/A and 87.5% genes from the “background” strain BALB/c. Although BALB/c and STS/A mice are similarly susceptible to T. b. brucei, the RC strain CcS-11 is more susceptible than either of them. We analyzed genetics of survival in T. b. brucei-infected F2 hybrids between BALB/c and CcS-11. CcS-11 strain carries STS-derived segments on eight chromosomes. They were genotyped in the F2 hybrid mice and their linkage with survival was tested by analysis of variance.

Results

We mapped four Tbbr (Trypanosoma brucei brucei response) loci that influence survival after T. b. brucei infection. Tbbr1 (chromosome 3) and Tbbr2 (chromosome 12) have effects on survival independent of inter-genic interactions (main effects). Tbbr3 (chromosome 7) influences survival in interaction with Tbbr4 (chromosome 19). Tbbr2 is located on a segment 2.15 Mb short that contains only 26 genes.

Conclusion

This study presents the first identification of chromosomal loci controlling susceptibility to T. b. brucei infection. While mapping in F2 hybrids of inbred strains usually has a precision of 40–80 Mb, in RC strains we mapped Tbbr2 to a 2.15 Mb segment containing only 26 genes, which will enable an effective search for the candidate gene. Definition of susceptibility genes will improve the understanding of pathways and genetic diversity underlying the disease and may result in new strategies to overcome the active subversion of the immune system by T. b. brucei.

Author Summary

Trypanosoma brucei are extracellular protozoa transmitted to mammalian host by the tsetse fly. They developed several mechanisms that subvert host's immune defenses. Therefore analysis of genes affecting host's resistance to infection can reveal critical aspects of host-parasite interactions. Trypanosoma brucei brucei infects many animal species including livestock, with particularly severe effects in horses and dogs. Mouse strains differ greatly in susceptibility to T. b. brucei. However, genes controlling susceptibility to this parasite have not been mapped. We analyzed the genetic control of survival after T. b. brucei infection using CcS/Dem recombinant congenic (RC) strains, each of which contains a different random set of 12.5% genes of their donor parental strain STS/A on the BALB/c genetic background. The RC strain CcS-11 is even more susceptible to parasites than BALB/c or STS/A. In F2 hybrids between BALB/c and CcS-11 we detected and mapped four loci, Tbbr1-4 (Trypanosoma brucei brucei response 1–4), that control survival after T. b. brucei infection. Tbbr1 (chromosome 3) and Tbbr2 (chromosome 12) have independent effects, Tbbr3 (chromosome 7) and Tbbr4 (chromosome 19) were detected by their mutual inter-genic interaction. Tbbr2 was precision mapped to a segment of 2.15 Mb that contains 26 genes.


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