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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2010 Jul 27;4(7):e758. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000758.

Asymmetric Wolbachia segregation during early Brugia malayi embryogenesis determines its distribution in adult host tissues.

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Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America.


Wolbachia are required for filarial nematode survival and fertility and contribute to the immune responses associated with human filarial diseases. Here we developed whole-mount immunofluorescence techniques to characterize Wolbachia somatic and germline transmission patterns and tissue distribution in Brugia malayi, a nematode responsible for lymphatic filariasis. In the initial embryonic divisions, Wolbachia segregate asymmetrically such that they occupy only a small subset of cells in the developing embryo, facilitating their concentration in the adult hypodermal chords and female germline. Wolbachia are not found in male reproductive tissues and the absence of Wolbachia from embryonic germline precursors in half of the embryos indicates Wolbachia loss from the male germline may occur in early embryogenesis. Wolbachia rely on fusion of hypodermal cells to populate adult chords. Finally, we detect Wolbachia in the secretory canal lumen suggesting living worms may release bacteria and/or their products into their host.

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