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PLoS Pathog. 2011 Nov;7(11):e1002351. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002351. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

Anti-filarial activity of antibiotic therapy is due to extensive apoptosis after Wolbachia depletion from filarial nematodes.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, Sinsheimer Labs, University of California, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America.

Abstract

Filarial nematodes maintain a mutualistic relationship with the endosymbiont Wolbachia. Depletion of Wolbachia produces profound defects in nematode development, fertility and viability and thus has great promise as a novel approach for treating filarial diseases. However, little is known concerning the basis for this mutualistic relationship. Here we demonstrate using whole mount confocal microscopy that an immediate response to Wolbachia depletion is extensive apoptosis in the adult germline, and in the somatic cells of the embryos, microfilariae and fourth-stage larvae (L4). Surprisingly, apoptosis occurs in the majority of embryonic cells that had not been infected prior to antibiotic treatment. In addition, no apoptosis occurs in the hypodermal chords, which are populated with large numbers of Wolbachia, although disruption of the hypodermal cytoskeleton occurs following their depletion. Thus, the induction of apoptosis upon Wolbachia depletion is non-cell autonomous and suggests the involvement of factors originating from Wolbachia in the hypodermal chords. The pattern of apoptosis correlates closely with the nematode tissues and processes initially perturbed following depletion of Wolbachia, embryogenesis and long-term sterilization, which are sustained for several months until the premature death of the adult worms. Our observations provide a cellular mechanism to account for the sustained reductions in microfilarial loads and interruption of transmission that occurs prior to macrofilaricidal activity following antibiotic therapy of filarial nematodes.

PMID:
22072969
PMCID:
PMC3207916
DOI:
10.1371/journal.ppat.1002351
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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