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PLoS Comput Biol. 2013;9(3):e1003000. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003000. Epub 2013 Mar 28.

Transcriptome profiling of Giardia intestinalis using strand-specific RNA-seq.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Giardia intestinalis is a common cause of diarrheal disease and it consists of eight genetically distinct genotypes or assemblages (A-H). Only assemblages A and B infect humans and are suggested to represent two different Giardia species. Correlations exist between assemblage type and host-specificity and to some extent symptoms. Phenotypical differences have been documented between assemblages and genome sequences are available for A, B and E. We have characterized and compared the polyadenylated transcriptomes of assemblages A, B and E. Four genetically different isolates were studied (WB (AI), AS175 (AII), P15 (E) and GS (B)) using paired-end, strand-specific RNA-seq. Most of the genome was transcribed in trophozoites grown in vitro, but at vastly different levels. RNA-seq confirmed many of the present annotations and refined the current genome annotation. Gene expression divergence was found to recapitulate the known phylogeny, and uncovered lineage-specific differences in expression. Polyadenylation sites were mapped for over 70% of the genes and revealed many examples of conserved and unexpectedly long 3' UTRs. 28 open reading frames were found in a non-transcribed gene cluster on chromosome 5 of the WB isolate. Analysis of allele-specific expression revealed a correlation between allele-dosage and allele expression in the GS isolate. Previously reported cis-splicing events were confirmed and global mapping of cis-splicing identified only one novel intron. These observations can possibly explain differences in host-preference and symptoms, and it will be the basis for further studies of Giardia pathogenesis and biology.

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