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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2014 Jul;195(2):88-95. doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2014.07.004. Epub 2014 Jul 18.

Wolbachia endosymbionts and human disease control.

Author information

1
Molecular Parasitology Group, Genome Biology Division, New England Biolabs, Inc., 240 County Road, Ipswich, MA 01938, USA. Electronic address: slatko@neb.com.
2
Molecular Parasitology Group, Genome Biology Division, New England Biolabs, Inc., 240 County Road, Ipswich, MA 01938, USA. Electronic address: luck@neb.com.
3
Dept. of Entomology, University of Kentucky, S225 Agricultural Science Center North, Lexington, KY 40546, USA. Electronic address: sdobson@uky.edu.
4
Molecular Parasitology Group, Genome Biology Division, New England Biolabs, Inc., 240 County Road, Ipswich, MA 01938, USA. Electronic address: foster@neb.com.

Abstract

Most human filarial nematode parasites and arthropods are hosts for a bacterial endosymbiont, Wolbachia. In filaria, Wolbachia are required for normal development, fertility and survival, whereas in arthropods, they are largely parasitic and can influence development and reproduction, but are generally not required for host survival. Due to their obligate nature in filarial parasites, Wolbachia have been a target for drug discovery initiatives using several approaches including diversity and focused library screening and genomic sequence analysis. In vitro and in vivo anti-Wolbachia antibiotic treatments have been shown to have adulticidal activity, a long sought goal of filarial parasite drug discovery. In mosquitoes, it has been shown that the presence of Wolbachia can inhibit the transmission of certain viruses, such as Dengue, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever, West Nile, as well as the infectivity of the malaria-causing protozoan, Plasmodium and filarial nematodes. Furthermore, Wolbachia can cause a form of conditional sterility that can be used to suppress populations of mosquitoes and additional medically important insects. Thus Wolbachia, a pandemic endosymbiont offers great potential for elimination of a wide-variety of devastating human diseases.

KEYWORDS:

Arthropod; Chikungunya virus; Dengue virus; Drug discovery; Endosymbiont; Filariasis; Symbiosis; West Nile virus; Wolbachia; Yellow Fever virus

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