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PLoS One. 2015 Apr 27;10(4):e0125063. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125063. eCollection 2015.

Protococcidian Eleutheroschizon duboscqi, an Unusual Apicomplexan Interconnecting Gregarines and Cryptosporidia.

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Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Kotlářská 2, 611 37, Brno, Czech Republic.
Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Faculty of Biology, Saint-Petersburg State University, Universitetskaya emb. 7/9, St. Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation.
Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Faculty of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Leninskiye Gory 1-12, Moscow, 119234, Russian Federation.


This study focused on the attachment strategy, cell structure and the host-parasite interactions of the protococcidian Eleutheroschizon duboscqi, parasitising the polychaete Scoloplos armiger. The attached trophozoites and gamonts of E. duboscqi were detected at different development stages. The parasite develops epicellularly, covered by a host cell-derived, two-membrane parasitophorous sac forming a caudal tipped appendage. Staining with Evans blue suggests that this tail is protein-rich, supported by the presence of a fibrous substance in this area. Despite the ultrastructural evidence for long filaments in the tail, it stained only weakly for F-actin, while spectrin seemed to accumulate in this area. The attachment apparatus consists of lobes arranged in one (trophozoites) or two (gamonts) circles, crowned by a ring of filamentous fascicles. During trophozoite maturation, the internal space between the parasitophorous sac and parasite turns translucent, the parasite trilaminar pellicle seems to reorganise and is covered by a dense fibrous glycocalyx. The parasite surface is organised in broad folds with grooves in between. Micropores are situated at the bottom of the grooves. A layer of filaments organised in bands, underlying the folds and ending above the attachment fascicles, was detected just beneath the pellicle. Confocal microscopy, along with the application of cytoskeletal drugs (jasplakinolide, cytochalasin D, oryzalin) confirmed the presence of actin and tubulin polymerised forms in both the parasitophorous sac and the parasite, while myosin labelling was restricted to the sac. Despite positive tubulin labelling, no microtubules were detected in mature stages. The attachment strategy of E. duboscqi shares features with that of cryptosporidia and gregarines, i.e. the parasite itself conspicuously resembles an epicellularly located gregarine, while the parasitophorous sac develops in a similar manner to that in cryptosporidia. This study provides a re-evaluation of epicellular development in other apicomplexans and directly compares their niche with that of E. duboscqi.

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