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Transcriptome analysis reveals unique metabolic features in the Cryptosporidium parvum Oocysts associated with environmental survival and stresses


Abstract Background Cryptosporidium parvum is a globally distributed zoonotic parasite and an important opportunistic pathogen in immunocompromised patients. Little is known on the metabolic dynamics of the parasite, and study is hampered by the lack of molecular and genetic tools. Here we report the development of the first Agilent microarray for C. parvum (CpArray15K) that covers all predicted ORFs in the parasite genome. Global transcriptome analysis using CpArray15K coupled with real-time qRT-PCR uncovered a number of unique metabolic features in oocysts, the infectious and environmental stage of the parasite. Results Oocyst stage parasites were found to be highly active in protein synthesis, based on the high transcript levels of genes associated with ribosome biogenesis, transcription and translation. The proteasome and ubiquitin associated components were also highly active, implying that oocysts might employ protein degradation pathways to recycle amino acids in order to overcome the inability to synthesize amino acids de novo. Energy metabolism in oocysts was featured by the highest level of expression of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) gene. We also studied parasite responses to UV-irradiation, and observed complex and dynamic regulations of gene expression. Notable changes included increased transcript levels of genes involved in DNA repair and intracellular trafficking. Among the stress-related genes, TCP-1 family members and some thioredoxin-associated genes appear to play more important roles in the recovery of UV-induced damages in the oocysts. Our observations also suggest that UV irradiation of oocysts results in increased activities in cytoskeletal rearrangement and intracellular membrane trafficking. Conclusions CpArray15K is the first microarray chip developed for C. parvum, which provides the Cryptosporidium research community a needed tool to study the parasite transcriptome and functional genomics. CpArray15K has been successfully used in profiling the gene expressions in the parasite oocysts as well as their responses to UV-irradiation. These observations shed light on how the parasite oocysts might adapt and respond to the hostile external environment and associated stress such as UV irradiation.

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