1. Genetics and Genomics
  2. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
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Stress conditions promote Leishmania hybridization in vitro marked by expression of the ancestral gamete fusogen HAP2 as revealed by single-cell RNAseq

  1. Isabelle Louradour
  2. Tiago Rodrigues Ferreira
  3. Emma Duge
  4. Nadira D Karunaweeera
  5. Andrea Paun
  6. David Sacks  Is a corresponding author
  1. Institut Pasteur, France
  2. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, United States
  3. University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2022;11:e73488 doi: 10.7554/eLife.73488

Abstract

Leishmania are protozoan parasites transmitted by the bite of sand fly vectors producing a wide spectrum of diseases in their mammalian hosts. These diverse clinical outcomes are directly associated with parasite strain and species diversity. Although Leishmania reproduction is mainly clonal, a cryptic sexual cycle capable of producing hybrid genotypes has been inferred from population genetic studies, and directly demonstrated by laboratory crosses. Experimentally, mating competence has been largely confined to promastigotes developing in the sand fly midgut. The ability to hybridize culture promastigotes in vitro has been limited so far to low efficiency crosses between two L. tropica strains, L747 and MA37, that mate with high efficiency in flies. Here, we show that exposure of promastigote cultures to DNA damage stress produces a remarkably enhanced efficiency of in vitro hybridization of the L. tropica strains, and extends to other species, including L. donovani, L. infantum, and L. braziliensis, a capacity to generate intra- and interspecific hybrids. Whole genome sequencing and total DNA content analyses indicate that the hybrids are in each case full genome, mostly tetraploid hybrids. Single-cell RNA sequencing of the L747 and MA37 parental lines highlights the transcriptome heterogeneity of culture promastigotes and reveals discrete clusters that emerge post-irradiation in which genes potentially involved in genetic exchange are expressed, including the ancestral gamete fusogen HAP2. By generating reporter constructs for HAP2, we could select for promastigotes that could either hybridize or not in vitro. Overall, this work reveals that there are specific populations involved in Leishmania hybridization associated with a discernible transcriptomic signature, and that stress facilitated in vitro hybridization can be a transformative approach to generate large numbers of hybrid genotypes between diverse species and strains.

Data availability

The raw sequence data containing reads from the 51 WGS samples and 8 scRNA-seq samples sequenced are deposited in the SRA database with Accession numbers PRJNA756557 and PRJNA756571, respectively.

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Isabelle Louradour

    Department of Parasites and Insect Vectors, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Tiago Rodrigues Ferreira

    Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Emma Duge

    Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Nadira D Karunaweeera

    Department of Parasitology, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-3985-1817
  5. Andrea Paun

    Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. David Sacks

    Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, United States
    For correspondence
    dsacks@nih.gov
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-7557-3124

Funding

Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

  • Andrea Paun

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Christine Clayton, DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance, Germany

Publication history

  1. Received: August 31, 2021
  2. Accepted: January 6, 2022
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: January 7, 2022 (version 1)

Copyright

This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

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