Comparative transcriptomics and host-specific parasite gene expression profiles inform on drivers of proliferative kidney disease

Marc Faber, Sophie Shaw, Sohye Yoon, Eduardo De Paiva Alves, Bei Wang, Zhitao Qi, Beth Okamura, Hanna Hartikainen, Christopher J. Secombes, Jason Holland* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


The myxozoan parasite, Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae has a two-host life cycle alternating between freshwater bryozoans and salmonid fish. Infected fish can develop Proliferative Kidney Disease (PKD), characterised by a gross lymphoid-driven kidney pathology in wild and farmed salmonids. To facilitate an in-depth understanding of T. bryosalmonae-host
interactions, we have used a two-host parasite transcriptome sequencing approach in generating two parasite transcriptome assemblies; the first derived from parasite spore sacs isolated from infected bryozoans and the second from infected fish kidney tissues. This approach was adopted to minimize host contamination in the absence of a complete T. bryosalmonae genome. Parasite contigs common to both infected hosts (the intersect transcriptome; 7,362 contigs) were typically AT-rich (60-75% AT). 5,432 contigs within the intersect were annotated. 1,930 unannotated contigs encoded for unknown transcripts. We
have focused on transcripts encoding proteins involved in; nutrient acquisition, host-parasite interactions, development, cell-to-cell communication and proteins of unknown function, establishing their potential importance in each host by RT-qPCR. Host-specific expression profiles were evident, particularly in transcripts encoding proteases and proteins involved in lipid metabolism, cell adhesion, and development. We confirm for the first time the presence of homeobox proteins and a frizzled homologue in myxozoan parasites. The novel insights into myxozoan biology that this study reveals will help to focus research in developing future disease control strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2149
Number of pages17
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

This study was supported financially by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC-1087-CS), a Swiss National Science Foundation Sinergia Project (CRS113 986 147649), a Ph.D. studentship to Marc Faber from the EU H2020 (H2020-SFS-10a-2014) program (ParaFishControl; 634429) and the Natural History Museum, London. We would like to thank Christopher Saunders-Davies of Test Valley Trout Ltd and Oliver Robinson of the British Trout Association for provision of fish and sampling facilities. Dr Daniel MacQueen of the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, for provision of rainbow trout transcriptome assemblies. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


  • Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae
  • myxozoan
  • freshwater bryozoan
  • rainbow trout
  • metabolism
  • development
  • virulence
  • gene expression


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparative transcriptomics and host-specific parasite gene expression profiles inform on drivers of proliferative kidney disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this