Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 29339220
Infect. Genet. Evol. 2018 Jan;
Trypanosomiases and leishmaniases, caused by a group of related protist parasites, are Neglected Tropical Diseases currently threatening >500 million people worldwide. Reporter proteins have revolutionised the research on infectious diseases and have opened up new advances in the understanding of trypanosomatid-borne diseases in terms of both biology, pathogenesis and drug development. Here, we describe the generation and some applications of a new chimeric triple reporter fusion protein combining the red-shifted firefly luciferase PpyREH9 and the tdTomato red fluorescent protein, fused by the TY1 tag. Expressed in both Trypanosoma brucei brucei and Leishmania major transgenic parasites, this construct was successfully assessed on different state-of-the-art imaging technologies, at different scales ranging from whole organism to cellular level, both in vitro and in vivo in murine models. For T. b. brucei, the usefulness of this triple marker to monitor the entire parasite cycle in both tsetse flies and mice was further demonstrated. This stable reporter allows to qualitatively and quantitatively scrutinize in real-time several crucial aspects of the parasite’s development, including the development of African trypanosomes in the dermis of the mammalian host. We briefly discuss developments in bio-imaging technologies and highlight how we could improve our understanding of parasitism by combining the genetic engineering of parasites to the one of the hosting organisms in which they complete their developmental program.