Development of the livestock pathogen Trypanosoma (Nannomonas) simiae in the tsetse fly with description of putative sexual stages from the proboscis

Lori Peacock, Christopher J Kay, Clare F Collett, Mick Bailey, Wendy C Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background Tsetse-transmitted African animal trypanosomiasis is recognised as an important disease of ruminant livestock in sub-Saharan Africa, but also affects domestic pigs, with Trypanosoma simiae notable as a virulent suid pathogen that can rapidly cause death. Trypanosoma simiae is widespread in tsetse-infested regions, but its biology has been little studied compared to T. brucei and T. congolense.Methods Trypanosoma simiae procyclics were cultured in vitro and transfected using protocols developed for T. brucei. Genetically modified lines, as well as wild-type trypanosomes, were transmitted through tsetse flies, Glossina pallidipes, to study T. simiae development in the tsetse midgut, proventriculus and proboscis. The development of proventricular trypanosomes was also studied in vitro. Image and mensural data were collected and analysed.Results A PFR1::YFP line successfully completed development in tsetse, but a YFP::HOP1 line failed to progress beyond midgut infection. Analysis of image and mensural data confirmed that the vector developmental cycles of T. simiae and T. congolense are closely similar, but we also found putative sexual stages in T. simiae, as judged by morphological similarity to these stages in T. brucei. Putative meiotic dividers were abundant among T. simiae trypanosomes in the proboscis, characterised by a large posterior nucleus and two anterior kinetoplasts. Putative gametes and other meiotic intermediates were also identified by characteristic morphology. In vitro development of proventricular forms of T. simiae followed the pattern previously observed for T. congolense: long proventricular trypanosomes rapidly attached to the substrate and shortened markedly before commencing cell division.Conclusions To date, T. brucei is the only tsetse-transmitted trypanosome with experimentally proven capability to undergo sexual reproduction, which occurs in the fly salivary glands. By analogy, sexual stages of T. simiae or T. congolense are predicted to occur in the proboscis, where the corresponding portion of the developmental cycle takes place. While no such stages have been observed in T. congolense, for T. simiae putative sexual stages were abundant in the tsetse proboscis. Although our initial attempt to demonstrate expression of a YFP-tagged, meiosis-specific protein was unsuccessful, the future application of transgenic approaches will facilitate the identification of meiotic stages and hybrids in T. simiae.
Original languageEnglish
Article number231
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2023


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