Characterising trypanosome infections in zebrafish
Trypanosoma carassii and Trypanoplasma borreli are extracellular blood parasites of cyprinid fish phylogenetically closely related to Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of the sleeping sickness disease in humans and livestock. Motility is crucial for trypanosome pathogenicity, but real-time visualization of parasite movement in vivo, in the natural host environment, has not been reported thus far.
In this project, we report the establishment of T. carassii and TBorreli infection in zebrafish (Danio rerio), which allows us, for the first time in a vertebrate host, to characterize in details the movement of trypanosomes in vivo. By combining the transparency of zebrafish larvae with the availability of several transgenic lines marking for example macrophages, neutrophils, cytokine-expressing leukocytes and endothelial cells, we were able to study in real-time: 1) parasite movement in vivo; 2) the kinetics of innate immune responses; and 3) parasite interaction with host (immune) cells.
This PhD project is conducted at the Cell Biology and Immunology Group and the Experimental Zoology Group.