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Transcriptomic insights into the early host-pathogen interaction of cat intestine with Toxoplasma gondii

Wang, Meng; Zhang, Fu-Kai; Elsheikha, Hany M.; Zhang, Nian-Zhang; He, Jun-Jun; Luo, Jian-Xun; Zhu, Xing-Quan


Meng Wang

Fu-Kai Zhang

Nian-Zhang Zhang

Jun-Jun He

Jian-Xun Luo

Xing-Quan Zhu


Background: Although sexual reproduction of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii exclusively occurs in the cat intestine, knowledge about the alteration of gene expression in the intestine of cats infected with T. gondii is still limited. Here, we investigated the temporal transcriptional changes that occur in the cat intestine during T. gondii infection.
Methods: Cats were infected with 100 T. gondii cysts and their intestines were collected at 6, 12, 18, 24, 72 and 96 hours post-infection (hpi). RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) Illumina technology was used to gain insight into the spectrum of genes that are differentially expressed due to infection. Quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) was also used to validate the level of expression of a set of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) obtained by sequencing.
Results: Our transcriptome analysis revealed 2363 DEGs that were clustered into six unique patterns of gene expression across all the time points after infection. Our analysis revealed 56, 184, 404, 508, 400 and 811 DEGs in infected intestines compared to uninfected controls at 6, 12, 18, 24, 72 and 96 hpi, respectively. RNA-Seq results were confirmed by qRT-PCR. DEGs were mainly enriched in catalytic activity and metabolic process based on gene ontology enrichment analysis. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway analysis showed that transcriptional changes in the intestine of infected cats evolve over the course of infection, and the largest difference in the enriched pathways was observed at 96 hpi. The anti-T. gondii defense response of the feline host was mediated by Major Histocompatibility Complex class I, proteasomes, heat-shock proteins and fatty acid binding proteins.
Conclusions: This study revealed novel host factors, which may be critical for the successful establishment of an intracellular niche during T. gondii infection in the definitive feline host.


Wang, M., Zhang, F., Elsheikha, H. M., Zhang, N., He, J., Luo, J., & Zhu, X. (2018). Transcriptomic insights into the early host-pathogen interaction of cat intestine with Toxoplasma gondii. Parasites and Vectors, 11(1), Article 592.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 29, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 14, 2018
Publication Date Nov 14, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 19, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 19, 2018
Journal Parasites & Vectors
Print ISSN 1756-3305
Electronic ISSN 1756-3305
Publisher BioMed Central
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 1
Article Number 592
Keywords Parasitology; Infectious Diseases
Public URL
Publisher URL


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