Parasitology 148 (6) 712-725 [2021-05-00; online 2021-02-04]
The study aimed to monitor parasite and host gene expression during the early stages of Eimeria tenella infection of chicken cells using dual RNA-Seq analysis. For this, we used chicken macrophage-like cell line HD11 cultures infected in vitro with purified E. tenella sporozoites. Cultures were harvested between 2 and 72 h post-infection and mRNA was extracted and sequenced. Dual RNA-Seq analysis showed clear patterns of altered expression for both parasite and host genes during infection. For example, genes in the chicken immune system showed upregulation early (2–4 h), a strong downregulation of genes across the immune system at 24 h and a repetition of early patterns at 72 h, indicating that invasion by a second generation of parasites was occurring. The observed downregulation may be due to immune self-regulation or to immune evasive mechanisms exerted by E. tenella. Results also suggested pathogen recognition receptors involved in E. tenella innate recognition, MRC2, TLR15 and NLRC5 and showed distinct chemokine and cytokine induction patterns. Moreover, the expression of several functional categories of Eimeria genes, such as rhoptry kinase genes and microneme genes, were also examined, showing distinctive differences which were expressed in sporozoites and merozoites.