The genome of Spironucleus salmonicida highlights a fish pathogen adapted to fluctuating environments.

Xu F, Jerlström-Hultqvist J, Einarsson E, Astvaldsson A, Svärd SG, Andersson JO

PLoS Genet. 10 (2) e1004053 [2014-02-00; online 2014-02-06]

Spironucleus salmonicida causes systemic infections in salmonid fish. It belongs to the group diplomonads, binucleated heterotrophic flagellates adapted to micro-aerobic environments. Recently we identified energy-producing hydrogenosomes in S. salmonicida. Here we present a genome analysis of the fish parasite with a focus on the comparison to the more studied diplomonad Giardia intestinalis. We annotated 8067 protein coding genes in the ∼12.9 Mbp S. salmonicida genome. Unlike G. intestinalis, promoter-like motifs were found upstream of genes which are correlated with gene expression, suggesting a more elaborate transcriptional regulation. S. salmonicida can utilise more carbohydrates as energy sources, has an extended amino acid and sulfur metabolism, and more enzymes involved in scavenging of reactive oxygen species compared to G. intestinalis. Both genomes have large families of cysteine-rich membrane proteins. A cluster analysis indicated large divergence of these families in the two diplomonads. Nevertheless, one of S. salmonicida cysteine-rich proteins was localised to the plasma membrane similar to G. intestinalis variant-surface proteins. We identified S. salmonicida homologs to cyst wall proteins and showed that one of these is functional when expressed in Giardia. This suggests that the fish parasite is transmitted as a cyst between hosts. The extended metabolic repertoire and more extensive gene regulation compared to G. intestinalis suggest that the fish parasite is more adapted to cope with environmental fluctuations. Our genome analyses indicate that S. salmonicida is a well-adapted pathogen that can colonize different sites in the host.

NGI Uppsala (SNP&SEQ Technology Platform)

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PubMed 24516394

DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004053

Crossref 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004053


pmc PMC3916229