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Transcriptomic analysis of global changes in cytokine expression in mouse spleens following acute Toxoplasma gondii infection


Toxoplasma gondii is a global pathogen that infects a wide range of animals and humans. During T. gondii infection, the spleen plays an important role in coordinating the adaptive and innate immune responses. However, there is little information regarding the changes in global gene expression within the spleen following T. gondii infection. To address this gap in knowledge, we examined the transcriptome of the mouse spleen following T. gondii infection. We observed differential expression of 2310 transcripts under these conditions. Analysis of KEGG and GO enrichment indicated that T. gondii alters multiple immune signaling cascades. Most of differentially expressed GO terms and pathways were downregulated, while immune-related GO terms and pathways were upregulated with response to T. gondii infection in mouse spleen. Most cytokines were upregulated in infected spleens, and all differentially expressed chemokines were upregulated which enhanced the immune cells chemotaxis to promote recruitment of immune cells, such as neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes, dendritic cells, macrophages, NK cells, basophils, B cells, and T cells. Although IFN-γ-induced IDO (Ido1) was upregulated in the present study, it may not contribute a lot to the control of T. gondii because most differentially expressed genes involved in tryptophan metabolism pathway were downregulated. Innate immunity pathways, including cytosolic nucleic acid sensing pathway and C-type lectins-Syk-Card9 signaling pathways, were upregulated. We believe our study is the first comprehensive attempt to define the host transcriptional response to T. gondii infection in the mouse spleen.

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Project support was provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31230073) to XQZ.

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Correspondence to Si-Yang Huang or Xing-Quan Zhu.

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All animals were handled strictly according to the Animal Ethics Procedures and Guidelines of the People’s Republic of China, and the study was reviewed and approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of Lanzhou Veterinary Study Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

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Fig. S1

Differentially expressed genes related to tryptophan metabolism in mouse spleens following T. gondii infection. Red represents upregulation, green represents downregulation. (GIF 26 kb)

Fig. S2

Differential expression of iNOS and interferon-inducible GTPases in mouse spleens following T. gondii infection. (GIF 74 kb)

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High Resolution Image (TIFF 367 kb)

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He, J., Ma, J., Song, H. et al. Transcriptomic analysis of global changes in cytokine expression in mouse spleens following acute Toxoplasma gondii infection. Parasitol Res 115, 703–712 (2016).

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  • Toxoplasmas gondii
  • Spleen
  • Cytokines
  • Transcriptome
  • RNA-seq