Despite the severity and global burden of Cryptosporidium infection, treatments are less than optimal, and there is no effective vaccine. Egress from host cells is a key process for the completion of the life cycle of apicomplexan parasites. For Plasmodium species, subtilisin-like serine protease (SUB1) is a key mediator of egress. For Toxoplasma species, calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs) are critical. In this study, we characterized Cryptosporidium SUB1 expression and evaluated its effect using an infection model. We found increased expression between 12 and 20 h after in vitro infection, prior to egress. We induced silencing of SUB1 (ΔSUB1) mRNA using SUB1 single-stranded antisense RNA coupled with human Argonaute 2. Silencing of SUB1 mRNA expression did not affect parasite viability, excystation, or invasion of target cells. However, knockdown led to a 95% decrease in the proportion of released merozoites in vitro (P 0.0001). In contrast, silencing of CDPK5 had no effect on egress. Overall, our results indicate that SUB1 is a key mediator of Cryptosporidium egress and suggest that interruption of the life cycle at this stage may effectively inhibit the propagation of infection.
- Calcium-dependent protein kinase
- Cryptosporidium parvum
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases