Ehrlichia chaffeensis transcriptome in mammalian and arthropod hosts reveals differential gene expression and post transcriptional regulation

Jeeba A. Kuriakose, Simone Miyashiro, Tian Luo, Bing Zhu, Jere W. McBride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Background: Human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis is an emerging life-threatening zoonosis caused by obligately intracellular bacterium, Ehrlichia chaffeensis. E. chaffeensis is transmitted by the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum, and replicates in mononuclear phagocytes in mammalian hosts. Differences in the E. chaffeensis transcriptome in mammalian and arthropod hosts are unknown. Thus, we determined host-specific E. chaffeensis gene expression in human monocyte (THP-1) and in Amblyomma and Ixodes tick cell lines (AAE2 and ISE6) using a whole genome microarray. Methodology/Principal Findings: The majority (~80%) of E. chaffeensis genes were expressed during infection in human and tick cells. There were few differences observed in E. chaffeensis gene expression between the vector Amblyomma and non-vector Ixodes tick cells, but extensive host-specific and differential gene expression profiles were detected between human and tick cells, including higher transcriptional activity in tick cells and identification of gene subsets that were differentially expressed in the two hosts. Differentially and host-specifically expressed ehrlichial genes encoded major immunoreactive tandem repeat proteins (TRP), the outer membrane protein (OMP-1) family, and hypothetical proteins that were 30-80 amino acids in length. Consistent with previous observations, high expression of p28 and OMP-1B genes was detected in human and tick cells, respectively. Notably, E. chaffeensis genes encoding TRP32 and TRP47 were highly upregulated in the human monocytes and expressed as proteins; however, although TRP transcripts were expressed in tick cells, the proteins were not detected in whole cell lysates demonstrating that TRP expression was post transcriptionally regulated. Conclusions/Significance: Ehrlichia gene expression is highly active in tick cells, and differential gene expression among a wide variety of host-pathogen associated genes occurs. Furthermore, we demonstrate that genes associated with host-pathogen interactions are differentially expressed and regulated by post transcriptional mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere24136
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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