Giardia intestinalis is a common cause of diarrheal disease and it consists of eight genetically distinct genotypes or assemblages (A-H). Only assemblages A and B infect humans and are suggested to represent two different Giardia species. Correlations exist between assemblage type and host-specificity and to some extent symptoms. Phenotypical differences have been documented between assemblages and genome sequences are available for A, B and E.
Now, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden have characterized and compared the polyadenylated transcriptomes of assemblages A, B and E. Four genetically different isolates were studied (WB (AI), AS175 (AII), P15 (E) and GS (B)) using paired-end, strand-specific RNA-Seq. Most of the genome was transcribed in trophozoites grown in vitro, but at vastly different levels. RNA-Seq confirmed many of the present annotations and refined the current genome annotation. Gene expression divergence was found to recapitulate the known phylogeny, and uncovered lineage-specific differences in expression. Polyadenylation sites were mapped for over 70% of the genes and revealed many examples of conserved and unexpectedly long 3′ UTRs. 28 open reading frames were found in a non-transcribed gene cluster on chromosome 5 of the WB isolate. Analysis of allele-specific expression revealed a correlation between allele-dosage and allele expression in the GS isolate. Previously reported cis-splicing events were confirmed and global mapping of cis-splicing identified only one novel intron. These observations can possibly explain differences in host-preference and symptoms, and it will be the basis for further studies of Giardia pathogenesis and biology.
Franzén O, Jerlström-Hultqvist J, Einarsson E, Ankarklev J, Ferella M, Andersson B, Svärd SG. (2013) Transcriptome Profiling of Giardia intestinalis Using Strand-specific RNA-Seq. PLoS Comput Biol 9(3), e1003000. [article]