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PloS one

The Gametocytes of Leucocytozoon sabrazesi Infect Chicken Thrombocytes, Not Other Blood Cells.


PMID 26218846

Abstract

Leucocytozoon parasites infect a large number of avian hosts, including domestic chicken, and cause significant economical loss to the poultry industry. Although the transmission stages of the parasites were observed in avian blood cells more than a century ago, the specific host cell type(s) that the gametocytes infect remain uncertain. Because all the avian blood cells, including red blood cells (RBCs), are nucleated, and the developing parasites dramatically change the morphology of the infected host cells, it has been difficult to identify Leucocytozoon infected host cell(s). Here we use cell-type specific antibodies to investigate the identities of the host cells infected by Leucocytozoon sabrazesi gametocytes. Anti-RBC antibodies stained RBCs membrane strongly, but not the parasite-infected cells, ruling out the possibility of RBCs being the infected host cells. Antibodies recognizing various leukocytes including heterophils, monocytes, lymphocytes, and macrophages did not stain the infected cells either. Antisera raised against a peptide of the parasite cytochrome B (CYTB) stained parasite-infected cells and some leukocytes, particularly cells with a single round nucleus as well as clear/pale cytoplasm suggestive of thrombocytes. Finally, a monoclonal antibody known to specifically bind chicken thrombocytes also stained the infected cells, confirming that L. sabrazesi gametocytes develop within chicken thrombocytes. The identification of L. sabrazesi infected host cell solves a long unresolved puzzle and provides important information for studying parasite invasion of host cells and for developing reagents to interrupt parasite transmission.