Scientific article
Open access

Live imaging of the Cryptosporidium parvum life cycle reveals direct development of male and female gametes from type I meronts

Published inPLoS biology, vol. 20, no. 4, e3001604
Publication date2022-04-18
First online date2022-04-18

Cryptosporidium is a leading infectious cause of diarrhea around the world associated with waterborne outbreaks, community spread, or zoonotic transmission. The parasite has significant impact on early childhood mortality, and infection is both a consequence and cause of malnutrition and stunting. There is currently no vaccine, and treatment options are very limited. Cryptosporidium is a member of the Apicomplexa, and, as typical for this, protist phylum relies on asexual and sexual reproduction. In contrast to other Apicomplexa, including the malaria parasite Plasmodium , the entire Cryptosporidium life cycle unfolds in a single host in less than 3 days. Here, we establish a model to image life cycle progression in living cells and observe, track, and compare nuclear division of asexual and sexual stage parasites. We establish the length and sequence of the cell cycles of all stages and map the developmental fate of parasites across multiple rounds of invasion and egress. We propose that the parasite executes an intrinsic program of 3 generations of asexual replication, followed by a single generation of sexual stages that is independent of environmental stimuli. We find no evidence for a morphologically distinct intermediate stage (the tetraploid type II meront) but demonstrate direct development of gametes from 8N type I meronts. The progeny of each meront is collectively committed to either asexual or sexual fate, but, importantly, meronts committed to sexual fate give rise to both males and females. We define a Cryptosporidium life cycle matching Tyzzer’s original description and inconsistent with the coccidian life cycle now shown in many textbooks.

Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
ENGLISH, Elizabeth D. et al. Live imaging of the Cryptosporidium parvum life cycle reveals direct development of male and female gametes from type I meronts. In: PLoS biology, 2022, vol. 20, n° 4, p. e3001604. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001604
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ISSN of the journal1544-9173

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