Paratransgenesis Applied for Control of Tsetse Transmitted Sleeping Sickness

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Abstract

African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Subsaharan Africa for human and animal health. In the absence of effective vaccines and efficacious drugs, vector control is an alternative intervention tool to break the disease cycle. This describes the vectorial and symbiotic biology of tsetse with emphasis on the current knowledge on tsetse symbiont genomics and functional biology, and tsetse’s trypanosome transmission capability. The ability to culture one of tsetse’s commensal symbiotic microbes, Sodalis in vitro has allowed for the development of a genetic transformation system for this organism. Tsetse can be repopulated with the modified Sodalis symbiont, which can express foreign gene products (an approach we refer to as paratransgenic expression system). Expanding knowledge on tsetse immunity effectors, on genomics of tsetse symbionts and on tsetse’s parasite transmission biology stands to enhance the development and potential application of paratransgenesis as a new vector-control strategy. We describe the hallmarks of the paratransgenic transformation technology where the modified symbionts expressing trypanocidal compounds can be used to manipulate host functions and lead to the control of trypanosomiasis by blocking trypanosome transmission in the tsetse vector.