School of Medicine
Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology
While typically a flea parasite and opportunistic human pathogen, the presence of Rickettsia felis (strain LSU-Lb) in the non-blood- feeding, parthenogenetically reproducing booklouse, Liposcelis bostrychophila, provides a system to ascertain factors governing not only host transitions but also obligate reproductive parasitism (RP). Analysis of plasmid pLbAR, unique to R. felis str. LSU-Lb, revealed a toxin–antitoxin module with similar features to prophage-encoded toxin–antitoxin modules utilized by parasitic Wolbachia strains to induce another form of RP, cytoplasmic incompatibility, in their arthropod hosts. Curiously, multiple deubiquitinase and nuclease domains of the large (3,841 aa) pLbAR toxin, as well the entire antitoxin, facilitated the detection of an assortment of related proteins from diverse intracellular bacteria, including other reproductive parasites. Our description of these remarkable components of the intracellular mobilome, including their presence in certain arthropod genomes, lends insight on the evolution of RP, while invigo- rating research on parasite-mediated biocontrol of arthropod-borne viral and bacterial pathogens.
Digital Commons Citation
Gillespie, Joseph J.; Driscoll, Timothy P.; Verhoeve, Victoria I.; Rahman, Mohammed Sayeedur; and Macaluso, Kevin R., "A Tangled Web: Origins of Reproductive Parasitism" (2018). Faculty & Staff Scholarship. 1438.
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