Background: The availability of two genetically very similar cell lines (A and B) derived from the laboratory isolate Entamoeba histolytica HM-1:IMSS, which differ in their virulence properties, provides a powerful tool for identifying pathogenicity factors of the causative agent of human amoebiasis. Cell line A is incapable inducing liver abscesses in gerbils, whereas interaction with cell line B leads to considerable abscess formation. Phenotypic characterization of both cell lines revealed that trophozoites from the pathogenic cell line B have a larger cell size, an increased growth rate in vitro, an increased cysteine peptidase activity and higher resistance to nitric oxide stress. To find proteins that may serve as virulence factors, the proteomes of both cell lines were previously studied, resulting in the identification of a limited number of differentially synthesized proteins. This study aims to identify additional genes, serving as virulence factors, or virulence markers.Results: To obtain a comprehensive picture of the differences between the cell lines, we compared their transcriptomes using an oligonucleotide-based microarray and confirmed findings with quantitative real-time PCR. Out of 6242 genes represented on the array, 87 are differentially transcribed (≥two-fold) in the two cell lines. Approximately 50% code for hypothetical proteins. Interestingly, only 19 genes show a five-fold or higher differential expression. These include three rab7 GTPases, which were found with a higher abundance in the non-pathogenic cell line A. The aig1-like GTPasesare of special interest because the majority of them show higher levels of transcription in the pathogenic cell line B. Only two molecules were found to be differentially expressed between the two cell lines in both this study and our previous proteomic approach.Conclusions: In this study we have identified a defined set of genes that are differentially transcribed between the non-pathogenic cell line A and the pathogenic cell line B of E. histolytica. The identification of transcription profiles unique for amoebic cell lines with pathogenic phenotypes may help to elucidate the transcriptional framework of E. histolytica pathogenicity and serve as a basis for identifying transcriptional markers and virulence factors.
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