Temporal Anomalies in Immunological Gene Expression in a Time Series of Wild Mice: Signature of an Epidemic?

Ida M. Friberg, Ann Lowe, Catriona Ralli, Janette E. Bradley, Joseph Andres Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Although the ecological importance of coinfection is increasingly recognized, analyses of microbial pathogen dynamics in wildlife usually focus on an ad hoc subset of the species present due to technological limitations on detection. Here we demonstrate the use of expression profiles for immunological genes (pattern recognition receptors, cytokines and transcription factors) as a means to identify, without preconception, the likelihood of important acute microbial infections in wildlife. Using a wood mouse population in the UK as a model we identified significant temporal clusters of individuals with extreme expression of immunological mediators across multiple loci, typical of an acute microbial infection. These clusters were circumstantially associated with demographic perturbation in the summertime wood mouse population. Animals in one cluster also had significantly higher individual macroparasite burdens than contemporaries with 'normal' expression patterns. If the extreme transcriptional profiles observed are induced by an infectious agent then this implicates macroparasites as a possible player in mediating individual susceptibility or resilience to infection. The form of survey described here, combined with next generation nucleic acids sequencing methods for the broad detection of microbial infectious agents in individuals with anomalous immunological transcriptional profiles, could be a powerful tool for revealing unrecognized, ecologically important infectious agents circulating in wildlife populations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20070
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS One
Volume6
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2011

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