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In Nature communications ; h5-index 260.0

Studying emerging or neglected pathogens is often challenging due to insufficient information and absence of genetic tools. Dual RNA-seq provides insights into host-pathogen interactions, and is particularly informative for intracellular organisms. Here we apply dual RNA-seq to Orientia tsutsugamushi (Ot), an obligate intracellular bacterium that causes the vector-borne human disease scrub typhus. Half the Ot genome is composed of repetitive DNA, and there is minimal collinearity in gene order between strains. Integrating RNA-seq, comparative genomics, proteomics, and machine learning to study the transcriptional architecture of Ot, we find evidence for wide-spread post-transcriptional antisense regulation. Comparing the host response to two clinical isolates, we identify distinct immune response networks for each strain, leading to predictions of relative virulence that are validated in a mouse infection model. Thus, dual RNA-seq can provide insight into the biology and host-pathogen interactions of a poorly characterized and genetically intractable organism such as Ot.

Mika-Gospodorz Bozena, Giengkam Suparat, Westermann Alexander J, Wongsantichon Jantana, Kion-Crosby Willow, Chuenklin Suthida, Wang Loo Chien, Sunyakumthorn Piyanate, Sobota Radoslaw M, Subbian Selvakumar, Vogel Jörg, Barquist Lars, Salje Jeanne

2020-Jul-03