Glucose and glycogen metabolism in brugia malayi is associated with wolbachia symbiont fitness

Denis Voronin, Saheed Bachu, Michael Shlossman, Thomas R. Unnasch, Elodie Ghedin, Sara Lustigman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wolbachia are endosymbiotic bacteria found in the majority of arthropods and filarial nematodes of medical and veterinary importance. They have evolved a wide range of symbiotic associations. In filarial nematodes that cause human lymphatic filariasis (Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi) or onchocerciasis (Onchocerca volvulus), Wolbachia are important for parasite development, reproduction and survival. The symbiotic bacteria rely in part on nutrients and energy sources provided by the host. Genomic analyses suggest that the strain of Wolbachia found in B. malayi (wBm) lacks the genes for two glycolytic enzymes-6-phosphofructokinase and pyruvate kinase-and is thus potentially unable to convert glucose into pyruvate, an important substrate for energy generation. The Wolbachia surface protein, wBm00432, is complexed to six B. malayi glycolytic enzymes, including aldolase. In this study we characterized two B. malayi aldolase isozymes and found that their expression is dependent on Wolbachia fitness and number. We confirmed by immuno-transmission electron microscopy that aldolase is associated with the Wolbachia surface. RNAi experiments suggested that aldolase-2 plays a significant role in both Wolbachia survival and embryogenesis in B. malayi. Treatment with doxycycline reduced Wolbachia fitness and increased the amount of both glucose and glycogen detected in the filarial parasite, indicating that glucose metabolism and glycogen storage in B. malayi are associated with Wolbachia fitness. This metabolic co-dependency between Wolbachia and its filarial nematode indicates that glycolysis could be a shared metabolic pathway between the bacteria and B. malayi, and thus a potential new target for anti-filarial therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0153812
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Glucose and glycogen metabolism in brugia malayi is associated with wolbachia symbiont fitness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this