Single-cell RNA-seq reveals CD16- monocytes as key regulators of human monocyte transcriptional response to Toxoplasma

Anirudh Patir, Anton Gossner, Prakash Ramachandran, Joana Alves, Thomas C Freeman, Neil C Henderson, Mick Watson, Musa Hassan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Monocytes are among the major myeloid cells that respond to Toxoplasma, a ubiquitous foodborne that infects ≥1 billion people worldwide, in human peripheral blood. As such, a molecular understanding of human monocyte-Toxoplasma interactions can expedite the development of novel human toxoplasmosis control strategies. Current molecular studies on monocyte-Toxoplasma interactions are based on average cell or parasite responses across bulk cell populations. Although informative, population-level averages of monocyte responses to Toxoplasma have sometimes produced contradictory results, such as whether CCL2 or IL12 define effective monocyte response to the parasite. Here, we used single-cell dual RNA sequencing (scDual-Seq) to comprehensively define, for the first time, the monocyte and parasite transcriptional responses that underpin human monocyte-Toxoplasma encounters at the single cell level. We report extreme transcriptional variability between individual monocytes. Furthermore, we report that Toxoplasma-exposed and unexposed monocytes are transcriptionally distinguished by a reactive subset of CD14++CD16-monocytes. Functional cytokine assays on sorted monocyte populations show that the infection distinguishing monocytes secrete high levels of chemokines, such as CCL2 and CXCL5. These findings uncover the Toxoplasma-induced monocyte transcriptional heterogeneity and shed new light on the cell populations that largely define cytokine and chemokine secretion in human monocytes exposed to Toxoplasma.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date3 Dec 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Dec 2020


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