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Frontiers in Microbiology

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C57BL/6 mice are widely used for in vivo studies of immune function and metabolism in mammals. In a previous study, it was observed that when C57BL/6 mice purchased from different vendors were infected with Plasmodium yoelii, a causative agent of murine malaria, they exhibited both differential immune responses and significantly different parasite burdens: these patterns were reproducible when gut contents were transplanted into gnotobiotic mice. To gain insight into the mechanism of resistance, we removed whole ceca from mice purchased from two vendors, Taconic Biosciences (low parasitemia) and Charles River Laboratories (high parasitemia), to determine the combined host and microflora metabolome and metatranscriptome. With the exception of two Charles River samples, we observed 90% similarity in overall bacterial gene expression within vendors and 80% similarity between vendors. In total 33 bacterial genes were differentially expressed in Charles River mice (p-value < 0.05) relative to the mice purchased from Taconic. Included among these, fliC, ureABC, and six members of the nuo gene family were overrepresented in microbiomes susceptible to more severe malaria. Moreover, 38 mouse genes were differentially expressed in these purported genetically identical mice. Differentially expressed genes included basigin, a cell surface receptor required for P. falciparum invasion of red blood cells. Differences in metabolite pools were detected, though their relevance to malaria infection, microbial community activity, or host response is not yet understood. Our data have provided new targets that may connect gut microbial activity to malaria resistance and susceptibility phenotypes in the C57BL/6 model organism.


This article was published openly thanks to the University of Tennessee Open Publishing Support Fund.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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