Hydrodynamic gene delivery of baboon trypanosome lytic factor eliminates both animal and human-infective African trypanosomes
Several species of African trypanosomes cause fatal disease in livestock, but most cannot infect humans due to innate trypanosome lytic factors (TLFs). Human TLFs are pore forming high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles that contain apolipoprotein L-I (apoL-I) the trypanolytic component, and haptoglobin-related protein (Hpr), which binds free hemoglobin (Hb) in blood and facilitates the uptake of TLF via a trypanosome haptoglobin-hemoglobin receptor. The human-infective Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense escapes lysis by TLF by expression of serum resistance-associated (SRA) protein, which binds and neutralizes apoL-I. Unlike humans, baboons are not susceptible to infection by T. b. rhodesiense due to previously unidentified serum factors. Here, we show that baboons have a TLF complex that contains orthologs of Hpr and apoL-I and that full-length baboon apoL-I confers trypanolytic activity to mice and when expressed together with baboon Hpr and human apoA-I, provides protection against both animal infective and the human-infective T. brucei rhodesiense in vivo. We further define two critical lysines near the C terminus of baboon apoL-1 that are necessary and sufficient to prevent binding to SRA and thereby confer resistance to human-infective trypanosomes. These findings form the basis for the creation of TLF transgenic livestock that would be resistant to animal and human-infective trypanosomes, which would result in the reduction of disease and the zoonotic transmission of human infective trypanosomes.