Prototheca zopfii Induced Ultrastructural Features Associated with Apoptosis in Bovine Mammary Epithelial Cells

Muhammad Shahid, Jianfang Wang, Xiaolong Gu, Wei Chen, Tariq Ali, Jian Gao, Dandan Han, Rui Yang, Séamus Fanning, Bo Han

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Prototheca zopfii infections are becoming global concerns in humans and animals. Bovine protothecal mastitis is characterized by deteriorating milk quality and quantity, thus imparting huge economic losses to dairy industry. Previous published studies mostly focused on the prevalence and characterization of P. zopfii from mastitis. However, the ultrastructural pathomorphological changes associated with apoptosis in bovine mammary epithelial cells (bMECs) are not studied yet. Therefore, in this study we aimed to evaluate the in vitro comparative apoptotic potential of P. zopfii genotype-I and -II on bMECs using flow cytometry, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The results showed fast growth rate and higher adhesion capability of genotype-II in bMECs as compared with genotype-I. The viability of bMECs infected with P. zopfii genotype-II was significantly decreased after 12 h (p < 0.05) and 24 h (p < 0.01) in comparison with control cells. Contrary, genotype-I couldn't show any significant effects on cell viability. Moreover, after infection of bMECs with genotype-II, the apoptosis increased significantly at 12 h (p < 0.05) and 24 h (p < 0.01) as compared with control group. Genotype-I couldn't display any significant effects on cell apoptosis. The host specificity of P. zopfii was also tested in mouse osteoblast cells, and the results suggest that genotype-I and -II could not cause any significant apoptosis in these cell lines. SEM interpreted the pathomorphological alterations in bMECs after infection. Adhesion of P. zopfii with cells and further disruption of cytomembrane validated the apoptosis caused by genotype-II under SEM. While genotype-1 couldn't cause any significant apoptosis in bMECs. Furthermore, genotype-II induced apoptotic manifested specific ultrastructure features, like cytoplasmic cavitation, swollen mitochondria, pyknosis, cytomembrane disruption, and appearance of apoptotic bodies under TEM. The findings of the current study revealed that genotype-II has the capability to invade and survive within the bMECs, thus imparting significant damages to the mammary cells which result in apoptosis. This study represents the first insights into the pathomorphological and ultrastructure features of apoptosis in bMECs induced by P. zopfii genotype-II.

Original languageEnglish
Article number299
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Chinese Twelfth ?Five-year? National Science and Technology Support Project (No. 2012BAD12B03), National Education Ministry's Major Project (No. 313054), Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (SRFDP) State Education Ministry (No. 20120008110042), High-end Foreign Experts Recruitment Program (No. GDT20141100043), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 3151101034 and No. 31572587).

Publisher Copyright:
©2017 Shahid, Wang, Gu, Chen, Ali, Gao, Han, Yang, Fanning and Han.


  • Apoptosis
  • Bmecs
  • Bovine mastitis
  • P. zopfii
  • SEM
  • TEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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