A Stem-Cell-Derived Platform Enables Complete Cryptosporidium Development In Vitro and Genetic Tractability

Cell Host Microbe. 2019 Jul 10;26(1):123-134.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2019.05.007. Epub 2019 Jun 20.


Despite being a frequent cause of severe diarrheal disease in infants and an opportunistic infection in immunocompromised patients, Cryptosporidium research has lagged due to a lack of facile experimental methods. Here, we describe a platform for complete life cycle development and long-term growth of C. parvum in vitro using "air-liquid interface" (ALI) cultures derived from intestinal epithelial stem cells. Transcriptomic profiling revealed that differentiating epithelial cells grown under ALI conditions undergo profound changes in metabolism and development that enable completion of the parasite life cycle in vitro. ALI cultures support parasite expansion > 100-fold and generate viable oocysts that are transmissible in vitro and to mice, causing infection and animal death. Transgenic parasite lines created using CRISPR/Cas9 were used to complete a genetic cross in vitro, demonstrating Mendelian segregation of chromosomes during meiosis. ALI culture provides an accessible model that will enable innovative studies into Cryptosporidium biology and host interactions.

Keywords: Mendelian genetics; development; host-pathogen interactions; meiosis; organoids; pathway analysis; stem cells; transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cryptosporidiosis / parasitology*
  • Cryptosporidiosis / pathology*
  • Cryptosporidium / growth & development
  • Cryptosporidium / pathogenicity*
  • Epithelial Cells / parasitology*
  • Genetics, Microbial / methods
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microbiological Techniques / methods
  • Models, Theoretical*