Stuart Young

and 6 more

1. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) has been commonly used to measure gene expression in a number of research contexts, but the measured RNA concentrations do not always represent the concentrations of active proteins which they encode. This can be due to transcriptional regulation or post-translational modifications, or localisation of immune environments, as can occur during infection. However, in studies using free-living non-model species, such as in ecoimmunological research, qPCR may be the only available option to measure a parameter of interest, and so understanding the quantitative link between gene expression and associated effector protein levels is vital. 2. Here we use qPCR to measure concentrations of RNA from mesenteric lymph node (MLN) and spleen tissue, and multiplex ELISA of blood serum to measure circulating cytokine concentrations in a wild population of a model species, Mus musculus domesticus. 3. Few significant correlations were found between gene expression levels and circulating cytokines of the same immune genes or proteins, or related functional groups. Where significant correlations were observed, these were most frequently within the measured tissue (i.e. the expression levels of genes measured from spleen tissue were more likely to correlate with each other rather than with genes measured from MLN tissue, or with cytokine concentrations measured from blood). 4. Potential reasons for discrepancies between measures, including differences in decay rates and transcriptional regulation networks are discussed. We highlight the relative usefulness of different measures under different research questions, and consider what might be inferred from immune assays.

Jonathan Fenn

and 7 more

1. Wild animal populations typically harbour multiple parasite species, which can interact in various ways depending on the species involved and the state of the host upon infection. While many pairwise parasite interactions and within-guild parasite communities have been characterised, understanding how an interaction network spanning multiple parasite groups might be mediated has been less commonly explored. 2. We aimed to characterise parasites associations across guilds in a wild population of a model species, allowing for comparisons with existing laboratory-based research, and better understanding of how any observed associations might manifest within the host. 3. We used cross-sectional data from an island population of the house mouse, Mus musculus domesticus, to identify associations between a broad range of parasite species, including blood-borne microparasites, arthropod ectoparasites, and gastrointestinal and hepatic helminths. 4. Every recorded species was found to exist within a framework of positive and negative associations, involving multiple between-guild associations, and with the under-studied helminth species Calodium hepaticum playing a central role. 5. This study highlights the need to account for as many infections as possible when studying naturally infected populations, due to the prevalence of inter-species associations. Various potential mechanisms, including immunological and ecological, are suggested to explain how these associations might occur. Comparisons with analogous laboratory research from the same species are explored. A need for longitudinal study to determine causality of interactions is highlighted.