Transcriptional changes in Schistosoma mansoni during early schistosomula development and in the presence of erythrocytes

Geoffrey N. Gobert, Mai H. Tran, Luke Moertel, Jason Mulvenna, Malcolm K. Jones, Donald P. McManus, Alex Loukas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Schistosomes cause more mortality and morbidity than any other human helminth, but control primarily relies on a single drug that kills adult worms. The newly transformed schistosomulum stage is susceptible to the immune response and is a target for vaccine development and rational drug design. Methodology/Principal Findings: To identify genes which are up-regulated during the maturation of Schistosoma mansoni schistosomula in vitro, we cultured newly transformed parasites for 3 h or 5 days with and without erythrocytes and compared their transcriptional profiles using cDNA microarrays. The most apparent changes were in the up-regulation of genes between 3 h and 5 day schistosomula involved in blood feeding, tegument and cytoskeletal development, cell adhesion, and stress responses. The most highly up-regulated genes included a tegument tetraspanin Sm-tsp-3 (1,600-fold up-regulation), a protein kinase, a novel serine protease and serine protease inhibitor, and intestinal proteases belonging to distinct mechanistic classes. The inclusion of erythrocytes in the culture medium resulted in a general but less pronounced increase in transcriptional activity, with the highest up-regulation of genes involved in iron metabolism, proteolysis, and transport of fatty acids and sugars. Conclusions: We have identified the genes that are up-regulated during the first 5 days of schistosomula development in vitro. Using a combination of gene silencing techniques and murine protection studies, some of these highly up-regulated transcripts can be targeted for future development of new vaccines and drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere600
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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