Cestode genomics - progress and prospects for advancing basic and applied aspects of flatworm biology.
ABSTRACT Characterization of the first tapeworm genome, Echinococcus multilocularis, is now nearly complete, and genome assemblies of E. granulosus, Taenia solium and Hymenolepis microstoma are in advanced draft versions. These initiatives herald the beginning of a genomic era in cestodology and underpin a diverse set of research agendas targeting both basic and applied aspects of tapeworm biology. We discuss the progress in the genomics of these species, provide insights into the presence and composition of immunologically relevant gene families, including the antigen B- and EG95/45W families, and discuss chemogenomic approaches toward the development of novel chemotherapeutics against cestode diseases. In addition, we discuss the evolution of tapeworm parasites and introduce the research programmes linked to genome initiatives that are aimed at understanding signalling systems involved in basic host-parasite interactions and morphogenesis.
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ABSTRACT: Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is a life-threatening disease caused by larvae of the fox-tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis. Crucial to AE pathology is continuous infiltrative growth of the parasite's metacestode stage, which is driven by a population of somatic stem cells, called germinative cells. Current anti-AE chemotherapy using benzimidazoles is ineffective in eliminating the germinative cell population, thus leading to remission of parasite growth upon therapy discontinuation.PLoS neglected tropical diseases. 06/2014; 8(6):e2870.
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ABSTRACT: Alveolar echinococcosis (AE), caused by the metacestode of the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, is a lethal zoonosis associated with host immunomodulation. T helper cells are instrumental to control the disease in the host. Whereas Th1 cells can restrict parasite proliferation, Th2 immune responses are associated with parasite proliferation. Although the early phase of host colonization by E. multilocularis is dominated by a potentially parasitocidal Th1 immune response, the molecular basis of this response is unknown. We describe EmTIP, an E. multilocularis homologue of the human T-cell immunomodulatory protein, TIP. By immunohistochemistry we show EmTIP localization to the intercellular space within parasite larvae. Immunoprecipitation and Western blot experiments revealed the presence of EmTIP in the excretory/secretory (E/S) products of parasite primary cell cultures, representing the early developing metacestode, but not in those of mature metacestode vesicles. Using an in vitro T-cell stimulation assay, we found that primary cell E/S products promoted interferon (IFN)-γ release by murine CD4+ T-cells, whereas metacestode E/S products did not. IFN-γ release by T-cells exposed to parasite products was abrogated by an anti-EmTIP antibody. When recombinantly expressed, EmTIP promoted IFN-γ release by CD4+ T-cells in vitro. After incubation with anti-EmTIP antibody, primary cells showed an impaired ability to proliferate and to form metacestode vesicles in vitro. We provide for the first time a possible explanation for the early Th1 response observed during E. multilocularis infections. Our data indicate that parasite primary cells release a T-cell immunomodulatory protein, EmTIP, capable of promoting IFN-γ release by CD4+ T-cells, which is probably driving or supporting the onset of the early Th1 response during AE. The impairment of primary cell proliferation and the inhibition of metacestode vesicle formation by anti-EmTIP antibodies suggest that this factor fulfills an important role in early E. multilocularis development within the intermediate host.PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 01/2014; 8(1):e2632. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The metacestode of the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis is the causative agent of alveolar echinococcosis, a lethal zoonosis. Infections are initiated through establishment of parasite larvae within the intermediate host's liver, where high concentrations of insulin are present, followed by tumour-like growth of the metacestode in host organs. The molecular mechanisms determining the organ tropism of E. multilocularis or influences of host hormones on parasite proliferation are poorly understood to date. Using in vitro cultivation systems for parasite larvae we show that physiological concentrations (10 nM) of human insulin significantly stimulate the formation of metacestode larvae from parasite stem cells and promote asexual growth of the metacestode. Addition of human insulin to parasite larvae led to increased glucose uptake and enhanced phosphorylation of Echinococcus insulin signalling components, including an insulin receptor-like kinase, EmIR1, for which we demonstrate predominant expression in the parasite's glycogen storage cells. We also characterized a second insulin receptor family member, EmIR2, and demonstrated interaction of its ligand binding domain with human insulin in the yeast two-hybrid system. Addition of an insulin receptor inhibitor resulted in metacestode killing, prevented metacestode development from parasite stem cells, and impaired the activation of insulin signalling pathways through host insulin. Our data indicate that host insulin acts as a stimulant for parasite development within the host liver and that E. multilocularis senses the host hormone through an evolutionarily conserved insulin signalling pathway. Hormonal host-parasite cross-communication, facilitated by the relatively close phylogenetic relationship between E. multilocularis and its mammalian hosts, thus appears to be important in the pathology of alveolar echinococcosis. This contributes to a closer understanding of organ tropism and parasite persistence in larval cestode infections. Furthermore, our data show that Echinococcus insulin signalling pathways are promising targets for the development of novel drugs.BMC Biology 01/2014; 12(1):5. · 7.43 Impact Factor