Genetic Manipulation of Schistosoma haematobium, the Neglected Schistosome

University of Queensland, Australia
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (Impact Factor: 4.45). 10/2011; 5(10):e1348. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001348
Source: PubMed


Minimal information on the genome and proteome of Schistosoma haematobium is available, in marked contrast to the situation with the other major species of human schistosomes for which draft genome sequences have been reported. Accordingly, little is known about functional genomics in S. haematobium, including the utility or not of RNA interference techniques that, if available, promise to guide development of new interventions for schistosomiasis haematobia.
Here we isolated and cultured developmental stages of S. haematobium, derived from experimentally infected hamsters. Targeting different developmental stages, we investigated the utility of soaking and/or square wave electroporation in order to transfect S. haematobium with nucleic acid reporters including Cy3-labeled small RNAs, messenger RNA encoding firefly luciferase, and short interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Three hours after incubation of S. haematobium eggs in 50 ng/µl Cy3-labeled siRNA, fluorescent foci were evident indicating that labeled siRNA had penetrated into miracidia developing within the egg shell. Firefly luciferase activity was detected three hours after square wave electroporation of the schistosome eggs and adult worms in 150 ng/µl of mRNA. RNA interference knockdown (silencing) of reporter luciferase activity was seen following the introduction of dsRNA specific for luciferase mRNA in eggs, schistosomules and mixed sex adults. Moreover, introduction of an endogenous gene-specific siRNA into adult schistosomes silenced transcription of tetraspanin 2 (Sh-tsp-2), the apparent orthologue of the Schistosoma mansoni gene Sm-tsp-2 which encodes the surface localized structural and signaling protein Sm-TSP-2. Together, knockdown of reporter luciferase and Sh-tsp-2 indicated the presence of an intact RNAi pathway in S. haematobium. Also, we employed laser scanning confocal microscopy to view the adult stages of S. haematobium.
These findings and approaches should facilitate analysis of gene function in S. haematobium, which in turn could facilitate the characterization of prospective intervention targets for this neglected tropical disease pathogen.

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    • "In conclusion, the present study provides a useful resource for the selection of high-priority candidates for functional genomic and biological studies as well as drug target discovery in schistosomes. Methods, such as RNA interference (RNAi) [102,103], can now be used for the functional validation of GPCR-encoding genes in S. haematobium and S. mansoni. In addition, immuno-molecular methods are already in use for the identification of GPCR ligands and their localization in flatworms [22,23,58]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease affecting ~200 million people worldwide. Schistosoma haematobium and S. mansoni are two relatively closely related schistosomes (blood flukes), and the causative agents of urogenital and hepatointestinal schistosomiasis, respectively. The availability of genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic data sets for these two schistosomes now provides unprecedented opportunities to explore their biology, host interactions and schistosomiasis at the molecular level. A particularly important group of molecules involved in a range of biological and developmental processes in schistosomes and other parasites are the G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Although GPCRs have been studied in schistosomes, there has been no detailed comparison of these receptors between closely related species. Here, using a genomic-bioinformatic approach, we identified and characterised key GPCRs in S. haematobium and S. mansoni (two closely related species of schistosome). Methods Using a Hidden Markov Model (HMM) and Support Vector Machine (SVM)-based pipeline, we classified and sub-classified GPCRs of S. haematobium and S. mansoni, combined with phylogenetic and transcription analyses. Results We identified and classified classes A, B, C and F as well as an unclassified group of GPCRs encoded in the genomes of S. haematobium and S. mansoni. In addition, we characterised ligand-specific subclasses (i.e. amine, peptide, opsin and orphan) within class A (rhodopsin-like). Conclusions Most GPCRs shared a high degree of similarity and conservation, except for members of a particular clade (designated SmGPR), which appear to have diverged between S. haematobium and S. mansoni and might explain, to some extent, some of the underlying biological differences between these two schistosomes. The present set of annotated GPCRs provides a basis for future functional genomic studies of cellular GPCR-mediated signal transduction and a resource for future drug discovery efforts in schistosomes.
    Parasites & Vectors 05/2014; 7(1):242. DOI:10.1186/1756-3305-7-242 · 3.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Schistosomiasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by blood flukes (genus Schistosoma; schistosomes) and affecting 200 million people worldwide. No vaccines are available, and treatment relies on one drug, praziquantel. Schistosoma haematobium has come into the spotlight as a major cause of urogenital disease, as an agent linked to bladder cancer and as a predisposing factor for HIV/AIDS. The parasite is transmitted to humans from freshwater snails. Worms dwell in blood vessels and release eggs that become embedded in the bladder wall to elicit chronic immune-mediated disease and induce squamous cell carcinoma. Here we sequenced the 385-Mb genome of S. haematobium using Illumina-based technology at 74-fold coverage and compared it to sequences from related parasites. We included genome annotation based on function, gene ontology, networking and pathway mapping. This genome now provides an unprecedented resource for many fundamental research areas and shows great promise for the design of new disease interventions.
    Nature Genetics 02/2012; 44(2):221-5. DOI:10.1038/ng.1065 · 29.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Schistosoma haematobium is the etiologic agent for urogenital schistosomiasis, a major source of morbidity and mortality for more than 112 million people worldwide. Infection with S. haematobium results in a variety of immunopathologic sequelae caused by parasite oviposition within the urinary tract, which drives inflammation, hematuria, fibrosis, bladder dysfunction, and increased susceptibility to urothelial carcinoma. While humans readily develop urogenital schistosomiasis, the lack of an experimentally-tractable model has greatly impaired our understanding of the mechanisms that underlie this important disease. We have developed an improved mouse model of S. haematobium urinary tract infection that recapitulates several aspects of human urogenital schistosomiasis. Following microinjection of purified S. haematobium eggs into the bladder wall, mice consistently develop macrophage-rich granulomata that persist for at least 3 months and pass eggs in their urine. Importantly, egg-injected mice also develop urinary tract fibrosis, bladder dysfunction, and various urothelial changes morphologically reminiscent of human urogenital schistosomiasis. As expected, S. haematobium egg-induced immune responses in the immediate microenvironment, draining lymph nodes, and systemic circulation are associated with a Type 2-dominant inflammatory response, characterized by high levels of interleukin-4, eosinophils, and IgE. Taken together, our novel mouse model may help facilitate a better understanding of the unique pathophysiological mechanisms of epithelial dysfunction, tissue fibrosis, and oncogenesis associated with urogenital schistosomiasis.
    PLoS Pathogens 03/2012; 8(3):e1002605. DOI:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002605 · 7.56 Impact Factor
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