Veterinary Biosciences - Research Publications

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    Helminth lipidomics: Technical aspects and future prospects.
    Wang, T ; Nie, S ; Reid, GE ; Gasser, RB (Elsevier BV, 2021)
    Lipidomics is a relatively recent molecular research field, and explores lipids (fats) and their biology using advanced mass spectrometry technologies. Although this field has expanded significantly in biomedical and biotechnological disciplines, it is still in its infancy in molecular parasitology. Our goal here is to review and discuss technical aspects of MS-based lipidomics and its recent applications to parasitic worms, as well as challenges and future directions for worm lipid research. In a multi-omic paradigm, we expect that the exploration of lipidomic data for parasitic worms will yield important insights into lipid-associated biological pathways and processes, including the regulation of essential signalling pathways, parasite invasion, establishment, adaptation and development.
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    Nuclear genome of Bulinus truncatus, an intermediate host of the carcinogenic human blood fluke Schistosoma haematobium
    Young, ND ; Stroehlein, AJ ; Wang, T ; Korhonen, PK ; Mentink-Kane, M ; Stothard, JR ; Rollinson, D ; Gasser, RB (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2022-02-21)
    Some snails act as intermediate hosts (vectors) for parasitic flatworms (flukes) that cause neglected tropical diseases, such as schistosomiases. Schistosoma haematobium is a blood fluke that causes urogenital schistosomiasis and induces bladder cancer and increased risk of HIV infection. Understanding the molecular biology of the snail and its relationship with the parasite could guide development of an intervention approach that interrupts transmission. Here, we define the genome for a key intermediate host of S. haematobium-called Bulinus truncatus-and explore protein groups inferred to play an integral role in the snail's biology and its relationship with the schistosome parasite. Bu. truncatus shared many orthologous protein groups with Biomphalaria glabrata-the key snail vector for S. mansoni which causes hepatointestinal schistosomiasis in people. Conspicuous were expansions in signalling and membrane trafficking proteins, peptidases and their inhibitors as well as gene families linked to immune response regulation, such as a large repertoire of lectin-like molecules. This work provides a sound basis for further studies of snail-parasite interactions in the search for targets to block schistosomiasis transmission.
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    Chromosome-scale Echinococcus granulosus (genotype G1) genome reveals the Eg95 gene family and conservation of the EG95-vaccine molecule
    Korhonen, PK ; Kinkar, L ; Young, ND ; Cai, H ; Lightowlers, MW ; Gauci, C ; Jabbar, A ; Chang, BCH ; Wang, T ; Hofmann, A ; Koehler, A ; Li, J ; Li, J ; Wang, D ; Yin, J ; Yang, H ; Jenkins, DJ ; Saarma, U ; Laurimae, T ; Rostami-Nejad, M ; Irshadullah, M ; Mirhendi, H ; Sharbatkhori, M ; Ponce-Gordo, F ; Simsek, S ; Casulli, A ; Zait, H ; Atoyan, H ; de la Rue, ML ; Romig, T ; Wassermann, M ; Aghayan, SA ; Gevorgyan, H ; Yang, B ; Gasser, RB (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2022-03-03)
    Cystic echinococcosis is a socioeconomically important parasitic disease caused by the larval stage of the canid tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus, afflicting millions of humans and animals worldwide. The development of a vaccine (called EG95) has been the most notable translational advance in the fight against this disease in animals. However, almost nothing is known about the genomic organisation/location of the family of genes encoding EG95 and related molecules, the extent of their conservation or their functions. The lack of a complete reference genome for E. granulosus genotype G1 has been a major obstacle to addressing these areas. Here, we assembled a chromosomal-scale genome for this genotype by scaffolding to a high quality genome for the congener E. multilocularis, localised Eg95 gene family members in this genome, and evaluated the conservation of the EG95 vaccine molecule. These results have marked implications for future explorations of aspects such as developmentally-regulated gene transcription/expression (using replicate samples) for all E. granulosus stages; structural and functional roles of non-coding genome regions; molecular 'cross-talk' between oncosphere and the immune system; and defining the precise function(s) of EG95. Applied aspects should include developing improved tools for the diagnosis and chemotherapy of cystic echinococcosis of humans.
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    Dysidenin from the Marine Sponge Citronia sp. Affects the Motility and Morphology of Haemonchus contortus Larvae In Vitro
    Ramage, KS ; Taki, AC ; Lum, KY ; Hayes, S ; Byrne, JJ ; Wang, T ; Hofmann, A ; Ekins, MG ; White, JM ; Jabbar, A ; Davis, RA ; Gasser, RB (MDPI, 2021-12-01)
    High-throughput screening of the NatureBank marine extract library (n = 7616) using a phenotypic assay for the parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus identified an active extract derived from the Australian marine sponge Citronia sp. Bioassay-guided fractionation of the CH2Cl2/MeOH extract from Citronia sp. resulted in the purification of two known hexachlorinated peptides, dysidenin (1) and dysideathiazole (2). Compound 1 inhibited the growth/development of H. contortus larvae and induced multiple phenotypic changes, including a lethal evisceration (Evi) phenotype and/or somatic cell and tissue destruction. This is the first report of anthelmintic activity for these rare and unique polychlorinated peptides.
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    High-quality reference genome for Clonorchis sinensis
    Young, ND ; Stroehlein, AJ ; Kinkar, L ; Wang, T ; Sohn, W-M ; Chang, BCH ; Kaur, P ; Weisz, D ; Dudchenko, O ; Aiden, EL ; Korhonen, PK ; Gasser, RB (ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE, 2021-04-19)
    The Chinese liver fluke, Clonorchis sinensis, causes the disease clonorchiasis, affecting ~35 million people in regions of China, Vietnam, Korea and the Russian Far East. Chronic clonorchiasis causes cholangitis and can induce a malignant cancer, called cholangiocarcinoma, in the biliary system. Control in endemic regions is challenging, and often relies largely on chemotherapy with one anthelmintic, called praziquantel. Routine treatment carries a significant risk of inducing resistance to this anthelmintic in the fluke, such that the discovery of new interventions is considered important. It is hoped that the use of molecular technologies will assist this endeavour by enabling the identification of drug or vaccine targets involved in crucial biological processes and/or pathways in the parasite. Although draft genomes of C. sinensis have been published, their assemblies are fragmented. In the present study, we tackle this genome fragmentation issue by utilising, in an integrated way, advanced (second- and third-generation) DNA sequencing and informatic approaches to build a high-quality reference genome for C. sinensis, with chromosome-level contiguity and curated gene models. This substantially-enhanced genome provides a resource that could accelerate fundamental and applied molecular investigations of C. sinensis, clonorchiasis and/or cholangiocarcinoma, and assist in the discovery of new interventions against what is a highly significant, but neglected disease-complex.
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    High Throughput Screening of the NatureBank 'Marine Collection' in a Haemonchus Bioassay Identifies Anthelmintic Activity in Extracts from a Range of Sponges from Australian Waters
    Taki, AC ; Byrne, JJ ; Jabbar, A ; Lum, KY ; Hayes, S ; Addison, RS ; Ramage, KS ; Hofmann, A ; Ekins, MG ; Wang, T ; Chang, BCH ; Davis, RA ; Gasser, RB (MDPI, 2021-10-01)
    Widespread resistance in parasitic nematodes to most classes of anthelmintic drugs demands the discovery and development of novel compounds with distinct mechanisms of action to complement strategic or integrated parasite control programs. Products from nature-which assume a diverse 'chemical space'-have significant potential as a source of anthelmintic compounds. In the present study, we screened a collection of extracts (n = 7616) derived from marine invertebrates sampled from Australian waters in a high throughput bioassay for in vitro anti-parasitic activity against the barber's pole worm (Haemonchus contortus)-an economically important parasitic nematode of livestock animals. In this high throughput screen (HTS), we identified 58 active extracts that reduced larval motility by ≥70% (at 90 h), equating to an overall 'hit rate' of ~0.8%. Of these 58 extracts, 16 also inhibited larval development by ≥80% (at 168 h) and/or induced 'non-wild-type' (abnormal) larval phenotypes with reference to 'wild-type' (normal) larvae not exposed to extract (negative controls). Most active extracts (54 of 58) originated from sponges, three from chordates (tunicates) and one from a coral; these extracts represented 37 distinct species/taxa of 23 families. An analysis of samples by 1H NMR fingerprinting was utilised to dereplicate hits and to prioritise a set of 29 sponge samples for future chemical investigation. Overall, these results indicate that a range of sponge species from Australian waters represents a rich source of natural compounds with nematocidal or nematostatic properties. Our plan now is to focus on in-depth chemical investigations of the sample set prioritised herein.
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    Cryptosporidium of birds in pet markets in Wuhan city, Hubei, China.
    Liao, C ; Wang, T ; Koehler, AV ; Hu, M ; Gasser, RB (Elsevier BV, 2021)
    Cryptosporidium is a group of protistan parasites of a range of vertebrates including mammals and birds. Stimulated by previous work that revealed "zoonotic" Cryptosporidium meleagridis subtypes (i.e. IIIbA26G1R1b and IIIbA22G1R1c) in diarrhoeic children and domestic chickens in Wuhan city and environs in Hubei Province, China, here we explored whether zoonotic C. meleagridis subtypes might also occur in pet birds in Wuhan city. From 11 bird markets in this city, we collected 322 faecal samples from 48 species of birds (representing six taxonomic orders), isolated genomic DNA and then conducted PCR-based sequencing of genetic markers in the small subunit (SSU) of the nuclear ribosomal RNA and the 60 kDa glycoprotein (gp60) genes of Cryptosporidium. Using SSU, Cryptosporidium was detected in 55 (17%) of the 322 samples. Cryptosporidium avium, C. baileyi, C. meleagridis, C. muris and C. proventriculi were characterised in 18%, 47%, 11%, 2% and 20% of the 55 samples, respectively, and a novel Cryptosporidium galli-like taxon in one sample. Using gp60, only one subtype (IIIeA17G2R1) of C. meleagridis was identified, which had not been detected in a previous study of diarrhoeic children in Wuhan. However, IIIe subtypes have been found in both humans and birds around the world. The relatively high prevalence and genetic diversity of Cryptosporidium recorded here in pet birds raise awareness about possible reservoirs of zoonotic variants of Cryptosporidium in birds in Wuhan, and potentially, other provinces in China.
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    Prospects of Using High-Throughput Proteomics to Underpin the Discovery of Animal Host-Nematode Interactions
    Wang, T ; Gasser, RB (MDPI, 2021-07-01)
    Parasitic nematodes impose a significant public health burden, and cause major economic losses to agriculture worldwide. Due to the widespread of anthelmintic resistance and lack of effective vaccines for most nematode species, there is an urgent need to discover novel therapeutic and vaccine targets, informed through an understanding of host-parasite interactions. Proteomics, underpinned by genomics, enables the global characterisation proteins expressed in a particular cell type, tissue and organism, and provides a key to insights at the host-parasite interface using advanced high-throughput mass spectrometry-based proteomic technologies. Here, we (i) review current mass-spectrometry-based proteomic methods, with an emphasis on a high-throughput 'bottom-up' approach; (ii) summarise recent progress in the proteomics of parasitic nematodes of animals, with a focus on molecules inferred to be involved in host-parasite interactions; and (iii) discuss future research directions that could enhance our knowledge and understanding of the molecular interplay between nematodes and host animals, in order to work toward new, improved methods for the treatment, diagnosis and control of nematodiases.
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    High-Throughput Phenotypic Assay to Screen for Anthelmintic Activity on Haemonchus contortus
    Taki, AC ; Byrne, JJ ; Wang, T ; Sleebs, BE ; Nguyen, N ; Hall, RS ; Korhonen, PK ; Chang, BCH ; Jackson, P ; Jabbar, A ; Gasser, RB (MDPI, 2021-07-01)
    Parasitic worms cause very significant diseases in animals and humans worldwide, and their control is critical to enhance health, well-being and productivity. Due to widespread drug resistance in many parasitic worms of animals globally, there is a major, continuing demand for the discovery and development of anthelmintic drugs for use to control these worms. Here, we established a practical, cost-effective and semi-automated high throughput screening (HTS) assay, which relies on the measurement of motility of larvae of the barber's pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) using infrared light-interference. Using this assay, we screened 80,500 small molecules and achieved a hit rate of 0.05%. We identified three small molecules that reproducibly inhibited larval motility and/or development (IC50 values of ~4 to 41 µM). Future work will critically assess the potential of selected hits as candidates for subsequent optimisation or repurposing against parasitic nematodes. This HTS assay has a major advantage over most previous assays in that it achieves a ≥ 10-times higher throughput (i.e., 10,000 compounds per week), and is thus suited to the screening of libraries of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of compounds for subsequent hit-to-lead optimisation or effective repurposing and development. The current assay should be adaptable to many socioeconomically important parasitic nematodes, including those that cause neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This aspect is of relevance, given the goals of the World Health Organization (WHO) Roadmap for NTDs 2021-2030, to develop more effective drugs and drug combinations to improve patient outcomes and circumvent the ineffectiveness of some current anthelmintic drugs and possible drug resistance.
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    Elucidating the molecular and developmental biology of parasitic nematodes: Moving to a multiomics paradigm
    Ma, G ; Wang, T ; Korhonen, PK ; Hofmann, A ; Sternberg, PW ; Young, ND ; Gasser, RB ; Rollinson, D ; Stothard, R (ACADEMIC PRESS LTD-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2020-01-01)
    In the past two decades, significant progress has been made in the sequencing, assembly, annotation and analyses of genomes and transcriptomes of parasitic worms of socioeconomic importance. This progress has somewhat improved our knowledge and understanding of these pathogens at the molecular level. However, compared with the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the areas of functional genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics of parasitic nematodes are still in their infancy, and there are major gaps in our knowledge and understanding of the molecular biology of parasitic nematodes. The information on signalling molecules, molecular pathways and microRNAs (miRNAs) that are known to be involved in developmental processes in C. elegans and the availability of some molecular resources (draft genomes, transcriptomes and some proteomes) for selected parasitic nematodes provide a basis to start exploring the developmental biology of parasitic nematodes. Indeed, some studies have identified molecules and pathways that might associate with developmental processes in related, parasitic nematodes, such as Haemonchus contortus (barber's pole worm). However, detailed information is often scant and ‘omics resources are limited, preventing a proper integration of ‘omic data sets and comprehensive analyses. Moreover, little is known about the functional roles of pheromones, hormones, signalling pathways and post-transcriptional/post-translational regulations in the development of key parasitic nematodes throughout their entire life cycles. Although C. elegans is an excellent model to assist molecular studies of parasitic nematodes, its use is limited when it comes to explorations of processes that are specific to parasitism within host animals. A deep understanding of parasitic nematodes, such as H. contortus, requires substantially enhanced resources and the use of integrative ‘omics approaches for analyses. The improved genome and well-established in vitro larval culture system for H. contortus provide unprecedented opportunities for comprehensive studies of the transcriptomes (mRNA and miRNA), proteomes (somatic, excretory/secretory and phosphorylated proteins) and lipidomes (e.g., polar and neutral lipids) of this nematode. Such resources should enable in-depth explorations of its developmental biology at a level, not previously possible. The main aims of this review are (i) to provide a background on the development of nematodes, with a particular emphasis on the molecular aspects involved in the dauer formation and exit in C. elegans; (ii) to critically appraise the current state of knowledge of the developmental biology of parasitic nematodes and identify key knowledge gaps; (iii) to cover salient aspects of H. contortus, with a focus on the recent advances in genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and lipidomics as well as in vitro culturing systems; (iv) to review recent advances in our knowledge and understanding of the molecular and developmental biology of H. contortus using an integrative multiomics approach, and discuss the implications of this approach for detailed explorations of signalling molecules, molecular processes and pathways likely associated with nematode development, adaptation and parasitism, and for the identification of novel intervention targets against these pathogens. Clearly, the multiomics approach established recently is readily applicable to exploring a wide range of interesting and socioeconomically significant parasitic worms (including also trematodes and cestodes) at the molecular level, and to elucidate host–parasite interactions and disease processes.