Veterinary Biosciences - Research Publications

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    Deguelin exerts potent nematocidal activity via the mitochondrial respiratory chain
    Preston, S ; Korhonen, PK ; Mouchiroud, L ; Cornaglia, M ; McGee, SL ; Young, ND ; Davis, RA ; Crawford, S ; Nowell, C ; Ansell, BRE ; Fisher, GM ; Andrews, KT ; Chang, BCH ; Gijs, MAM ; Sternberg, PW ; Auwerx, J ; Baell, J ; Hofmann, A ; Jabbar, A ; Gasser, RB (WILEY, 2017-10-01)
    As a result of limited classes of anthelmintics and an over-reliance on chemical control, there is a great need to discover new compounds to combat drug resistance in parasitic nematodes. Here, we show that deguelin, a plant-derived rotenoid, selectively and potently inhibits the motility and development of nematodes, which supports its potential as a lead candidate for drug development. Furthermore, we demonstrate that deguelin treatment significantly increases gene transcription that is associated with energy metabolism, particularly oxidative phosphorylation and mitoribosomal protein production before inhibiting motility. Mitochondrial tracking confirmed enhanced oxidative phosphorylation. In accordance, real-time measurements of oxidative phosphorylation in response to deguelin treatment demonstrated an immediate decrease in oxygen consumption in both parasitic (Haemonchus contortus) and free-living (Caenorhabditis elegans) nematodes. Consequently, we hypothesize that deguelin is exerting its toxic effect on nematodes as a modulator of oxidative phosphorylation. This study highlights the dynamic biologic response of multicellular organisms to deguelin perturbation.-Preston, S., Korhonen, P. K., Mouchiroud, L., Cornaglia, M., McGee, S. L., Young, N. D., Davis, R. A., Crawford, S., Nowell, C., Ansell, B. R. E., Fisher, G. M., Andrews, K. T., Chang, B. C. H., Gijs, M. A. M., Sternberg, P. W., Auwerx, J., Baell, J., Hofmann, A., Jabbar, A., Gasser, R. B. Deguelin exerts potent nematocidal activity via the mitochondrial respiratory chain.
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    The genome and developmental transcriptome of the strongylid nematode Haemonchus contortus
    Schwarz, EM ; Korhonen, PK ; Campbell, BE ; Young, ND ; Jex, AR ; Jabbar, A ; Hall, RS ; Mondal, A ; Howe, AC ; Pell, J ; Hofmann, A ; Boag, PR ; Zhu, X-Q ; Gregory, TR ; Loukas, A ; Williams, BA ; Antoshechkin, I ; Brown, CT ; Sternberg, PW ; Gasser, RB (BMC, 2013-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: The barber's pole worm, Haemonchus contortus, is one of the most economically important parasites of small ruminants worldwide. Although this parasite can be controlled using anthelmintic drugs, resistance against most drugs in common use has become a widespread problem. We provide a draft of the genome and the transcriptomes of all key developmental stages of H. contortus to support biological and biotechnological research areas of this and related parasites. RESULTS: The draft genome of H. contortus is 320 Mb in size and encodes 23,610 protein-coding genes. On a fundamental level, we elucidate transcriptional alterations taking place throughout the life cycle, characterize the parasite's gene silencing machinery, and explore molecules involved in development, reproduction, host-parasite interactions, immunity, and disease. The secretome of H. contortus is particularly rich in peptidases linked to blood-feeding activity and interactions with host tissues, and a diverse array of molecules is involved in complex immune responses. On an applied level, we predict drug targets and identify vaccine molecules. CONCLUSIONS: The draft genome and developmental transcriptome of H. contortus provide a major resource to the scientific community for a wide range of genomic, genetic, proteomic, metabolomic, evolutionary, biological, ecological, and epidemiological investigations, and a solid foundation for biotechnological outcomes, including new anthelmintics, vaccines and diagnostic tests. This first draft genome of any strongylid nematode paves the way for a rapid acceleration in our understanding of a wide range of socioeconomically important parasites of one of the largest nematode orders.
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    The Opisthorchis viverrini genome provides insights into life in the bile duct
    Young, ND ; Nagarajan, N ; Lin, SJ ; Korhonen, PK ; Jex, AR ; Hall, RS ; Safavi-Hemami, H ; Kaewkong, W ; Bertrand, D ; Gao, S ; Seet, Q ; Wongkham, S ; Teh, BT ; Wongkham, C ; Intapan, PM ; Maleewong, W ; Yang, X ; Hu, M ; Wang, Z ; Hofmann, A ; Sternberg, PW ; Tan, P ; Wang, J ; Gasser, RB (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2014-07-01)
    Opisthorchiasis is a neglected, tropical disease caused by the carcinogenic Asian liver fluke, Opisthorchis viverrini. This hepatobiliary disease is linked to malignant cancer (cholangiocarcinoma, CCA) and affects millions of people in Asia. No vaccine is available, and only one drug (praziquantel) is used against the parasite. Little is known about O. viverrini biology and the diseases that it causes. Here we characterize the draft genome (634.5 Mb) and transcriptomes of O. viverrini, elucidate how this fluke survives in the hostile environment within the bile duct and show that metabolic pathways in the parasite are highly adapted to a lipid-rich diet from bile and/or cholangiocytes. We also provide additional evidence that O. viverrini and other flukes secrete proteins that directly modulate host cell proliferation. Our molecular resources now underpin profound explorations of opisthorchiasis/CCA and the design of new interventions.
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    Genetic blueprint of the zoonotic pathogen Toxocara canis
    Zhu, X-Q ; Korhonen, PK ; Cai, H ; Young, ND ; Nejsum, P ; von Samson-Himmelstjerna, G ; Boag, PR ; Tan, P ; Li, Q ; Min, J ; Yang, Y ; Wang, X ; Fang, X ; Hall, RS ; Hofmann, A ; Sternberg, PW ; Jex, AR ; Gasser, RB (NATURE RESEARCH, 2015-02-01)
    Toxocara canis is a zoonotic parasite of major socioeconomic importance worldwide. In humans, this nematode causes disease (toxocariasis) mainly in the under-privileged communities in developed and developing countries. Although relatively well studied from clinical and epidemiological perspectives, to date, there has been no global investigation of the molecular biology of this parasite. Here we use next-generation sequencing to produce a draft genome and transcriptome of T. canis to support future biological and biotechnological investigations. This genome is 317 Mb in size, has a repeat content of 13.5% and encodes at least 18,596 protein-coding genes. We study transcription in a larval, as well as adult female and male stages, characterize the parasite's gene-silencing machinery, explore molecules involved in development or host-parasite interactions and predict intervention targets. The draft genome of T. canis should provide a useful resource for future molecular studies of this and other, related parasites.
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    Exploring molecular variation in Schistosoma japonicum in China
    Young, ND ; Chan, K-G ; Korhonen, PK ; Chong, TM ; Ee, R ; Mohandas, N ; Koehler, AV ; Lim, Y-L ; Hofmann, A ; Jex, AR ; Qian, B ; Chilton, NB ; Gobert, GN ; McManus, DP ; Tan, P ; Webster, BL ; Rollinson, D ; Gasser, RB (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2015-12-01)
    Schistosomiasis is a neglected tropical disease that affects more than 200 million people worldwide. The main disease-causing agents, Schistosoma japonicum, S. mansoni and S. haematobium, are blood flukes that have complex life cycles involving a snail intermediate host. In Asia, S. japonicum causes hepatointestinal disease (schistosomiasis japonica) and is challenging to control due to a broad distribution of its snail hosts and range of animal reservoir hosts. In China, extensive efforts have been underway to control this parasite, but genetic variability in S. japonicum populations could represent an obstacle to eliminating schistosomiasis japonica. Although a draft genome sequence is available for S. japonicum, there has been no previous study of molecular variation in this parasite on a genome-wide scale. In this study, we conducted the first deep genomic exploration of seven S. japonicum populations from mainland China, constructed phylogenies using mitochondrial and nuclear genomic data sets, and established considerable variation between some of the populations in genes inferred to be linked to key cellular processes and/or pathogen-host interactions. Based on the findings from this study, we propose that verifying intraspecific conservation in vaccine or drug target candidates is an important first step toward developing effective vaccines and chemotherapies against schistosomiasis.
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    The Haemonchus contortus kinome - a resource for fundamental molecular investigations and drug discovery
    Stroehlein, AJ ; Young, ND ; Korhonen, PK ; Jabbar, A ; Hofmann, A ; Sternberg, PW ; Gasser, RB (BMC, 2015-12-08)
    BACKGROUND: Protein kinases regulate a plethora of essential signalling and other biological pathways in all eukaryotic organisms, but very little is known about them in most parasitic nematodes. METHODS: Here, we defined, for the first time, the entire complement of protein kinases (kinome) encoded in the barber's pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) through an integrated analysis of transcriptomic and genomic datasets using an advanced bioinformatic workflow. RESULTS: We identified, curated and classified 432 kinases representing ten groups, 103 distinct families and 98 subfamilies. A comparison of the kinomes of H. contortus and Caenorhabditis elegans (a related, free-living nematode) revealed considerable variation in the numbers of casein kinases, tyrosine kinases and Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases, which likely relate to differences in biology, habitat and life cycle between these worms. Moreover, a suite of kinase genes was selectively transcribed in particular developmental stages of H. contortus, indicating central roles in developmental and reproductive processes. In addition, using a ranking system, drug targets (n = 13) and associated small-molecule effectors (n = 1517) were inferred. CONCLUSIONS: The H. contortus kinome will provide a useful resource for fundamental investigations of kinases and signalling pathways in this nematode, and should assist future anthelmintic discovery efforts; this is particularly important, given current drug resistance problems in parasitic nematodes.
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    Time-Dependent Transcriptional Changes in Axenic Giardia duodenalis Trophozoites
    Ansell, BRE ; McConville, MJ ; Baker, L ; Korhonen, PK ; Young, ND ; Hall, RS ; Rojas, CAA ; Svard, SG ; Gasser, RB ; Jex, AR ; Hehl, AB (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2015-12-01)
    Giardia duodenalis is the most common gastrointestinal protozoan parasite of humans and a significant contributor to the global burden of both diarrheal disease and post-infectious chronic disorders. Although G. duodenalis can be cultured axenically, significant gaps exist in our understanding of the molecular biology and metabolism of this pathogen. The present study employed RNA sequencing to characterize the mRNA transcriptome of G. duodenalis trophozoites in axenic culture, at log (48 h of growth), stationary (60 h), and declining (96 h) growth phases. Using ~400-times coverage of the transcriptome, we identified 754 differentially transcribed genes (DTGs), mainly representing two large DTG groups: 438 that were down-regulated in the declining phase relative to log and stationary phases, and 281 that were up-regulated. Differential transcription of prominent antioxidant and glycolytic enzymes implicated oxygen tension as a key factor influencing the transcriptional program of axenic trophozoites. Systematic bioinformatic characterization of numerous DTGs encoding hypothetical proteins of unknown function was achieved using structural homology searching. This powerful approach greatly informed the differential transcription analysis and revealed putative novel antioxidant-coding genes, and the presence of a near-complete two-component-like signaling system that may link cytosolic redox or metabolite sensing to the observed transcriptional changes. Motif searching applied to promoter regions of the two large DTG groups identified different putative transcription factor-binding motifs that may underpin global transcriptional regulation. This study provides new insights into the drivers and potential mediators of transcriptional variation in axenic G. duodenalis and provides context for static transcriptional studies.
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    Identification of G protein-coupled receptors in Schistosoma haematobium and S. mansoni by comparative genomics
    Campos, TDL ; Young, ND ; Korhonen, PK ; Hall, RS ; Mangiola, S ; Lonie, A ; Gasser, RB (BMC, 2014-05-27)
    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.
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    Pipeline for the identification and classification of ion channels in parasitic flatworms
    Nor, B ; Young, ND ; Korhonen, PK ; Hall, RS ; Tan, P ; Lonie, A ; Gasser, RB (BMC, 2016-03-16)
    BACKGROUND: Ion channels are well characterised in model organisms, principally because of the availability of functional genomic tools and datasets for these species. This contrasts the situation, for example, for parasites of humans and animals, whose genomic and biological uniqueness means that many genes and their products cannot be annotated. As ion channels are recognised as important drug targets in mammals, the accurate identification and classification of parasite channels could provide major prospects for defining unique targets for designing novel and specific anti-parasite therapies. Here, we established a reliable bioinformatic pipeline for the identification and classification of ion channels encoded in the genome of the cancer-causing liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini, and extended its application to related flatworms affecting humans. METHODS: We built an ion channel identification + classification pipeline (called MuSICC), employing an optimised support vector machine (SVM) model and using the Kyoto Encyclopaedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) classification system. Ion channel proteins were first identified and grouped according to amino acid sequence similarity to classified ion channels and the presence and number of ion channel-like conserved and transmembrane domains. Predicted ion channels were then classified to sub-family using a SVM model, trained using ion channel features. RESULTS: Following an evaluation of this pipeline (MuSICC), which demonstrated a classification sensitivity of 95.2 % and accuracy of 70.5 % for known ion channels, we applied it to effectively identify and classify ion channels in selected parasitic flatworms. CONCLUSIONS: MuSICC provides a practical and effective tool for the identification and classification of ion channels of parasitic flatworms, and should be applicable to a broad range of organisms that are evolutionarily distant from taxa whose ion channels are functionally characterised.
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    The small RNA complement of adult Schistosoma haematobium
    Stroehlein, AJ ; Young, ND ; Korhonen, PK ; Hall, RS ; Jex, AR ; Webster, BL ; Rollinson, D ; Brindley, PJ ; Gasser, RB ; Blair, D (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2018-05-01)
    BACKGROUND: Blood flukes of the genus Schistosoma cause schistosomiasis-a neglected tropical disease (NTD) that affects more than 200 million people worldwide. Studies of schistosome genomes have improved our understanding of the molecular biology of flatworms, but most of them have focused largely on protein-coding genes. Small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs) have been explored in selected schistosome species and are suggested to play essential roles in the post-transcriptional regulation of genes, and in modulating flatworm-host interactions. However, genome-wide small RNA data are currently lacking for key schistosomes including Schistosoma haematobium-the causative agent of urogenital schistosomiasis of humans. METHODOLOGY: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and other sncRNAs of male and female adults of S. haematobium and small RNA transcription levels were explored by deep sequencing, genome mapping and detailed bioinformatic analyses. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In total, 89 transcribed miRNAs were identified in S. haematobium-a similar complement to those reported for the congeners S. mansoni and S. japonicum. Of these miRNAs, 34 were novel, with no homologs in other schistosomes. Most miRNAs (n = 64) exhibited sex-biased transcription, suggestive of roles in sexual differentiation, pairing of adult worms and reproductive processes. Of the sncRNAs that were not miRNAs, some related to the spliceosome (n = 21), biogenesis of other RNAs (n = 3) or ribozyme functions (n = 16), whereas most others (n = 3798) were novel ('orphans') with unknown functions. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first genome-wide sncRNA resource for S. haematobium, extending earlier studies of schistosomes. The present work should facilitate the future curation and experimental validation of sncRNA functions in schistosomes to enhance our understanding of post-transcriptional gene regulation and of the roles that sncRNAs play in schistosome reproduction, development and parasite-host cross-talk.