Differential gene expression, including Sjfs800, in Schistosoma japonicum females before, during, and after male-female pairing
Schistosomiasis is a prevalent but neglected tropical disease caused by parasitic trematodes of the genus Schistosoma, with the primary disease-causing species being S. haematobium, S. mansoni, and S. japonicum. Male-female pairing of schistosomes is necessary for sexual maturity and the production of a large number of eggs, which are primarily responsible for schistosomiasis dissemination and pathology. Here, we used microarray hybridization, bioinformatics, quantitative PCR, in situ hybridization, and gene silencing assays to identify genes that play critical roles in S. japonicum reproduction biology, particularly in vitellarium development, a process that affects male-female pairing, sexual maturation, and subsequent egg production. Microarray hybridization analyses generated a comprehensive set of genes differentially transcribed before and after male-female pairing. Although the transcript profiles of females were similar 16 and 18 days after host infection, marked gene expression changes were observed at 24 days. The 30 most abundantly transcribed genes on day 24 included those associated with vitellarium development. Among these, genes for female-specific 800 (fs800), eggshell precursor protein, and superoxide dismutase (cu-zn-SOD) were substantially upregulated. Our in situ hybridization results in female S. japonicum indicated that cu-zn-SOD mRNA was highest in the ovary and vitellarium, eggshell precursor protein mRNA was expressed in the ovary, ootype, and vitellarium, and Sjfs800 mRNA was observed only in the vitellarium, localized in mature vitelline cells. Knocking down the Sjfs800 gene in female S. japonicum by approximately 60% reduced the number of mature vitelline cells, decreased rates of pairing and oviposition, and decreased the number of eggs produced in each male-female pairing by about 50%. These results indicate that Sjfs800 is essential for vitellarium development and egg production in S. japonicum and suggest that Sjfs800 regulation may provide a novel approach for the prevention or treatment of schistosomiasis.
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