Nature communications

Omega-1 knockdown in Schistosoma mansoni eggs by lentivirus transduction reduces granuloma size in vivo.

PMID 25400038


Schistosomiasis, one of the most important neglected tropical diseases worldwide, is caused by flatworms (blood flukes or schistosomes) that live in the bloodstream of humans. The hepatointestinal form of this debilitating disease results from a chronic infection with Schistosoma mansoni or Schistosoma japonicum. No vaccine is available to prevent schistosomiasis, and treatment relies predominantly on the use of a single drug, praziquantel. In spite of considerable research effort over the years, very little is known about the complex in vivo events that lead to granuloma formation and other pathological changes during infection. Here we use, for the first time, a lentivirus-based transduction system to deliver microRNA-adapted short hairpin RNAs (shRNAmirs) into the parasite to silence and explore selected protein-encoding genes of S. mansoni implicated in the disease process. This gene-silencing system has potential to be used for functional genomic-phenomic studies of a range of socioeconomically important pathogens.