Transgenesis in Strongyloides and related parasitic nematodes: historical perspectives, current functional genomic applications and progress towards gene disruption and editing.

PMID 27000743


Transgenesis for Strongyloides and Parastrongyloides was accomplished in 2006 and is based on techniques derived for Caenorhabditis elegans over two decades earlier. Adaptation of these techniques has been possible because Strongyloides and related parasite genera carry out at least one generation of free-living development, with adult males and females residing in soil contaminated by feces from an infected host. Transgenesis in this group of parasites is accomplished by microinjecting DNA constructs into the syncytia of the distal gonads of free-living females. In Strongyloides stercoralis, plasmid-encoded transgenes are expressed in promoter-regulated fashion in the F1 generation following gene transfer but are silenced subsequently. Stable inheritance and expression of transgenes in S. stercoralis requires their integration into the genome, and stable lines have been derived from integrants created using the piggyBac transposon system. More direct investigations of gene function involving expression of mutant transgene constructs designed to alter intracellular trafficking and developmental regulation have shed light on the function of the insulin-regulated transcription factor Ss-DAF-16. Transgenesis in Strongyloides and Parastrongyloides opens the possibility of powerful new methods for genome editing and transcriptional manipulation in this group of parasites. Proof of principle for one of these, CRISPR/Cas9, is presented in this review.