Robb SM, Gotting K, Ross E, Sánchez Alvarado A Genesis 2015 Jul; PMID: 26138588 Abstract Planarians have emerged as excellent models for the study of key biological processes such as
Zhu SJ, Hallows SE, Currie KW, Xu C, Pearson BJ Elife 2015;4 PMID: 26114597 Abstract Neoblasts are adult stem cells (ASCs) in planarians that sustain cell replacement during homeostasis and
Moguel B, Bobes RJ, Carrero JC, Laclette JP Biomed Res Int 2015;2015:206161 PMID: 26090388 Abstract Flatworms are one of the most diverse groups within Lophotrochozoa with more than 20,000 known
Rinaldi G, Young ND, Honeycutt JD, Brindley PJ, Gasser RB, Hsieh MH J. Infect. Dis. 2015 Mar;211(6):861-9 PMID: 25240172 Abstract Approximately 200,000,000 people have schistosomiasis (schistosome infection). Among the schistosomes,
Zarowiecki M, Berriman M Parasitology 2015 Feb;142 Suppl 1:S85-97 PMID: 25482650 Abstract The genomes of more than 20 helminths have now been sequenced. Here we perform a meta-analysis of all
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Robb SM, Gotting K, Ross E, Sánchez Alvarado A
Genesis 2015 Jul;
Planarians have emerged as excellent models for the study of key biological processes such as stem cell function and regulation, axial polarity specification, regeneration, and tissue homeostasis among others. The most widely used organism for these studies is the free-living flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea. In 2007, the Schmidtea mediterranea Genome Database (SmedGD) was first released to provide a much needed resource for the small, but growing planarian community. SmedGD 1.0 has been a depository for genome sequence, a draft assembly, and related experimental data (e.g., RNAi phenotypes, in situ hybridization images, and differential gene expression results). We report here a comprehensive update to SmedGD (SmedGD 2.0) that aims to expand its role as an interactive community resource. The new database includes more recent, and up-to-date transcription data, provides tools that enhance interconnectivity between different genome assemblies and transcriptomes, including next-generation assemblies for both the sexual and asexual biotypes of S. mediterranea. SmedGD 2.0 (http://smedgd.stowers.org) not only provides significantly improved gene annotations, but also tools for data sharing, attributes that will help both the planarian and biomedical communities to more efficiently mine the genomics and transcriptomics of S. mediterranea. genesis, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Zhu SJ, Hallows SE, Currie KW, Xu C, Pearson BJ
Neoblasts are adult stem cells (ASCs) in planarians that sustain cell replacement during homeostasis and regeneration of any missing tissue. While numerous studies have examined genes underlying neoblast pluripotency, molecular pathways driving postmitotic fates remain poorly defined. In this study, we used transcriptional profiling of irradiation-sensitive and irradiation-insensitive cell populations and RNA interference (RNAi) functional screening to uncover markers and regulators of postmitotic progeny. We identified 32 new markers distinguishing two main epithelial progenitor populations and a planarian homolog to the MEX3 RNA-binding protein (Smed-mex3-1) as a key regulator of lineage progression. mex3-1 was required for generating differentiated cells of multiple lineages, while restricting the size of the stem cell compartment. We also demonstrated the utility of using mex3-1(RNAi) animals to identify additional progenitor markers. These results identified mex3-1 as a cell fate regulator, broadly required for differentiation, and suggest that mex3-1 helps to mediate the balance between ASC self-renewal and commitment.
Moguel B, Bobes RJ, Carrero JC, Laclette JP
Biomed Res Int 2015;2015:206161
Flatworms are one of the most diverse groups within Lophotrochozoa with more than 20,000 known species, distributed worldwide in different ecosystems, from the free-living organisms in the seas and lakes to highly specialized parasites living in a variety of hosts, including humans. Several infections caused by flatworms are considered major neglected diseases affecting countries in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. For several decades, a particular interest on free-living flatworms was due to their ability to regenerate considerable portions of the body, implying the presence of germ cells that could be important for medicine. The relevance of reverse genetics for this group is clear; understanding the phenotypic characteristics of specific genes will shed light on developmental traits of free-living and parasite worms. The genetic manipulation of flatworms will allow learning more about the mechanisms for tissue regeneration, designing new and more effective anthelmintic drugs, and explaining the host-parasite molecular crosstalk so far partially inaccessible for experimentation. In this review, availability of transfection techniques is analyzed across flatworms, from the initial transient achievements to the stable manipulations now developed for free-living and parasite species.
Rinaldi G, Young ND, Honeycutt JD, Brindley PJ, Gasser RB, Hsieh MH
J. Infect. Dis. 2015 Mar;211(6):861-9
Approximately 200,000,000 people have schistosomiasis (schistosome infection). Among the schistosomes, Schistosoma haematobium is responsible for the most infections, which are present in 110 million people globally, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. This pathogen causes an astonishing breadth of sequelae: hematuria, anemia, dysuria, stunting, uremia, bladder cancer, urosepsis, and human immunodeficiency virus coinfection. Refined estimates of the impact of schistosomiasis on quality of life suggest that it rivals malaria. Despite S. haematobium’s importance, relevant research has lagged. Here, we review advances that will deepen knowledge of S. haematobium. Three sets of breakthroughs will accelerate discoveries in the pathogenesis of urogenital schistosomiasis (UGS): (1) comparative genomics, (2) the development of functional genomic tools, and (3) the use of animal models to explore S. haematobium-host interactions. Comparative genomics for S. haematobium is feasible, given the sequencing of multiple schistosome genomes. Features of the S. haematobium genome that are conserved among platyhelminth species and others that are unique to S. haematobium may provide novel diagnostic and drug targets for UGS. Although there are technical hurdles, the integrated use of these approaches can elucidate host-pathogen interactions during this infection and can inform the development of techniques for investigating schistosomes in their human and snail hosts and the development of therapeutics and vaccines for the control of UGS.
Zarowiecki M, Berriman M
Parasitology 2015 Feb;142 Suppl 1:S85-97
The genomes of more than 20 helminths have now been sequenced. Here we perform a meta-analysis of all sequenced genomes of nematodes and Platyhelminthes, and attempt to address the question of what are the defining characteristics of helminth genomes. We find that parasitic worms lack systems for surface antigenic variation, instead maintaining infections using their surfaces as the first line of defence against the host immune system, with several expanded gene families of genes associated with the surface and tegument. Parasite excretory/secretory products evolve rapidly, and proteases even more so, with each parasite exhibiting unique modifications of its protease repertoire. Endoparasitic flatworms show striking losses of metabolic capabilities, not matched by nematodes. All helminths do however exhibit an overall reduction in auxiliary metabolism (biogenesis of co-factors and vitamins). Overall, the prevailing pattern is that there are few commonalities between the genomes of independently evolved parasitic worms, with each parasite having undergone specific adaptations for their particular niche.
Functional analysis of Girardia tigrina transcriptome seeds pipeline for anthelmintic target discovery
Wheeler NJ, Agbedanu PN, Kimber MJ, Ribeiro P, Day TA, Zamanian M
Parasit Vectors 2015 Jan;8(1):34
BackgroundNeglected diseases caused by helminth infections impose a massive hindrance to progress in the developing world. While basic research on parasitic flatworms (platyhelminths) continues to expand, researchers have yet to broadly adopt a free-living model to complement the study of these important parasites.MethodsWe report the high-coverage sequencing (RNA-Seq) and assembly of the transcriptome of the planarian Girardia tigrina across a set of dynamic conditions. The assembly was annotated and extensive orthology analysis was used to seed a pipeline for the rational prioritization and validation of putative anthelmintic targets. A small number of targets conserved between parasitic and free-living flatworms were comparatively interrogated.Results240 million paired-end reads were assembled de novo to produce a strictly filtered predicted proteome consisting of over 22,000 proteins. Gene Ontology annotations were extended to 16,467 proteins. 2,693 sequences were identified in orthology groups spanning flukes, tapeworms and planaria, with 441 highlighted as belonging to druggable protein families. Chemical inhibitors were used on three targets in pharmacological screens using both planaria and schistosomula, revealing distinct motility phenotypes that were shown to correlate with planarian RNAi phenotypes.ConclusionsThis work provides the first comprehensive and annotated sequence resource for the model planarian G. tigrina, alongside a prioritized list of candidate drug targets conserved among parasitic and free-living flatworms. As proof of principle, we show that a simple RNAi and pharmacology pipeline in the more convenient planarian model system can inform parasite biology and serve as an efficient screening tool for the identification of lucrative anthelmintic targets.
A lophotrochozoan-specific nuclear hormone receptor is required for reproductive system development in the planarian
Tharp ME, Collins JJ, Newmark PA
Dev. Biol. 2014 Dec;396(1):150-7
Germ cells of sexually reproducing organisms receive an array of cues from somatic tissues that instruct developmental processes. Although the nature of these signals differs amongst organisms, the importance of germline-soma interactions is a common theme. Recently, peptide hormones from the nervous system have been shown to regulate germ cell development in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea; thus, we sought to investigate a second class of hormones with a conserved role in reproduction, the lipophilic hormones. In order to study these signals, we identified a set of putative lipophilic hormone receptors, known as nuclear hormone receptors, and analyzed their functions in reproductive development. We found one gene, nhr-1, belonging to a small class of functionally uncharacterized lophotrochozoan-specific receptors, to be essential for the development of differentiated germ cells. Upon nhr-1 knockdown, germ cells in the testes and ovaries fail to mature, and remain as undifferentiated germline stem cells. Further analysis revealed that nhr-1 mRNA is expressed in the accessory reproductive organs and is required for their development, suggesting that this transcription factor functions cell non-autonomously in regulating germ cell development. Our studies identify a role for nuclear hormone receptors in planarian reproductive maturation and reinforce the significance of germline-soma interactions in sexual reproduction across metazoans.
Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2014 Dec;4(3):301-9
Praziquantel (PZQ) is essentially the only drug currently available for treatment and control of schistosomiasis, a disease affecting hundreds of millions worldwide. Though highly effective overall, PZQ has limitations, most notably its significant lack of activity against immature schistosomes. Furthermore, the availability of only a single drug for a disease of this magnitude makes reports of PZQ-resistant isolates particularly troubling. ATP-binding cassette (ABC) multidrug transporters such as P-glycoprotein (Pgp; ABCB1) are efflux transporters that underlie multidrug resistance (MDR); changes in their expression or structure are also associated with drug resistance in parasites, including helminths. This review will discuss the role these transporters might play in modulating schistosome susceptibility to PZQ, and the implications for developing new or repurposed treatments that enhance the efficacy of PZQ. However, in addition to influencing drug susceptibility, ABC transporters play important roles in several critical physiological functions such as excretion and maintenance of permeability barriers. They also transport signaling molecules with high affinity, and several lines of evidence implicate mammalian transporters in a diverse array of physiological functions, including regulation of immune responses. Like their mammalian counterparts, schistosome ABC transporters appear to be involved in functions critical to the parasite, including excretory activity and reproduction, and we hypothesize that they underlie at least some aspects of parasite-host interactions. Thus, in addition to their potential as targets for enhancers of PZQ susceptibility, these transporters might also serve as candidate targets for agents that disrupt the parasite life cycle and act as antischistosomals on their own.