Microbiology

Sexual development in schistosomes

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Science  09 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6304, pp. 1110
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6304.1110-a

Gonad development in female schistosome worms relies on pairing with males.

PHOTO: DAVID SCHARF/SCIENCE SOURCE

Schistosomiasis is a severe parasitic disease that affects ~200 million people globally. The flatworms that cause the disease have a complex life cycle in which, unusually, male and female worms must pair to produce eggs. Eggs trapped in host body tissues are the main cause of pathology. Lu et al. used RNA-sequencing analysis to show that gonad development in females requires pairing and occurs when the juvenile worms pass through the host's liver. They also found that neuropeptidergic signaling stimulates female gonad development. At present, there is only one safe treatment for schistosomiasis, and thus elucidating the details of sexual development in schistosomes may offer valuable targets for drugs and vaccines.

Sci. Rep. 6, 31150 (2016).

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