PerspectiveMicrobiology

Transformative tools for parasitic flatworms

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Science  25 Sep 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6511, pp. 1562-1564
DOI: 10.1126/science.abe0710

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Summary

Schistosomes, a type of parasitic flatworm, are complex multicellular pathogens with an oversized and probably underestimated impact on human health. Schistosomiasis is one of the “neglected” tropical diseases, named in part because of a perceived lack of tools to probe parasite biology. On pages 1649 and 1644 of this issue, Wang et al. (1) and Wendt et al. (2), respectively, show that this neglect is unwarranted. With creative use of postgenomic and parasitological approaches, these authors uncover previously unknown aspects of schistosome biology, highlight avenues for intervention, and provide new resources for the field. Wang et al. report a loss-of-function screen that reveals numerous essential genes and identify small-molecule inhibitors of two kinases required for muscle development. Wendt et al. unveil a single-cell atlas for adult schistosomes, unearthing a gut stem cell lineage that can be targeted to eliminate egg production and pathology.

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