Comparative transcriptomics from intestinal cells of permissive and non-permissive hosts during infection reveals unique signatures of protection and host specificity

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Journal Article

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Ancylostoma ceylanicum; differential expression; hookworm; host specificity; rodents


Soil-transmitted nematodes (STNs) place a tremendous burden on health and economics worldwide with an estimate of at least 1.5 billion people, or 24% of the population, being infected with at least 1 STN globally. Children and pregnant women carry the heavier pathological burden, and disease caused by the blood-feeding worm in the intestine can result in anaemia and delays in physical and intellectual development. These parasites are capable of infecting and reproducing in various host species, but what determines host specificity remains unanswered. Identifying the molecular determinants of host specificity would provide a crucial breakthrough towards understanding the biology of parasitism and could provide attractive targets for intervention. To investigate specificity mechanisms, members of the hookworm genus provide a powerful system as they range from strict specialists to generalists. Using transcriptomics, differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in permissive (hamster) and non-permissive (mouse) hosts at different early time points during infection with were examined. Analysis of the data has identified unique immune responses in mice, as well as potential permissive signals in hamsters. Specifically, immune pathways associated with resistance to infection are upregulated in the non-permissive host, providing a possible protection mechanism that is absent in the permissive host. Furthermore, unique signatures of host specificity that may inform the parasite that it has invaded a permissive host were identified. These data provide novel insight into the tissue-specific gene expression differences between permissive and non-permissive hosts in response to hookworm infection.


Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine