Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



PLoS Pathogens


Volume 9, Issue 3

Inclusive Pages

Article number e1003254


Anthelmintics--pharmacology; Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2--genetics; Gene Expression Regulation--drug effects; Praziquantel--pharmacology; Schistosoma japonicum--drug effects; Schistosoma japonicum--genetics


Treatment for clinical schistosomiasis has relied centrally on the broad spectrum anthelmintic praziquantel; however, there is limited information on its mode of action or the molecular response of the parasite. This paper presents a transcriptional and functional approach to defining the molecular responses of schistosomes to praziquantel. Differential gene expression in Schistosoma japonicum was investigated by transcriptome-wide microarray analysis of adult worms perfused from infected mice after 0.5 to 24 hours after oral administration of sub-lethal doses of praziquantel. Genes up-regulated initially in male parasites were associated with “Tegument/Muscle Repair” and “Lipid/Ion Regulation” functions and were followed by “Drug Resistance” and “Ion Regulation” associated genes. Prominent responses induced in female worms included up-regulation of “Ca2+ Regulation” and “Drug Resistance” genes and later by transcripts of “Detoxification” and “Pathogen Defense” mechanisms. A subset of highly over-expressed genes, with putative drug resistance/detoxification roles or Ca2+-dependant/modulatory functions, were validated by qPCR. The leading candidate among these was CamKII, a putative calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase type II delta chain. RNA interference was employed to knockdown CamKII in S. japonicum to determine the role of CamKII in the response to praziquantel. After partial-knockdown, schistosomes were analysed using IC50 concentrations (50% worm motility) and quantitative monitoring of parasite movement. When CamKII transcription was reduced by 50–69% in S. japonicum, the subsequent effect of an IC50 dosage of praziquantel was exacerbated, reducing motility from 47% to 27% in female worms and from 61% to 23% in males. These observations indicated that CamKII mitigates the effects of praziquantel, probably through stabilising Ca2+ fluxes within parasite muscles and tegument. Together, these studies comprehensively charted transcriptional changes upon exposure to praziquantel and, notably, identified CamKII as potentially central to the, as yet undefined, mode of action of praziquantel.


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Open Access