The genomic basis of parasitism in the Strongyloides clade of nematodes

Hunt, V L and Tsai, I J and Coghlan, A and Reid, A J and Holroyd, N and Foth, B J and Tracey, A and Cotton, J A and Stanley, E J and Beasley, H and Bennett, H M and Brooks, K and Harsha, B and Kajitani, R and Kulkarni, A and Harbecke, D and Nagayasu, E and Nichol, S and Ogura, Y and Quail, M A and Randle, N and Xia, D and Brattig, N W and Soblik, H and Ribeiro, D M and Sanchez-Flores, A and Hayashi, T and Itoh, T and Denver, D R and Grant, W and Stoltzfus, J D and Lok, J B and Murayama, H and Wastling, J and Streit, A and Kikuchi, T and Viney, M and Berriman, M (2016) The genomic basis of parasitism in the Strongyloides clade of nematodes. Nature Genetics, 48 (3). pp. 299-307.

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Abstract

Soil-transmitted nematodes, including the Strongyloides genus, cause one of the most prevalent neglected tropical diseases. Here we compare the genomes of four Strongyloides species, including the human pathogen Strongyloides stercoralis, and their close relatives that are facultatively parasitic (Parastrongyloides trichosuri) and free-living (Rhabditophanes sp. KR3021). A significant paralogous expansion of key gene families—families encoding astacin-like and SCP/TAPS proteins—is associated with the evolution of parasitism in this clade. Exploiting the unique Strongyloides life cycle, we compare the transcriptomes of the parasitic and free-living stages and find that these same gene families are upregulated in the parasitic stages, underscoring their role in nematode parasitism.