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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2008;2(10):e323. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000323. Epub 2008 Oct 22.

Use of genomic DNA as an indirect reference for identifying gender-associated transcripts in morphologically identical, but chromosomally distinct, Schistosoma mansoni cercariae.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.



The use of DNA microarray technology to study global Schistosoma gene expression has led to the rapid identification of novel biological processes, pathways or associations. Implementation of standardized DNA microarray protocols across laboratories would assist maximal interpretation of generated datasets and extend productive application of this technology.


Utilizing a new Schistosoma mansoni oligonucleotide DNA microarray composed of 37,632 elements, we show that schistosome genomic DNA (gDNA) hybridizes with less variation compared to complex mixed pools of S. mansoni cDNA material (R = 0.993 for gDNA compared to R = 0.956 for cDNA during 'self versus self' hybridizations). Furthermore, these effects are species-specific, with S. japonicum or Mus musculus gDNA failing to bind significantly to S. mansoni oligonucleotide DNA microarrays (e.g R = 0.350 when S. mansoni gDNA is co-hybridized with S. japonicum gDNA). Increased median fluorescent intensities (209.9) were also observed for DNA microarray elements hybridized with S. mansoni gDNA compared to complex mixed pools of S. mansoni cDNA (112.2). Exploiting these valuable characteristics, S. mansoni gDNA was used in two-channel DNA microarray hybridization experiments as a common reference for indirect identification of gender-associated transcripts in cercariae, a schistosome life-stage in which there is no overt sexual dimorphism. This led to the identification of 2,648 gender-associated transcripts. When compared to the 780 gender-associated transcripts identified by hybridization experiments utilizing a two-channel direct method (co-hybridization of male and female cercariae cDNA), indirect methods using gDNA were far superior in identifying greater quantities of differentially expressed transcripts. Interestingly, both methods identified a concordant subset of 188 male-associated and 156 female-associated cercarial transcripts, respectively. Gene ontology classification of these differentially expressed transcripts revealed a greater diversity of categories in male cercariae. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis confirmed the DNA microarray results and supported the reliability of this platform for identifying gender-associated transcripts.


Schistosome gDNA displays characteristics highly suitable for the comparison of two-channel DNA microarray results obtained from experiments conducted independently across laboratories. The schistosome transcripts identified here demonstrate, for the first time, that gender-associated patterns of expression are already well established in the morphologically identical, but chromosomally distinct, cercariae stage.

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