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Dev Genes Evol. 2005 May;215(5):261-7. Epub 2005 Mar 4.

Cracks in the shell--zooming in on eggshell formation in the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni.

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Institute for Bioinformatics, Heinrich Heine University, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.


Schistosomiasis, currently the second most common parasitic disease of humans in tropical regions is caused by the eggs of trematode worms of the genus Schistosoma. Understanding egg formation and specifically the synthesis of the eggshell comprises, consequently, a promising starting point to cure and prevent the disease. To shed light on the genetics of the latter process, we analysed the three known S. mansoni eggshell proteins P14, P19 and P48 against the background of the species' inferred proteome and of eggshell proteins identified in other trematode species. Our results suggest that eggshell formation in Schistosoma involves a multitude of different proteins organised in currently three distinct protein families (P14, P48 and P34 eggshell protein family). The first two families are of simple structure. Their respective members share a substantial degree of sequence similarity and are, to date, observed only in the genus Schistosoma. In contrast, the P34 family of eggshell proteins is complex. Its in part highly diverged members share only a conserved motif of 67-aa length on average and are detected in various trematode species. The resulting widespread occurrence of this protein motif suggests an important role during eggshell formation in trematodes. Screening more than 7,000 putative proteins of S. mansoni, we could identify six new members of the P34 protein family that are likely to be involved in eggshell formation in this species.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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