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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2009 Jun 23;3(6):e464. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000464.

A novel biological activity of praziquantel requiring voltage-operated Ca2+ channel beta subunits: subversion of flatworm regenerative polarity.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and The Stem Cell Institute, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minnesota, United States of America.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Approximately 200 million people worldwide harbour parasitic flatworm infections that cause schistosomiasis. A single drug-praziquantel (PZQ)-has served as the mainstay pharmacotherapy for schistosome infections since the 1980s. However, the relevant in vivo target(s) of praziquantel remain undefined.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

Here, we provide fresh perspective on the molecular basis of praziquantel efficacy in vivo consequent to the discovery of a remarkable action of PZQ on regeneration in a species of free-living flatworm (Dugesia japonica). Specifically, PZQ caused a robust (100% penetrance) and complete duplication of the entire anterior-posterior axis during flatworm regeneration to yield two-headed organisms with duplicated, integrated central nervous and organ systems. Exploiting this phenotype as a readout for proteins impacting praziquantel efficacy, we demonstrate that PZQ-evoked bipolarity was selectively ablated by in vivo RNAi of voltage-operated calcium channel (VOCC) beta subunits, but not by knockdown of a VOCC alpha subunit. At higher doses of PZQ, knockdown of VOCC beta subunits also conferred resistance to PZQ in lethality assays.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study identifies a new biological activity of the antischistosomal drug praziquantel on regenerative polarity in a species of free-living flatworm. Ablation of the bipolar regenerative phenotype evoked by PZQ via in vivo RNAi of VOCC beta subunits provides the first genetic evidence implicating a molecular target crucial for in vivo PZQ activity and supports the 'VOCC hypothesis' of PZQ efficacy. Further, in terms of regenerative biology and Ca(2+) signaling, these data highlight a novel role for voltage-operated Ca(2+) entry in regulating in vivo stem cell differentiation and regenerative patterning.

PMID:
19554083
PMCID:
PMC2694594
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pntd.0000464
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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