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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47001. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047001. Epub 2012 Oct 10.

Characterization of microRNAs from Orientobilharzia turkestanicum, a neglected blood fluke of human and animal health significance.

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State Key Laboratory of Veterinary Etiological Biology, Key Laboratory of Veterinary Parasitology of Gansu Province, Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu Province, People's Republic of China.


The neglected blood flukes Orientobilharzia spp. belonging to the Platyhelminthes, infect animals in a number of countries of the world, and cause cercarial dermatitis in humans, as well as significant diseases and even death in economically-important animals. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are now considered to be a key mechanism of gene regulation. Herein, we investigated the global miRNA expression profile of adult O. turkestanicum using next-generation sequencing technology and real-time quantitative PCR, to gain further information on the role of these molecules in host invasion and the parasitic lifestyle of this species. A total of 13.48 million high quality reads were obtained out of 13.78 million raw sequencing reads, with 828 expressed miRNAs identified. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the miRNAs of O. turkestanicum were still rapidly evolving and there was a "directed mutation" pattern compared with that of other species. Target mRNAs were successfully predicted to 518 miRNAs. These targets included energy metabolism, transcription initiation factors, signal transduction, growth factor receptors. miRNAs targeting egg proteins, including major egg antigen p40, and heat shock proteins were also found. Enrichment analysis indicated enrichment for mRNAs involved in catalytic, binding, transcription regulators and translation regulators. The present study represented the first large-scale characterization of O. turkestanicum miRNAs, which provides novel resources for better understanding the complex biology of this zoonotic parasite, which, in turn, has implications for the effective control of the disease it causes.

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