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Nat Genet. 2014 Jul;46(7):693-700. doi: 10.1038/ng.3010. Epub 2014 Jun 15.

Whipworm genome and dual-species transcriptome analyses provide molecular insights into an intimate host-parasite interaction.

Author information

Parasite Genomics, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1SA, UK.
Division of Parasitology, Department of Infectious Disease, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki 889-1692, Japan.
Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT, UK.
Statistical Genetics, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1SA, UK.
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool L3 5QA, UK.
Centro de Investigación en Enfermedades Infecciosas, Escuela de Biología, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador.
Contributed equally


Whipworms are common soil-transmitted helminths that cause debilitating chronic infections in man. These nematodes are only distantly related to Caenorhabditis elegans and have evolved to occupy an unusual niche, tunneling through epithelial cells of the large intestine. We report here the whole-genome sequences of the human-infective Trichuris trichiura and the mouse laboratory model Trichuris muris. On the basis of whole-transcriptome analyses, we identify many genes that are expressed in a sex- or life stage-specific manner and characterize the transcriptional landscape of a morphological region with unique biological adaptations, namely, bacillary band and stichosome, found only in whipworms and related parasites. Using RNA sequencing data from whipworm-infected mice, we describe the regulated T helper 1 (TH1)-like immune response of the chronically infected cecum in unprecedented detail. In silico screening identified numerous new potential drug targets against trichuriasis. Together, these genomes and associated functional data elucidate key aspects of the molecular host-parasite interactions that define chronic whipworm infection.

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