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Parasitology. 2015 Dec;142(14):1673-81. doi: 10.1017/S0031182015001134. Epub 2015 Oct 6.

Fasciola hepatica mucin-encoding gene: expression, variability and its potential relevance in host-parasite relationship.

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Departamento de Biologia Molecular e Biotecnologia,Instituto de Biociências e Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biologia Celular e Molecular, Centro de Biotecnologia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, UFRGS,Porto Alegre,Brazil.
Unidad de Biología Parasitaria,Instituto de Biología,Facultad de Ciencias,Universidad de la República, UDELAR,Montevideo,Uruguay.
Departamento de Genética, Facultad de Medicina,Universidad de la República, UDELAR,Montevideo,Uruguay.


Fasciola hepatica is the causative agent of fasciolosis, a zoonosis with significant impact both in human and animal health. Understanding the basic processes of parasite biology, especially those related to interactions with its host, will contribute to control F. hepatica infections and hence liver pathology. Mucins have been described as important mediators for parasite establishment within its host, due to their key roles in immune evasion. In F. hepatica, mucin expression is upregulated in the mammalian invasive newly excysted juvenile (NEJ) stage in comparison with the adult stage. Here, we performed sequencing of mucin cDNAs prepared from NEJ RNA, resulting in six different cDNAs clusters. The differences are due to the presence of a tandem repeated sequence of 66 bp encoded by different exons. Two groups of apomucins one with three and the other with four repeats, with 459 and 393 bp respectively, were identified. These cDNAs have open reading frames encoding Ser-Thr enriched proteins with an N-terminal signal peptide, characteristic of apomucin backbone. We cloned a 4470 bp gene comprising eight exons and seven introns that encodes all the cDNA variants identified in NEJs. By real time polymerase chain reaction and high-resolution melting approaches of individual flukes we infer that fhemuc-1 is a single-copy gene, with at least two different alleles. Our data suggest that both gene polymorphism and alternative splicing might account for apomucin variability in the fhemuc-1 gene that is upregulated in NEJ invasive stage. The relevance of this variation in host-parasite interplay is discussed.


F. hepatica; genetic variability; mucins

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