BACKGROUND: Hookworm infection is one of the most important neglected diseases in developing countries, with approximately 1 billion people infected worldwide. To better understand hookworm biology and nematode parasitism, the present study generated a near complete transcriptome of the canine hookworm Ancylostoma caninum to a very high coverage using high throughput technology, and compared it to those of the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the parasite Brugia malayi.
RESULTS: The generated transcripts from four developmental stages, infective L3, serum stimulated L3, adult male and adult female, covered 93% of the A. caninum transcriptome. The broad diversity among nematode transcriptomes was confirmed, and an impact of parasitic adaptation on transcriptome diversity was inferred. Intra-population analysis showed that A. caninum has higher coding sequence diversity than humans. Examining the developmental expression profiles of A. caninum revealed major transitions in gene expression from larval stages to adult. Adult males expressed the highest number of selectively expressed genes, but adult female expressed the highest number of selective parasitism-related genes. Genes related to parasitism adaptation and A. caninum specific genes exhibited more expression selectivity while those conserved in nematodes tend to be consistently expressed. Parasitism related genes were expressed more selectively in adult male and female worms. The comprehensive analysis of digital expression profiles along with transcriptome comparisons enabled identification of a set of parasitism genes encoding secretory proteins in animal parasitic nematode.
CONCLUSIONS: This study validated the usage of deep sequencing for gene expression profiling. Parasitic adaptation of the canine hookworm is related to its diversity and developmental dynamics. This comprehensive comparative genomic and expression study substantially improves our understanding of the basic biology and parasitism of hookworms and, is expected, in the long run, to accelerate research toward development of vaccines and novel anthelmintics.