BACKGROUND: Hookworms, infecting over one billion people, are the mostly closely related major human parasites to the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Applying genomics techniques to these species, we analyzed 3,840 and 3,149 genes from Ancylostoma caninum and A. ceylanicum.
RESULTS: Transcripts originated from libraries representing infective L3 larva, stimulated L3, arrested L3, and adults. Most genes are represented in single stages including abundant transcripts like hsp-20 in infective L3 and vit-3 in adults. Over 80% of the genes have homologs in C. elegans, and nearly 30% of these were with observable RNA interference phenotypes. Homologies were identified to nematode-specific and clade V specific gene families. To study the evolution of hookworm genes, 574 A. caninum/A. ceylanicum orthologs were identified, all of which were found to be under purifying selection with distribution ratios of nonsynonymous to synonymous amino acid substitutions similar to that reported for C. elegans/C. briggsae orthologs. The phylogenetic distance between A. caninum and A. ceylanicum is almost identical to that for C. elegans/C. briggsae.
CONCLUSION: The genes discovered should substantially accelerate research toward better understanding of the parasites' basic biology as well as new therapies including vaccines and novel anthelmintics.