Ancylostoma caninum: the finger cell neurons mediate thermotactic behavior by infective larvae of the dog hookworm

Exp Parasitol. 2001 Feb;97(2):70-6. doi: 10.1006/expr.2000.4575.


Bhopale, V. M., Kupprion, E. K., Ashton, F. T., Boston, R., and Schad, G. A. 2001. Ancylostoma caninum: The finger cell neurons mediate thermotactic behavior by infective larvae of the dog hookworm. Experimental Parasitology 97, 70-76. In the amphids (anteriorly positioned, paired sensilla) of the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the so-called finger cells (AFD), a pair of neurons, each of which ends in a cluster of microvilli-like projections, are known to be the primary thermoreceptors. A similar neuron pair in the amphids of the parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus is also known to be thermoreceptive. The hookworm of dogs, Ancylostoma caninum, has apparent structural homologs of finger cells in its amphids. The neuroanatomy of the amphids of A. caninum and H. contortus is strikingly similar, and the amphidial cell bodies in the lateral ganglia of the latter nematode have been identified and mapped. When the lateral ganglia of first-stage larvae (L1) of A. caninum are examined with differential interference contrast microscopy, positional homologs of the recognized amphidial cell bodies in the lateral ganglia of H. contortus L1 are readily identified in A. caninum. The amphidial neurons in A. caninum were consequently given the same names as those of their apparent homologs in H. contortus. It was hypothesized that the finger cell neurons (AFD) might mediate thermotaxis by the skin-penetrating infective larvae (L3) of A. caninum. Laser microbeam ablation experiments with A. caninum were conducted, using the H. contortus L1 neuronal map as a guide. A. caninum L1 were anesthetized and the paired AFD class neurons were ablated. The larvae were then cultured to L3 and assayed for thermotaxis on a thermal gradient. L3 with ablated AFD-class neuron pairs showed significantly reduced thermotaxis compared to control groups. The thermoreceptive function of the AFD-class neurons associates this neuron pair with the host-finding process of the A. caninum infective larva and shows functional homology with the neurons of class AFD in C. elegans and in H. contortus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ancylostoma / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Larva / physiology
  • Movement / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Thermoreceptors / physiology*