Hsp12.6 expression is inducible by host immunity in adult worms of the parasitic nematode Nippostrongylus brasiliensis

PLoS One. 2011 Mar 23;6(3):e18141. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018141.


Heat shock proteins (Hsp) are a family of stress-inducible molecular chaperones that play multiple roles in a wide variety of animals. However, the roles of Hsps in parasitic nematodes remain largely unknown. To elucidate the roles of Hsps in the survival and longevity of nematodes, particularly at the 2 most critical stages in their lifecycle, the infective-L3 stage and adult stage, which is subjected to host-derived immunological pressure, we examined the temporal gene transcription patterns of Hsp12.6, Hsp20, Hsp70, and Hsp90 throughout the developmental course of the nematode Nippostrongylus brasiliensis by reverse transcriptase real-time PCR. Nb-Hsp70 and Nb-Hsp90 expression were observed throughout the nematode's lifecycle, while the expression of Nb-Hsp20 was restricted to adults. Interestingly, Nb-Hsp12.6 showed a biphasic temporal expression pattern; i.e., it was expressed in infective-L3 larvae and in adults during worm expulsion from immunocompetent rats. However, the activation of Nb-Hsp12.6 in adult worms was aborted when they infected permissive athymic-rnu/rnu rats and was only marginal when they infected mast-cell-deficient Ws/Ws rats, which exhibited a low response of rat mast cell protease (RMCP) II and resistin-like molecule (Relm)-β expression compared to those observed in immunocompetent rats. Moreover, the activation of Nb-Hsp12.6 was reversed when adult worms were transplanted into the naive rat intestine. These features of Nb-Hsp12.6, the expression of which is not only stage-specific in infective-L3, but is also inducible by mucosal immunity in adults, have implications for the survival strategies of parasitic nematodes in deleterious environmental conditions both outside and inside the host.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Helminth Proteins / metabolism*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / genetics
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / immunology*
  • Immunity / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / parasitology
  • Larva / metabolism
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Nippostrongylus / genetics*
  • Nippostrongylus / growth & development
  • Parasites / genetics*
  • Rats
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Time Factors


  • Actins
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Helminth Proteins