The transcriptome of Trichuris suis--first molecular insights into a parasite with curative properties for key immune diseases of humans

PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23590. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023590. Epub 2011 Aug 24.


Background: Iatrogenic infection of humans with Trichuris suis (a parasitic nematode of swine) is being evaluated or promoted as a biological, curative treatment of immune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and ulcerative colitis, in humans. Although it is understood that short-term T. suis infection in people with such diseases usually induces a modified Th2-immune response, nothing is known about the molecules in the parasite that induce this response.

Methodology/principal findings: As a first step toward filling the gaps in our knowledge of the molecular biology of T. suis, we characterised the transcriptome of the adult stage of this nematode employing next-generation sequencing and bioinformatic techniques. A total of ∼65,000,000 reads were generated and assembled into ∼20,000 contiguous sequences ( = contigs); ∼17,000 peptides were predicted and classified based on homology searches, protein motifs and gene ontology and biological pathway mapping.

Conclusions: These analyses provided interesting insights into a number of molecular groups, particularly predicted excreted/secreted molecules (n = 1,288), likely to be involved in the parasite-host interactions, and also various molecules (n = 120) linked to chemokine, T-cell receptor and TGF-β signalling as well as leukocyte transendothelial migration and natural killer cell-mediated cytotoxicity, which are likely to be immuno-regulatory or -modulatory in the infected host. This information provides a conceptual framework within which to test the immunobiological basis for the curative effect of T. suis infection in humans against some immune diseases. Importantly, the T. suis transcriptome characterised herein provides a curated resource for detailed studies of the immuno-molecular biology of this parasite, and will underpin future genomic and proteomic explorations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Helminth Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / therapy*
  • Immunomodulation / genetics
  • Models, Immunological
  • Parasites / genetics*
  • Parasites / growth & development
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Transcriptome / genetics*
  • Trichuris / genetics*
  • Trichuris / growth & development


  • Helminth Proteins