RNA-mediated gene suppression and in vitro culture in Hymenolepis microstoma

Int J Parasitol. 2013 Jul;43(8):641-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2013.03.004. Epub 2013 Apr 29.


Hymenolepis microstoma, the mouse bile-duct tapeworm, is a classical rodent-hosted model that provides easy laboratory access to all stages of the life cycle. Recent characterisation of its genome has greatly advanced its utility for molecular research, albeit contemporary techniques such as those for assaying gene function have yet to be developed in the system. Here we present research on the development of RNA-mediated gene suppression via RNA interference (RNAi), and on in vitro culture of the enteric, adult phase of the life cycle to support this work. We demonstrate up to 80% quantitative suppression of a Hox transcript via soaking activated juvenile worms with double-stranded RNAs. However, we were unable to achieve segmentation of the worms in culture despite extensive manipulations of the culture media and supplements, preventing functional interpretation. An alternative, in vivo approach to RNAi was also tested by exposing cysticercoids prior to inoculation in mice, but fluorescent labelling showed that the RNAs did not sufficiently penetrate the cyst body and no difference in expression was found between exposed and control groups grown in vivo. Genomic and transcriptomic data revealed that H. microstoma has two orthologs each of Dicer, Drosha and Ago-1-like genes and that expression of one of the Ago-1 genes appears exclusive to germline development, suggesting that two or more independent RNA-mediated pathways are in operation. These studies demonstrate the viability of RNAi in H. microstoma and extend the utility of the model for research in the genomic era.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Culture Media / chemistry
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Hymenolepis / genetics*
  • Hymenolepis / growth & development*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Biology / methods*
  • Parasitology / methods*
  • RNA Interference*
  • Suppression, Genetic


  • Culture Media