Continuing transmission of human intestinal schistosomiasis depends on the parasite's access to susceptible snail intermediate hosts (often Biomphalaria glabrata). Transmission fails when parasite larvae enter resistant individuals in wild snail populations. The genetic basis for differences in snail susceptibility/resistance is being intensively investigated as a means to devise novel control strategies based on resistance genes. Reactive oxygen species produced by the snail's defence cells (haemocytes) are effectors of resistance. We hypothesised that genes relevant to production and consumption of reactive oxygen species would be expressed differentially in the haemocytes of snail hosts with different susceptibility/resistance phenotypes. By restricting the genetic diversity of snails, we sought to facilitate identification of resistance genes. By inbreeding, we procured from a 13-16-R1 snail population with both susceptible and resistant individuals 52 lines of B. glabrata (expected homozygosity ~87.5%), and determined the phenotype of each in regard to susceptibility/resistance to Schistosoma mansoni. The inbred lines were found to have line-specific differences in numbers of spreading haemocytes; these were enumerated in both juvenile and adult snails. Lines with high cell numbers were invariably resistant to S. mansoni, whereas lines with lower cell numbers could be resistant or susceptible. Transcript levels in haemocytes were quantified for 18 potentially defence-related genes. Among snails with low cell numbers, the different susceptibility/resistance phenotypes correlated with differences in transcript levels for two redox-relevant genes: an inferred phagocyte oxidase component and a peroxiredoxin. Allograft inflammatory factor (potentially a regulator of leucocyte activation) was expressed at higher levels in resistant snails regardless of spread cell number. Having abundant spreading haemocytes is inferred to enable a snail to kill parasite sporocysts. In contrast, snails with fewer spreading haemocytes seem to achieve resistance only if specific genes are expressed constitutively at levels that are high for the species.
Keywords: Biomphalaria; Expression; Haematocrit; Haemocyte; Host–parasite; Oxidative; Resistance; Schistosoma.
Copyright © 2014 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.