Background: Schistosomiasis is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases worldwide and is a public health problem. Schistosoma mansoni is the most widespread species responsible for schistosomiasis in the Americas, Middle East and Africa. Adult female worms (mated to males) release eggs in the hepatic portal vasculature and are the principal cause of morbidity. Comparative separate transcriptomes of female and male adult worms were previously assessed with using microarrays and Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE), thus limiting the possibility of finding novel genes. Moreover, the egg transcriptome was analyzed only once with limited bacterially cloned cDNA libraries.
Methodology/principal findings: To compare the gene expression of S. mansoni eggs, females, and males, we performed RNA-Seq on these three parasite forms using 454/Roche technology and reconstructed the transcriptome using Trinity de novo assembly. The resulting contigs were mapped to the genome and were cross-referenced with predicted Smp genes and H3K4me3 ChIP-Seq public data. For the first time, we obtained separate, unbiased gene expression profiles for S. mansoni eggs and female and male adult worms, identifying enriched biological processes and specific enriched functions for each of the three parasite forms. Transcripts with no match to predicted genes were analyzed for their protein-coding potential and the presence of an encoded conserved protein domain. A set of 232 novel protein-coding genes with putative functions related to reproduction, metabolism, and cell biogenesis was detected, which contributes to the understanding of parasite biology.
Conclusions/significance: Large-scale RNA-Seq analysis using de novo assembly associated with genome-wide information for histone marks in the vicinity of gene models constitutes a new approach to transcriptome analysis that has not yet been explored in schistosomes. Importantly, all data have been consolidated into a UCSC Genome Browser search- and download-tool (http://schistosoma.usp.br/). This database provides new ways to explore the schistosome genome and transcriptome and will facilitate molecular research on this important parasite.