Vesicle-based secretion in schistosomes: Analysis of protein and microRNA (miRNA) content of exosome-like vesicles derived from Schistosoma mansoni

Sci Rep. 2018 Feb 19;8(1):3286. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-21587-4.


Exosomes are small vesicles of endocytic origin, which are released into the extracellular environment and mediate a variety of physiological and pathological conditions. Here we show that Schistosoma mansoni releases exosome-like vesicles in vitro. Vesicles were purified from culture medium by sucrose gradient fractionation and fractions containing vesicles verified by western blot analyses and electron microscopy. Proteomic analyses of exosomal contents unveiled 130 schistosome proteins. Among these proteins are common exosomal markers such as heat shock proteins, energy-generating enzymes, cytoskeletal proteins, and others. In addition, the schistosome extracellular vesicles contain proteins of potential importance for host-parasite interaction, notably peptidases, signaling proteins, cell adhesion proteins (e.g., integrins) and previously described vaccine candidates, including glutathione-S-transferase (GST), tetraspanin (TSP-2) and calpain. S. mansoni exosomes also contain 143 microRNAs (miRNA), of which 25 are present at high levels, including miRNAs detected in sera of infected hosts. Quantitative PCR analysis confirmed the presence of schistosome-derived miRNAs in exosomes purified from infected mouse sera. The results provide evidence of vesicle-mediated secretion in these parasites and suggest that schistosome-derived exosomes could play important roles in host-parasite interactions and could be a useful tool in the development of vaccines and therapeutics.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calpain / blood
  • Calpain / genetics
  • Exosomes / genetics
  • Female
  • Glutathione Transferase / blood
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Proteomics*
  • Schistosoma mansoni / genetics*
  • Schistosoma mansoni / pathogenicity
  • Schistosomiasis / blood
  • Schistosomiasis / genetics*
  • Schistosomiasis / microbiology
  • Schistosomiasis / pathology
  • Tetraspanins / blood
  • Tetraspanins / genetics
  • Transport Vesicles / genetics*
  • Vaccines / blood
  • Vaccines / genetics


  • Tetraspanins
  • Vaccines
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Calpain