Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Trichinosis parasite gets DNA decoded

21.02.2011
Scientists have decoded the DNA of the parasitic worm that causes trichinosis, a disease linked to eating raw or undercooked pork or carnivorous wild game animals, such as bear and walrus.

After analyzing the genome, investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and their collaborators report they have identified unique features of the parasite, Trichinella spiralis, which provide potential targets for new drugs to fight the illness. The research is published online Feb. 20 in Nature Genetics.

While trichinosis is no longer a problem in the United States – fewer than a dozen cases are reported annually – an estimated 11 million people worldwide are infected. Current treatments are effective only if the disease is diagnosed early.

"It takes less than two weeks for the larvae to travel from the intestine to muscle, where they live," says lead author Makedonka Mitreva, PhD, research assistant professor of genetics at Washington University's Genome Center. "Once the worms invade the muscle, drugs are less effective. While the disease is rarely deadly, patients often live for months or years with chronic muscle pain and fatigue until the worms eventually die."

Today, trichinosis occurs most often in areas of Asia and Eastern Europe where pigs are sometimes fed raw meat, and meat inspections are lax.

The new research also has implications far beyond a single parasitic disease, the researchers say. T. spiralis is just one of many thousands of parasitic roundworms called nematodes that, according to the World Health Organization, infect 2 billion people worldwide, severely sickening 300 million. Other species of parasitic nematodes cause diseases in pets and livestock and billions of dollars of crop losses annually.

Among nematodes, T. spiralis diverged early, some 600-700 million years before the crown species, C. elegans, a model organism used in research laboratories. To date, the genomes of 10 nematodes, including five parasitic worms, have been decoded. The latest addition of the T. spiralis genome now allows scientists to compare species that span the phylum.

"T. spiralis occupies a strategic position in the evolutionary tree of nematodes, which helps fill in important knowledge gaps," explains senior author Richard K. Wilson, PhD, director of Washington University's Genome Center and professor of genetics. "By comparing nematode genomes, we have identified key molecular features that distinguish parasitic nematodes, raising the prospect that a single targeted drug may be effective against multiple species."

Over all, the genome of T. spiralis is smaller than that of C. elegans. It has 15,808 genes, compared to C. elegans' 20,000.

Moreover, about 45 percent of T. spiralis genes appear to be novel. These genes have not been found in other organisms and are not listed in public gene databases. The researchers say the worm's early evolutionary split or its distinctive lifestyle – it can't survive outside the body – may account for this extensive collection of enigmatic genes.

The researchers also found 274 families of proteins that are conserved among all nematodes and that do not exist in other organisms, including humans. Furthermore, they identified 64 protein families that are exclusive to parasitic nematodes.

"This provides opportunities for scientists to dig deeper into the distinctive features of parasitic nematodes that can be targeted with new drugs," Mitreva says. "If those drugs target molecular features unique to parasitic worms, it is more likely the side effects of those drugs will be minimal in humans."

The research is supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, both of the National Institutes of Health.

Collaborators include scientists at Washington State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cornell University and Divergence, Inc.

Mitreva M, Jasmer DP, Zarlenga DS, Wang Z, Abubucker S, Martin J, Taylor CM, Yin Y, Fulton L, Minx P, Yang S-P, Warren WC, Fulton RS, Bhonagiri V, Zhang X, Hallsworth-Pepin K, Clifton SW, McCarter JP, Appleton J, Mardis ER, Wilson RK. The draft genome of the parasitic nematode Trichinella spiralis. Nature Genetics. Advance online publication, Feb. 20, 2011

Washington University School of Medicine's 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Caroline Arbanas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

Further reports about: C. elegans DNA Genom Medicine School Trichinella Trichinosis health services parasitic worms

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Opening the cavity floodgates
23.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Incentive to Move
23.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks Industry & Economy
Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers reveal how microbes cope in phosphorus-deficient tropical soil

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Opening the cavity floodgates

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Siberian scientists suggested a new method for synthesizing a promising magnetic material

23.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>