An integrated transcriptomics and proteomics analysis of the secretome of the helminth pathogen Fasciola hepatica

Proteins associated with invasion and infection of the mammalian host

Mark W. Robinson, Ranjeeta Menon, Sheila M. Donnelly, John P. Dalton, Shoba Ranganathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

179 Citations (Scopus)


To infect their mammalian hosts, Fasciola hepatica larvae must penetrate and traverse the intestinal wall of the duodenum, move through the peritoneum, and penetrate the liver. After migrating through and feeding on the liver, causing extensive tissue damage, the parasites move to their final niche in the bile ducts where they mature and produce eggs. Here we integrated a transcriptomics and proteomics approach to profile Fasciola secretory proteins that are involved in host-pathogen interactions and to correlate changes in their expression with the migration of the parasite. Prediction of F. hepatica secretory proteins from 14,031 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) available from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre using the semiautomated EST2Secretome pipeline showed that the major components of adult parasite secretions are proteolytic enzymes including cathepsin L, cathepsin B, and asparaginyl endopeptidase cysteine proteases as well as novel trypsin-like serine proteases and carboxypeptidases. Proteomics analysis of proteins secreted by infective larvae, immature flukes, and adult F. hepatica showed that these proteases are developmentally regulated and correlate with the passage of the parasite through host tissues and its encounters with different host macromolecules. Proteases such as FhCL3 and cathepsin B have specific functions in larvae activation and intestinal wall penetration, whereas FhCL1, FhCL2, and FhCL5 are required for liver penetration and tissue and blood feeding. Besides proteases, the parasites secrete an array of antioxidants that are also highly regulated according to their migration through host tissues. However, whereas the proteases of F. hepatica are secreted into the parasite gut via a classical endoplasmic reticulum/Golgi pathway, we speculate that the antioxidants, which all lack a signal sequence, are released via a non-classical trans-tegumental pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1891-1907
Number of pages17
JournalMolecular and Cellular Proteomics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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