Improved insights into the transcriptomes of the human hookworm Necator americanus - Fundamental and biotechnological implications

Elida M. Rabelo*, Ross S. Hall, Alex Loukas, Leanne Cooper, Min Hu, Shoba Ranganathan, Robin B. Gasser

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Hookworms of humans are blood-feeding parasitic nematodes of major socio-economic significance in a wide range of countries. They cause a neglected tropical disease (NTD) called "hookworm disease" ( = necatoriasis and/or ancylostomiasis). Necator americanus is the most widely distributed hookworm of humans and is a leading cause of iron deficiency anaemia, which can cause physical and mental retardation and deaths in children as well as adverse maternal-foetal outcomes. Currently, there is a significant focus on the development of new approaches for the prevention and control of hookworms in humans. Technological advances are underpinning the discovery of drug and vaccine targets through insights into the molecular biology and genomics of these parasites and their relationship with the human host. In spite of the widespread socio-economic impacts of human necatoriasis, molecular datasets for N. americanus are scant, limiting progress in molecular research. The present article explores all currently available EST datasets for adult and larval stages of N. americanus using a semi-automated bioinformatic pipeline. In the current repertoire of molecules now available, some have been or are being considered as candidate vaccines against N. americanus. Among others, the most abundant sets of molecules relate to the pathogenesis-related protein (PRP) superfamily, comprising various members, such as the Ancylostoma-secreted or activation-associated proteins (ASPs) and the kunitz-type proteins, both of which are inferred to play key roles in the interplay between N. americanus and the human host. Understanding the molecular biology of these and other novel molecules discovered could have important implications for finding new ways of disrupting the pathways that they are involved in, and should facilitate the identification of new drug and vaccine targets. Also, the bioinformatic prediction of the essentiality of genes and gene products as well as molecular network connectivity of nematode-specific genes, together with sequencing by 454 technology, are likely to assist in the genomic discovery efforts in the very near future, to also underpin fundamental, molecular research of hookworms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)122-132
    Number of pages11
    JournalBiotechnology Advances
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


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