Schistosoma mansoni (Platyhelminthes: Digenea: Schistosomatidae) stands out as one of the most debilitating human parasites in the world, with a socio-economic impact that could be traced back to the origins of civilization. While a bulk of studies focusing on a variety of biological aspects of this parasite exists, rather less attention has been paid to key molecular mechanisms underlying the blood feeding process. An agent with hemolytic action characterized by the formation of pores in the membrane of erythrocytes has been revealed in homogenates of S. mansoni adults, however, the identity of the molecule(s) involved in the initial process of lysis of those cells has never been established. In the present project, we will seek to elucidate the evolution, structure, and biological function of a new, putative hemolysin III detected by our group, expressed in intra-molluscan and intra-mammal stages of S. mansoni (SmHly III) using for this goal in silico, in vitro, in situ and in vivo experiments. Preliminary data from our group suggest that this protein contains 7 predicted transmembrane helix domains. In the case of adults, it may possibly be released by exosomes on the lining cells of the posterior esophagus. Our results will contribute to the elucidation of a protein potentially critical for the blood fluke-host interaction. In case the hemolytic function is confirmed, SmHly III will be the first hemolysin to be reported from a species of Schistosoma, an unprecedented finding that will pave the way for promising prophylactic-therapeutic alternatives for schistosomiasis.
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