Proteomic analysis of embryonic Fasciola hepatica: Characterization and antigenic potential of a developmentally regulated heat shock protein

J. V. Moxon, E. James LaCourse, H. A. Wright, S. Perally, Mark C. Prescott, Jennifer L. Gillard, J. Barrett, J. V. Hamilton, P. M. Brophy

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Fasciola hepatica is responsible for human disease and economic livestock loss on a global scale. We report the first post-genomic investigation of cellular proteins expressed by embryonic F. hepatica via two-dimensional electrophoresis, image analysis and tandem mass spectrometry. Antioxidant proteins and protein chaperones are prominently expressed by embryonic F. hepatica. Molecular differences between the egg and other characterized F. hepatica lifecycle stages were noted. Furthermore, proteins expressed within liver fluke eggs differ to those isolated from the well-characterized eggs of the human blood flatworm Schistosoma mansoni were revealed. Plasticity in expression of major proteins, particularly a prominently expressed 65. kDa protein cluster was seen between natural populations of embryonating F. hepatica eggs suggesting that liver fluke embryogenisis is a plastic process. Immunoblotting revealed that the abundant 65. kDa protein cluster is recognised by infection sera from three F. hepatica challenged host species. Mass spectrometry and BLAST analyses demonstrated that the 65. kDa antigen shows homology to egg antigens of other flatworm parasites, and is represented in a F. hepatica EST database constructed from adult fluke transcripts. EST clones encoding the egg antigen were re-sequenced, predicting two forms of the protein. Four clones predict a 312 aa polypeptide, three clones encode a putative 110 amino acid extension at the N-terminus which may be involved in protein secretion, although this extension was not expressed by natively extracted proteins. Consistent expression of alpha crystallin domains confirmed the protein to be a member of the alpha crystallin containing small heat shock protein (AC/sHSP) superfamily. AC/sHSPs are ubiquitous in nature, however, this is the first time a member of this protein superfamily has been described from F. hepatica. The antigenic AC/sHSP was named Fh-HSP35α based on predictions of molecular weight. Production of recombinant Fh-HSP35α reveals considerable mass discrepancy between native and recombinant proteins, although descriptions of other characterized flatworm AC/sHSPs, suggest that the native form is a dimer. Immunoblot analyses confirm that the recombinant protein is recognised by F. hepatica challenged hosts, but does not react with sera from non-infected animals. We discuss the potential of recombinant Fh-HSP35α as an egg-based diagnostic marker for liver fluke infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-75
Number of pages14
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number1-2
Early online date04 Jan 2010
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2010


  • Antigen
  • Egg
  • Embryo
  • Embryogenesis
  • Flatworm
  • Heat shock protein


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