Dynamic expression of long non-coding RNAs throughout parasite sexual and neural maturation in schistosoma japonicum

Schistosoma japonicum is a flatworm that causes schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease. S. japonicum RNA-Seq analyses has been previously reported in the literature on females and males obtained during sexual maturation from 14 to 28 days post-infection in mouse, resulting in the identification of protein-coding genes and pathways, whose expression levels were related to sexual development. However, this work did not include an analysis of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Here, we applied a pipeline to identify and annotate lncRNAs in 66 S. japonicum RNA-Seq publicly available libraries, from different life-cycle stages. We also performed co-expression analyses to find stage-specific lncRNAs possibly related to sexual maturation. We identified 12,291 S. japonicum expressed lncRNAs. Sequence similarity search and synteny conservation indicated that some 14% of S. japonicum intergenic lncRNAs have synteny conservation with S. mansoni intergenic lncRNAs. Co-expression analyses showed that lncRNAs and protein-coding genes in S. japonicum males and females have a dynamic co-expression throughout sexual maturation, showing differential expression between the sexes; the protein-coding genes were related to the nervous system development, lipid and drug metabolism, and overall parasite survival. Co-expression pattern suggests that lncRNAs possibly regulate these processes or are regulated by the same activation program as that of protein-coding genes.
Keywords
parasitology;  lncRNAs;  WGCNA;  gene co-expression network;  synteny;  nervous system

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Maciel LF, Vicente DAM, Verjovski-Almeida S. Dynamic expression of long non-coding RNAs throughout parasite sexual and neural maturation in schistosoma japonicum. NonCoding RNA. 2020 Mar;6(2):15. doi:10.3390/ncrna6020015.
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