Long non-coding RNA levels are modulated in Schistosoma mansoni following In Vivo praziquantel exposure

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Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by trematodes of the genus Schistosoma that affects over 200 million people worldwide. For decades, praziquantel (PZQ) has been the only available drug to treat the disease. Despite recent discoveries that identified a transient receptor ion channel as the target of PZQ, schistosome response to this drug remains incompletely understood, since effectiveness relies on other factors that may trigger a complex regulation of parasite gene expression. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are transcripts longer than 200 nucleotides with low or no protein-coding potential that play important roles in S. mansoni homeostasis, reproduction, and fertility. Here, we show that in vivo PZQ treatment modulates lncRNA levels in S. mansoni. We re-analyzed public RNA-Seq data from mature and immature S. mansoni worms treated in vivo with PZQ and detected hundreds of lncRNAs differentially expressed following drug exposure, many of which are shared among mature and immature worms. Through RT-qPCR, seven out of ten selected lncRNAs were validated as differentially expressed; interestingly, we show that these lncRNAs are not adult worm stage-specific and are co-expressed with PZQ-modulated protein-coding genes. By demonstrating that parasite lncRNA expression levels alter in response to PZQ, this study unravels an important step toward elucidating the complex mechanisms of S. mansoni response to PZQ.
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