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Open Access Research article

A microarray analysis of gene expression in the free-living stages of the parasitic nematode Strongyloides ratti

Fiona J Thompson*, Gary LA Barker*, Louise Hughes, Clare P Wilkes, Jane Coghill and Mark E Viney

Author Affiliations

School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1UG, UK

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:157  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-157

Published: 19 June 2006

Abstract

Background

The nematode Strongyloides ratti has two adult phases in its lifecycle: one obligate, female and parasitic and one facultative, dioecious and free-living. The molecular control of the development of this free-living generation remains to be elucidated.

Results

We have constructed an S. ratti cDNA microarray and used it to interrogate changes in gene expression during the free-living phase of the S. ratti life-cycle. We have found very extensive differences in gene expression between first-stage larvae (L1) passed in faeces and infective L3s preparing to infect hosts. In L1 stages there was comparatively greater expression of genes involved in growth. We have also compared gene expression in L2 stages destined to develop directly into infective L3s with those destined to develop indirectly into free-living adults. This revealed relatively small differences in gene expression. We find little evidence for the conservation of transcription profiles between S. ratti and S. stercoralis or C. elegans.

Conclusion

This is the first multi-gene study of gene expression in S. ratti. This has shown that robust data can be generated, with consistent measures of expression within computationally determined clusters and contigs. We find inconsistencies between EST representation data and microarray hybridization data in the identification of genes with stage-specific expression and highly expressed genes. Many of the genes whose expression is significantly different between L1 and iL3s stages are unknown beyond alignments to predicted genes. This highlights the forthcoming challenge in actually determining the role of these genes in the life of S. ratti.