A molecular genetic study of the variations in metabolic function during schistosome development.
During their complex life cycle schistosomes alternate between the use of stored glycogen and reliance on host glucose to provide for their energy needs. In addition, there is dramatic variation between the relative contribution of aerobic versus anaerobic glucose metabolism during development. We have cloned a set of representative cDNAs that encode proteins involved in glucose uptake, glycolysis, Kreb's cycle and oxidative phosphorylation. The different cDNAs were used as probes to examine the expression of glucose metabolism genes during the schistosome life cycle. Steady state mRNA levels from whole cercariae, isolated cercarial tails, schistosomula and adult worms were analysed on Northern blots and dot blots which were quantified using storage phosphor technology. These studies reveal: (1) Transcripts encoding glycogen metabolic enzymes are expressed to much higher levels in cercarial tails than whole cercariae or schistosomula while the opposite pattern is found for glucose transporters and hexokinase transcripts; (2) Schistosomula contain low levels of transcripts encoding respiratory enzymes but regain the capacity for aerobic glucose metabolism as they mature to adulthood; (3) Male and female adults contain similar levels of the different transcripts involved in glucose metabolism.
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