Research Highlight

Giant intestinal fluke genome mapped

doi:10.1038/nindia.2018.163 Published online 12 December 2018

Researchers have identified a large number of genes and related proteins1 that play important roles in maturation and development of the giant intestinal fluke inside many hosts, including humans. This could help design novel therapies for treating fluke-induced infections.

The fluke (Fasciolopsis buski) attaches to the intestinal wall and triggers fasciolopsiasis, a disease that manifests with diarrhoea, intestinal wall abscess and bleeding in humans. Endemic to parts of India, Bangladesh and Taiwan, the fluke has now worryingly spread to non-endemic regions too.

To better understand the fluke’s life cycle and find leads for therapies, scientists from the North-Eastern Hill University in Meghalaya and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, homed in on 12,380 key genes in the fluke.  

The team, led by Devendra Kumar Biswal and Veena Tandon, found highly expressed fluke genes that encode cytoskeletal proteins. They also identified genes encoding fatty-acid-binding proteins (FABP) that capture, store and transport lipid molecules.

The researchers say that many of these proteins with unique properties are potential candidates for designing vaccines. The fluke genome also contains genes that encode specific proteins, including signalling molecules that could potentially be used to devise therapies.

“This study reveals that the adult fluke actively synthesises proteins, utilising (the) host’s nutrients. This enables the fluke to function at a high metabolic load for reproduction and egg development in the host body,” says Biswal.


1. Biswal, D. K. et al. De novo genome and transcriptome analyses provide insights into the biology of the trematode human parasite Fasciolopsis buskiPLoS ONE 13, e0205570 (2018)