Ascaris suum provides a powerful model for studying parasitic nematodes, including individual tissues such as the intestine, an established target for anthelmintic treatments. Here, we add a valuable experimental component to our existing functional, proteomic, transcriptomic and phylogenomic studies of the Ascaris suum intestine, by developing a method to manipulate intestinal cell functions via direct delivery of experimental treatments (in this case, double-stranded (ds)RNA) to the apical intestinal membrane. We developed an intestinal perfusion method for direct, controlled delivery of dsRNA/heterogeneous small interfering (hsi) RNA into the intestinal lumen for experimentation. RNA-Seq (22 samples) was used to assess influences of the method on global intestinal gene expression. Successful mRNA-specific knockdown in intestinal cells of adult A. suum was accomplished with this new experimental method. Global transcriptional profiling confirmed that targeted transcripts were knocked down more significantly than any others, with only 12 (0.07% of all genes) or 238 (1.3%) off-target gene transcripts consistently differentially regulated by dsRNA treatment or the perfusion experimental design, respectively (after 24 h). The system supports controlled, effective delivery of treatments (dsRNA/hsiRNA) to the apical intestinal membrane with relatively minor off-target effects, and builds on our experimental model to dissect A. suum intestinal cell functions with broad relevance to parasitic nematodes.
- A. suum