Transcriptomic analysis of hookworm Ancylostoma ceylanicum life cycle stages reveals changes in G-protein coupled receptor diversity associated with the onset of parasitism

James P. Bernot, Gabriella Rudy, Patti T. Erickson, Ramesh Ratnappan, Meseret Haile, Bruce A. Rosa, Makedonka Mitreva, Damien M. O'Halloran, John M. Hawdon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Free-living nematodes respond to variable and unpredictable environmental stimuli whereas parasitic nematodes exist in a more stable host environment. A positive correlation between the presence of environmental stages in the nematode life cycle and an increasing number of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) reflects this difference in free-living and parasitic lifestyles. As hookworm larvae move from the external environment into a host, they detect uncharacterized host components, initiating a signalling cascade that results in the resumption of development and eventual maturation. Previous studies suggest this process is mediated by GPCRs in amphidial neurons. Here we set out to uncover candidate GPCRs required by a hookworm to recognise its host. First, we identified all potential Ancylostoma ceylanicum GPCRs encoded in the genome. We then used life cycle stage-specific RNA-seq data to identify differentially expressed GPCRs between the free-living infective L3 (iL3) and subsequent parasitic stages to identify receptors involved in the transition to parasitism. We reasoned that GPCRs involved in host recognition and developmental activation would be expressed at higher levels in the environmental iL3 stage than in subsequent stages. Our results support the model that a decrease in GPCR diversity occurs as the larvae develop from the free-living iL3 stage to the parasitic L3 (pL3) in the host over 24–72 h. We find that overall GPCR expression and diversity is highest in the iL3 compared with subsequent parasitic stages. By 72 h, there was an approximately 50% decrease in GPCR richness associated with the moult from the pL3 to the L4. Taken together, our data uncover a negative correlation between GPCR diversity and parasitic development in hookworm. Finally, we demonstrate proof of principal that Caenorhabditis elegans can be used as a heterologous system to examine the expression pattern of candidate host signal chemoreceptors (CRs) from hookworm. We observe expression of candidate host signal CRs in C. elegans, demonstrating that C. elegans can be effectively used as a surrogate to identify expressed hookworm genes. We present several preliminary examples of this strategy and confirm a candidate CR as neuronally expressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-610
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Ancylostoma ceylanicum
  • Chemosensory receptor
  • G protein-coupled receptor
  • GPCR
  • Hookworm


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