Sex-Biased Expression of MicroRNAs in Schistosoma mansoni

Antonio Marco, Ana Kozomara, Jerome H L Hui, Aidan M. Emery, David Rollinson, Sam Griffiths-Jones, Matthew Ronshaugen

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    Schistosomiasis is an important neglected tropical disease caused by digenean helminth parasites of the genus Schistosoma. Schistosomes are unusual in that they are dioecious and the adult worms live in the blood system. MicroRNAs play crucial roles during gene regulation and are likely to be important in sex differentiation in dioecious species. Here we characterize 112 microRNAs from adult Schistosoma mansoni individuals, including 84 novel microRNA families, and investigate the expression pattern in different sexes. By deep sequencing, we measured the relative expression levels of conserved and newly identified microRNAs between male and female samples. We observed that 13 microRNAs exhibited sex-biased expression, 10 of which are more abundant in females than in males. Sex chromosomes showed a paucity of female-biased genes, as predicted by theoretical evolutionary models. We propose that the recent emergence of separate sexes in Schistosoma had an effect on the chromosomal distribution and evolution of microRNAs, and that microRNAs are likely to participate in the sex differentiation/maintenance process. © 2013 Marco et al.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere2402
    JournalPL o S Neglected Tropical Diseases
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


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