Insights into blood feeding by schistosomes from a proteomic analysis of worm vomitus

Stephanie L. Hall, Simon Braschi, Martha Truscott, William Mathieson, Italo M. Cesari, R. Alan Wilson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Whilst the schistosome tegument has been intensively studied there is little information about processes in the gut, the other major interface with the bloodstream, apart from the well characterised cascade of proteases involved in haemoglobin digestion. To gain insights into gut function we undertook a proteomic analysis of worm vomitus and performed in vitro erythrocyte feeding experiments. Additional to known gut constituents we identified two proline carboxypeptidases as well as enzymes capable of hydrolysing carbohydrate and ester linkages. Schistosome serpin and a2 macroglobulin protease inhibitors were also present. A series of "carrier proteins", principally lipid-binding saposins and cholesterol-binding NPC-2 were also detected, together with ferritins and calumenin that bind ferric iron and calcium, respectively. The presence of these lysosomal proteins and other lysosomal markers in the vomitus, plus observations on the cytology of the gut epithelium suggest that lysosomes directly secrete their contents into the gut lumen to digest incoming plasma constituents as well as haemoglobin. It is also likely that the carrier proteins function to sequester essential organic and inorganic nutrients for uptake into the epithelium. The feeding experiments indicate that erythrocytes are uncoated as they pass through the oesophagus, intersecting with its secretions, whilst the endocytosis of space-filling dextran into the gut epithelium provides a potential mechanism for carrier uptake by macropinocytosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-29
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular and Biochemical Parasitology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Carrier protein
  • Endocytosis
  • Esophageal gland
  • Gut epithelium
  • Protease
  • Schistosoma mansoni


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