Schistosome albumin is of host, not parasite, origin

Ricardo DeMarco*, William Mathieson, Gary P. Dillon, R. Alan Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Recent work has implicated schistosome albumin as part of a mechanism for neutralizing the oxidative assault by host immune defenses and suggested that the gene had been acquired by horizontal transfer from the mammalian host. In the course of proteomic analyses of Schistosoma mansoni adult worm vomitus and eggs recovered from mice, we identified numerous peptides, largely derived from murine rather than parasite albumin. We therefore conjectured that the supposed S. mansoni albumin sequence deposited on GenBank might be the result of contamination rather than horizontal gene transfer. Based on phylogenetic analysis the most likely source was the Syrian (golden) hamster Mesocricetus auratus. Proteomic analysis of Syrian hamster albumin generated peptide identities to S. mansoni as the top hit, with a high ion score >1,500 and 63% coverage of the translated cDNA sequence. RT-PCR using specific primers permitted amplification of the M. auratus albumin transcript, which is identical to the deposited S. mansoni albumin sequence. PCR amplification of a fragment of the M. auratus albumin gene from genomic DNA suggests a homologous structure to the Mus musculus albumin gene. We were unable to find the S. mansoni albumin gene sequence by in silico searching on either version 3 of the S. mansoni genome assembly or the >3 million shotgun DNA reads. Finally, Southern blotting detected the albumin gene in M. auratus but not in S. mansoni genomic DNA, even when the latter was present in a 10-fold excess. Collectively, our data make the strongest case that the schistosome albumin protein described in previous reports is of host origin and all nucleotide-derived data are the result of contamination with host material. By analogy, we suggest that other reported examples of horizontal gene transfer to schistosomes might similarly be explained by complementary/genomic DNA contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1208
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Horizontal gene transfer
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Proteomics
  • Southern blotting


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