Schistosoma mansoni eggs, consisting of an ovum surrounded by nutritive vitelline cells packaged in a tanned protein shell, are produced by paired worms residing in the mesenteric veins of the human host. The vitelline cells are degraded as the larval miracidium matures, the fully developed egg either crossing the gut wall to escape the host or becoming lodged in the host's tissues where it dies and disintegrates, inducing a potentially pathological immune response. Thus, the egg is central to both the transmission of the parasite and the aetiology of the disease. Here we present the first study investigating protein turnover in the egg. We establish that the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway (UPP) changes with egg development and furthermore, that the morphological components of the fully developed egg (the miracidium and the subshell envelope) also exhibit different proteasome subunit expression profiles. We conclude that the UPP is responsible not only for degrading the vitelline cells but is also more highly developed in the envelope than in the miracidium. The envelope is involved in the defence of the miracidium and produces the proteins that the egg secretes, presumably to facilitate its escape from the host, so the UPP probably has a multi-faceted role in the egg's biology.
- Hatch fluid
- Vitelline cells