Modification of the DNA of the parasitic flatworm Schistosoma mansoni that gives rise to the disease Schistomiasis is identified in Nature Communications. The finding could potentially be used to identify targets to control these pathogens which cause one of the world’s most prevalent parasitic diseases.
Schistomiasis is a chronic and debilitating disease caused by blood flukes. Karl Hoffmann and colleagues show for the first time that the genomic DNA of the blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni is methylated and they also identify proteins that are likely to mediate this modification of the DNA. They found that chemical inhibition of these proteins with the FDA approved chemotherapeutic drug 5-azacytidine, reduced methylation and also reduced the egg production of female blood flukes and caused morphological abnormalities of the remaining eggs.
These findings suggest that targeting the proteins that methylate the DNA of the flood fluke could be used in their control.