The complex surface structure of adult Schistosoma mansoni, the tegument, is essential for survival of the parasite. This tegument is syncytial and is covered by two closely-apposed lipid bilayers that form the interactive surface with the host. In order to identify parasite-specific phospholipids present in the tegument, the species compositions of the major glycerophospholipid classes, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylinositol, including lysophospholipid species, were analysed in adult S. mansoni worms, isolated tegumental membranes and hamster blood cells. It was shown that there are large differences in species composition in all four phospholipid classes between the membranes of S. mansoni and those of the host blood cells. The species compositions of phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylcholine were strikingly different in the tegument compared with the whole worm. The tegumental membranes are especially enriched in lysophospholipids, predominantly eicosenoic acid (20:1)-containing lyso-phosphatidylserine and lyso-phosphatidylethanolamine species. Furthermore, the tegument was strongly enriched in phosphatidylcholine that contained 5-octadecenoic acid, an unusual fatty acid that is not present in the host. As we have shown previously that lysophospholipids from schistosomes affect the parasite-host interaction, excretion of these tegument-specific phospholipid species was examined in vitro and in vivo. Our experiments demonstrated that these lysophospholipids are not significantly secreted during in vitro incubations and are not detectable in peripheral blood of infected hosts. However, these analyses demonstrated a substantial decrease in PI content of blood plasma from schistosome-infected hamsters, which might indicate that schistosomes influence exosome formation by the host.

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Keywords Eicosenoic acid, Ether-phospholipid, Host-parasite interaction, Lyso-phospholipid, Schistosomiasis, Tegument
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Journal International Journal for Parasitology
Retra, K, deWalick, S, Schmitz, M, Yazdanbakhsh, M, Tielens, A.G.M, Brouwers, J.F, & van Hellemond, J.J. (2015). The tegumental surface membranes of Schistosoma mansoni are enriched in parasite-specific phospholipid species. International Journal for Parasitology, 45(9-10), 629–636. doi:10.1016/j.ijpara.2015.03.011