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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Gene co-expression network analysis reveal core responsive genes in Parascaris univalens tissues following ivermectin exposure

Dube, Faruk; Delhomme, Nicolas; Martin, Frida; Hinas, Andrea; Abrink, Magnus; Svaerd, Staffan; Tyden, Eva

Abstract

Anthelmintic resistance in equine parasite Parascaris univalens, compromises ivermectin (IVM) effectiveness and necessitates an in-depth understanding of its resistance mechanisms. Most research, primarily focused on holistic gene expression analyses, may overlook vital tissue-specific responses and often limit the scope of novel genes. This study leveraged gene co-expression network analysis to elucidate tissue-specific transcriptional responses and to identify core genes implicated in the IVM response in P. univalens. Adult worms (n = 28) were exposed to 10(-11) M and 10(-9) M IVM in vitro for 24 hours. RNA-sequencing examined transcriptional changes in the anterior end and intestine. Differential expression analysis revealed pronounced tissue differences, with the intestine exhibiting substantially more IVM-induced transcriptional activity. Gene co-expression network analysis identified seven modules significantly associated with the response to IVM. Within these, 219 core genes were detected, largely expressed in the intestinal tissue and spanning diverse biological processes with unspecific patterns. After 10(-11) M IVM, intestinal tissue core genes showed transcriptional suppression, cell cycle inhibition, and ribosomal alterations. Interestingly, genes PgR028_g047 (sorb-1), PgB01_g200 (gmap-1) and PgR046_g017 (col-37 & col-102) switched from downregulation at 10(-11 )M to upregulation at 10(-9 )M IVM. The 10(-9 )M concentration induced expression of cuticle and membrane integrity core genes in the intestinal tissue. No clear core gene patterns were visible in the anterior end after 10(-11) M IVM. However, after 10(-9) M IVM, the anterior end mostly displayed downregulation, indicating disrupted transcriptional regulation. One interesting finding was the non-modular calcium-signaling gene, PgR047_g066 (gegf-1), which uniquely connected 71 genes across four modules. These genes were enriched for transmembrane signaling activity, suggesting that PgR047_g066 (gegf-1) could have a key signaling role. By unveiling tissue-specific expression patterns and highlighting biological processes through unbiased core gene detection, this study reveals intricate IVM responses in P. univalens. These findings suggest alternative drug uptake of IVM and can guide functional validations to further IVM resistance mechanism understanding.

Published in

PLoS ONE
2024, Volume: 19, number: 2, article number: e0298039Publisher: PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE