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Title: Parasitic influences on the host genome using the molluscan model organism Biomphalaria glabrata
Author: Arican-Goktas, Halime Derya
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2013
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The freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata is an intermediate host for Schistosoma mansoni parasites, causing one of the most prevalent parasitic infections in mammals, known as schistosomiasis (Bilharzia). Due to its importance in the spread of the disease B. glabrata has been selected for whole genome sequencing and is now a molluscan model organism. In order to aid the sequencing project and to understand the structure and organisation of B. glabrata’s genome at the chromosomal level, a G-banded karyotype has been established. Unlike in any other previous reports, two heteromorphic chromosomes have been identified in the genome of B. glabrata and for the first time snail ideograms have been produced. In addition to characterising the snail chromosomes, a methodology for mapping single copy B. glabrata genes onto these chromosomes has also been established, and 4 genes have successfully been mapped using fluorescence in situ hybridisation. In the relationship between a parasite and a host organism, it is of fundamental importance to understand the basic biology and interfere with the life cycle to reveal how the parasite controls and elicits host gene expression for its own benefit. This study is also directly addressing this aspect of host – parasite interactions by investigating the effects of schistosome infection on the genome and cell nuclei of the host snail B. glabrata. Upon infection with S. mansoni miracidia, genes known to be involved in the host response to the parasite are dramatically relocated within the interphase snail nuclei. These events are in conjunction with the up-regulation of gene expression, indicating a parasite induced nuclear event. Moreover, a differential response between the schistosome-resistant and schistosome-susceptible snails is also reported. This is the first time this has been described in a host – pathogen relationship. The precise organisation of the genome is critical for its correct functioning. The genome is non-randomly organised and this level of organisation is very much influenced by the nuclear architecture. Being a molluscan model organism with the availability of a unique cell line, B. glabrata is a remarkable organism for the studies of nuclear and genome biology. For this reason, in this thesis the snail nuclear architecture was also investigated. For the first time PML bodies, transcription factories, and nuclear myosin 1 beta have been visualised in the snail nuclei. A heat shock system was also developed to study the role of these structures in the snail. Upon heat stimuli gene loci were found to reposition and co-localise with transcription factories, which was in parallel with the up-regulation of gene expression. The mechanism of this genome reorganisation was explored by investigating nuclear motor structures in the snail. By using a motor inhibitor on snail cells, gene repositioning and subsequent expression after heat shock was blocked. This is the first time this has been shown in any organism. Thus, due to the ease of use of the snails with respect to maintenance, handling, and treatments, B. glabrata is making a very useful new model organism to study spatial genomic events.
Supervisor: Bridger, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Genome organisation ; Gene positioning ; Karyotype ; Gene expression ; Schistosomiasis