As one of the three major human pathogens that cause schistosomiasis, Schistosoma japonicum is the only one that is endemic in China. Despite great progress on schistosomiasis control over the past 50 years in China, S. japonicum transmission still occurs in certain endemic regions, which causes significant public health problems and enormous economic losses. During different life stages, parasites are able to survive dramatic osmolality changes between its vector, fresh water, and mammal host. However, the molecular mechanism of parasite osmoregulation remains unknown. To address this challenging question, we report the first cloning of an S. japonicum aquaglyceroporin (SjAQP) from an isolate from Jiangsu province, China. Expressing SjAQP in Xenopus oocytes facilitated the permeation of water, glycerol, and urea. The water permeability of SjAQP was inhibited by 1 mM HgCl 2, 3 mM tetraethylammonium, 1 mM ZnCl 2, and 1 mM CuSO 4. SjAQP was constitutively expressed throughout the S. japonicum life cycle, including in the egg, miracidia, cercaria, and adult stages. The highest expression was detected during the infective cercaria stage. Our results suggest that SjAQP plays a role in osmoregulation throughout the S. japonicum life cycle, especially during cercariae transformation, which enables parasites to survive osmotic challenges.
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