Single-cell RNA-seq analyses show that long non-coding RNAs are conspicuously expressed in Schistosoma mansoni gamete and tegument progenitor cell populations

David A. Morales-Vicente, Lu Zhao, Gilbert O. Silveira, Ana C. Tahira, Murilo S. Amaral, James J. Collins, Sergio Verjovski-Almeida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Schistosoma mansoni is a flatworm that causes schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease that affects over 200 million people worldwide. New therapeutic targets are needed with only one drug available for treatment and no vaccine. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are transcripts longer than 200 nucleotides with low or no protein-coding potential. In other organisms, they have been shown as involved with reproduction, stem cell maintenance and drug resistance, and they tend to exhibit tissue-specific expression patterns. S. mansoni expresses thousands of lncRNA genes; however, the cell type expression patterns of lncRNAs in the parasite remain uncharacterized. Here, we have re-analyzed publicly available single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) data obtained from adult S. mansoni to identify the lncRNAs signature of adult schistosome cell types. A total of 8023 lncRNAs (79% of all lncRNAs) were detected. Analyses of the lncRNAs expression profiles in the cells using statistically stringent criteria were performed to identify 74 lncRNA gene markers of cell clusters. Male gamete and tegument progenitor lineages clusters contained most of the cluster-specific lncRNA markers. We also identified lncRNA markers of specific neural clusters. Whole-mount in situ hybridization (WISH) and double fluorescence in situ hybridization were used to validate the cluster-specific expression of 13 out of 16 selected lncRNA genes (81%) in the male and female adult parasite tissues; for one of these 16 gene loci, probes for two different lncRNA isoforms were used, which showed differential isoform expression in testis and ovary. An atlas of the expression profiles across the cell clusters of all lncRNAs detected in our analysis is available as a public website resource ( The results presented here give strong support to a tissue-specific expression and to a regulated expression program of lncRNAs in S. mansoni. This will be the basis for further exploration of lncRNA genes as potential therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number924877
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
StatePublished - Sep 20 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • long non-coding RNAs
  • parasitology
  • RNA sequencing
  • RNA-seq
  • Schistosoma mansoni adult worms
  • single-cell expression profiles
  • single-cell sequencing data analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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