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Schistosoma japonicum, which inhabits the mesenteric vein of the mammalian hosts for about 20 to 30 years, is subjected to the oxidative stresses from the host defense mechanism during their intra-mammalian stages. To counteract this host immune attack, the parasite utilizes their antioxidant system for survival inside the host. Peroxiredoxins (Prxs), thiol-specific antioxidant proteins, play an essential role for protecting the parasite against oxidative stress by reducing hydrogen peroxide to water. Only three types of 2-Cys Prxs have been previously characterized in S. japonicum whereas a fourth Prx has been identified for Schistosoma mansoni as Prx-4. A sequence coding homologous to this gene in the S. japonicum database was identified, characterized and expressed as recombinant SjPrx-4 protein (rSjPrx-4). Furthermore, rSjPrx-4 was evaluated in this study for its diagnostic potentials in detecting S. japonicum infection in humans.


The gene found in the parasite genome contained 2 active-site cysteines with conserved sequences in the predicted amino acid (AA) sequence and showed 75% identity with that of the previously characterized Prx (TPx-1) of S. japonicum. The gene was expressed in different stages of schistosome life-cycle with highest transcription level in the adult male. The gene was cloned into a plasmid vector and then transfected into Escherichia coli for expression of rSjPrx-4. Anti-rSjPrx-4 mouse sera recognized native SjPrx-4 in egg and adult worm lysate by western blotting. The result of a mixed function oxidation assay in which rSjPrx-4 prevented the nicking of DNA from hydroxyl radicals confirmed its antioxidant activity. Subsequently, immunolocalization analysis showed the localization of SjPrx-4 inside the egg, on the tegument and in the parenchyma of the adult worm. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay results showed that rSjPrx-4 has 83.3% sensitivity and 87.8% specificity. Its diagnostic potential was further evaluated in combination with recombinant SjTPx-1 protein, yielding an improved sensitivity and specificity of 90% and 92.7%, respectively.


These results suggest that SjPrx-4 plays a role as an antioxidant dealing with oxidative stresses of S. japonicum, and its diagnostic potential improved by coupling it with SjTPx-1 is a proof for developing a serological test with better diagnostic performance for human schistosomiasis.