TRP Channels in Parasites
Adrian J. Wolstenholme, Sally M. Williamson, and Barbara J. Reaves
A wide range of single- and multi-cellular parasites infect humans and other animals, causing some of the most prevalent and debilitating diseases on the planet. There have been virtually no published studies on the TRP channels of this diverse group of organisms. However, since many parasite genomes have been sequenced, it is simple to demonstrate that they are present in all parasitic metazoans and that sequences related to the yeast trp are present in many protozoans, including all the kinetoplastids.We compared the TRP genes of three species of animal and plant parasitic nematode to those of C. elegans and found that the parasitic species all had fewer such genes. These differences may reflect the phylogenetic distance between the species studied, or may be due to loss of specific gene functions following the evolution of the parasitic lifestyle. Other helminth groups, the trematodes and cestodes, seem to possess many TRPC and TRPM genes, but lack TRPV and TRPN. Most ectoparasites are insects or arachnids. We compared the TRP genes of a plant parasitic aphid and an animal parasite louse and tick with those of Drosophila. Again, all the parasitic species seemed to have fewer types of TRP channel, though the difference was less marked than for the nematodes. The aphid lacks TRPP and TRPML channel genes, whereas the tick lacked those encoding TRPVs. Again, these differences may reflect adaptation to parasitism, and could enable TRP channels to be targeted in the development of novel antiparasitic drugs.