Four of the seven enzyme inhibitors she tested were found to inhibit the development of L3 larvae. The inhibitors also caused substantial alterations in the amounts of certain proteins in the larvae. Ondrovics found that 22 proteins were expressed at significantly different levels. Although no functions could be assigned to three of the proteins, bioinformatics analysis suggested that the remainder are involved in a wide range of biological processes, including reproduction, cellular metabolic processes, multicellular organismal growth, developmental processes, growth, locomotion, response to stimuli, localization and biological regulation. It seems that the activities of these proteins are increased at the L3 to L4 transition, so the proteins are likely to have key functions at this time.
Designing new weapons against parasites
A better understanding of key developmental processes could enable new strategies to control parasitic nematodes based on the disruption of key biological pathways. The work at the Vetmeduni thus paves the way for future research to develop drugs that act specifically against parasitic nematodes. As Ondrovics says, "We urgently need new targets for intervention: the worms are rapidly becoming resistant to all the weapons at our disposal. The proteins we identified seem to be involved in fundamental developmental processes and we hope that functional studies will show that some of them are ideal candidate targets for the design of new and selective inhibitors."
|Contact: Martina Ondrovics|
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna