Genome of the fatal tapeworm Sparganum proliferum uncovers mechanisms for cryptic life cycle and aberrant larval proliferation

Taisei Kikuchi, Mehmet Dayi, Vicky L. Hunt, Kenji Ishiwata, Atsushi Toyoda, Asuka Kounosu, Simo Sun, Yasunobu Maeda, Yoko Kondo, Belkisyole Alarcon de Noya, Oscar Noya, Somei Kojima, Toshiaki Kuramochi, Haruhiko Maruyama

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4 Citations (SciVal)


The cryptic parasite Sparganum proliferum proliferates in humans and invades tissues and organs. Only scattered cases have been reported, but S. proliferum infection is always fatal. However, S. proliferum’s phylogeny and life cycle remain enigmatic. To investigate the phylogenetic relationships between S. proliferum and other cestode species, and to examine the mechanisms underlying pathogenicity, we sequenced the entire genomes of S. proliferum and a closely related non–life-threatening tapeworm Spirometra erinaceieuropaei. Additionally, we performed larvae transcriptome analyses of S. proliferum plerocercoid to identify genes involved in asexual reproduction in the host. The genome sequences confirmed that the S. proliferum has experienced a clearly distinct evolutionary history from S. erinaceieuropaei. Moreover, we found that nonordinal extracellular matrix coordination allows asexual reproduction in the host, and loss of sexual maturity in S. proliferum are responsible for its fatal pathogenicity to humans. Our high-quality reference genome sequences should be valuable for future studies of pseudophyllidean tapeworm biology and parasitism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number649
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Early online date31 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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