Gastrointestinal nematode parasites infect over 1 billion humans, with little evidence for generation of sterilising immunity. These helminths are highly adapted to their mammalian host, following a developmental program through successive niches, while effectively down-modulating host immune responsiveness. Larvae of Heligmosomoides polygyrus, for example, encyst in the intestinal submucosa, before emerging as adult worms into the duodenal lumen. Adults release immunomodulatory excretory-secretory (ES) products, but mice immunised with adult H. polygyrus ES become fully immune to challenge infection. ES products of the intestinal wall 4th stage (L4) larvae are similarly important in host-parasite interactions, as they readily generate sterile immunity against infection, while released material from the egg stage is ineffective. Proteomic analyses of L4 ES identifies protective antigen targets as well as potential tissue-phase immunomodulatory molecules, using as comparators the adult ES proteome and a profile of H. polygyrus egg-released material. While 135 proteins are shared between L4 and adult ES, 72 are L4 ES-specific; L4-specific proteins correspond to those whose transcription is restricted to larval stages, while shared proteins are generally transcribed by all life cycle forms. Two protein families are more heavily represented in the L4 secretome, the Sushi domain, associated with complement regulation, and the ShK/SXC domain related to a toxin interfering with T cell signalling. Both adult and L4 ES contain extensive but distinct arrays of Venom allergen/Ancylostoma secreted protein-Like (VAL) members, with acetylcholinesterases (ACEs) and apyrase APY-3 particularly abundant in L4 ES. Serum antibodies from mice vaccinated with L4 and adult ES react strongly to the VAL-1 protein and to ACE-1, indicating that these two antigens represent major vaccine targets for this intestinal nematode. We have thus defined an extensive and novel repertoire of H. polygyrus proteins closely implicated in immune modulation and protective immunity
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