University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus

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Mentor: Dr. Mark W. Miller

Project: Localization and function of the neuropeptide Sensorin-A in the central nervous system of Biomphalaria glabrata

Description of project: It is known that a digenetic trematode worm called Schistosoma mansoni, can cause a parasitic disease Schistosomiasis, also known as Bilharzia, with a ten percent of probability to be contracted by humans. Furthermore, it needs as an intermediate host the freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata for reproduction and the developing of cercarias; stage which can infect humans. It has been shown an alteration of the behavior of infected hosts. Sensorin-A is an abundant neuropeptide in mechanosensory neurons and its participation in excitatory neurotransmission during injury and learning & memory has been shown. The purpose of this study is to determine the localization of Sensorin-A in the central nervous system (CNS) of Biomphalaria glabrata using two different histological approaches: immunohistochemistry and back fills. Based in studies performed in other gastropods and pulmonates, Sensorin-A is expected to be expressed and immuno-detected in neurons from the cerebral ganglia, visceral ganglion, pedal ganglia and buccal ganglia and their nerves. Results obtained from this study could facilitate the development of mechanisms to block the beneficial conditions in this organism that contribute to the development of S. mansoni. Upcoming experiments could determine whether Sensorin-A neuropeptide contributes to infection and alteration of the behavior of its intermediate host.