Taenia solium, a cestode that causes neurocysticercosis and taeniasis in humans, has a complex life cycle. The adult tapeworm develops in the intestine of human beings and is also responsible for neurocysticercosis, which is caused by the metacestode or cysticercus that develops in the brain. Recently, we have cloned the coding region for T. solium calreticulin (TsCRT) as a functional Ca2+-binding protein. Calreticulin is a ubiquitous protein involved in cellular Ca2+ homeostasis and protein folding. These important functions affect several aspects of cell physiology. To explore the expression of TsCRT during the T. solium life cycle, we used a specific polyclonal antibody raised against recombinant TsCRT to localize this protein by immunolabeling techniques. In sections of cysticerci obtained from swine muscle, as well as of adult tapeworms obtained after infection of hamsters with cysticerci, TsCRT was preferentially localized in tegumentary and muscle cytons of the suckers and rostellum. In mature proglottids obtained from infected humans, positive staining was observed in spermatogonia, ovogonia, uterine epithelium, and cells of the vas deferens. In the gravid uterus, the morula and early stage embryos were highly positive to TsCRT. However, expression diminished as embryonic development progressed and was absent in fully developed oncospheres that were surrounded by an embryophore. A similar down regulation was observed during spermatogenesis. Although early spermatocytes showed a high expression of TsCRT, mature spermatozoa present in the vas deferens were completely negative. These data indicate that calreticulin expression is spatially and temporally regulated during development of T. solium, especially during germ cell development and embryogenesis. In addition, these original images illustrate, for the first time, these processes at a histological level.

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