Publication: Secreted venom allergen-like proteins of helminths: Conserved modulators of host responses in animals and plants

Published on
November 2, 2018

Despite causing considerable damage to host tissue at the onset of parasitism, invasive helminths establish remarkably persistent infections in both animals and plants. Secretions released by these obligate parasites during host invasion are thought to be crucial for their persistence in infection.

Helminth secretions are complex mixtures of molecules, most of which have unknown molecular targets and functions in host cells or tissues. Although the habitats of animal- and plant-parasitic helminths are very distinct, their secretions share the presence of a structurally conserved group of proteins called venom allergen-like proteins (VALs). Helminths abundantly secrete VALs during several stages of parasitism while inflicting extensive damage to host tissue. The tight association between the secretion of VALs and the onset of parasitism has triggered a particular interest in this group of proteins, as improved knowledge on their biological functions may assist in designing novel protection strategies against parasites in humans, livestock, and important food crops.