Genome sequences for Schistosoma japonicum
and Schistosoma mansoni
are now available. The schistosome genome encodes ~13,000 protein encoding genes for which the function of only a minority is understood. There is a valuable role for transgenesis in functional genomic investigations of these new schistosome gene sequences. In gain-of-function approaches, transgenesis can lead to integration of transgenes into the schistosome genome which can facilitate insertional mutagenesis screens. By contrast, transgene driven, vector-based RNA interference (RNAi) offers powerful loss-of-function manipulations. Our laboratory has focused on development of tools to facilitate schistosome transgenesis. We have investigated the utility of retroviruses and transposons to transduce schistosomes. Vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (VSVG) pseudotyped murine leukemia virus (MLV) can transduce developmental stages of S. mansoni
including eggs. We have also observed that the piggyBac transposon is transpositionally active in schistosomes. Approaches with both VSVG-MLV and piggyBac have resulted in somatic transgenesis and have lead to integration of active reporter transgenes into schistosome chromosomes. These findings provided the first reports of integration of reporter transgenes into schistosome chromosomes. Experience with these systems is reviewed herewith, along with findings with transgene mediated RNAi and germ line transgenesis, in addition to pioneering and earlier reports of gene manipulation for schistosomes.