Adaptive radiation within the vaccine target tetraspanin-23 across nine Schistosoma species from Africa
High levels of polymorphism in DNA sequences of tetraspanin-23 (TSP-23) were revealed within and between nine different species of Schistosoma from Africa including Schistosoma mansoni, Schistosoma rodhaini, Schistosoma margrebowiei, Schistosoma mattheei, Schistosoma intercalatum, Schistosoma haematobium, Schistosoma guineensis, Schistosoma curassoni and Schistosoma bovis. The greatest levels of diversity coincided with evidence of positive selection (dN/dS > 1) within regions that code for extracellular loops of TSP-23 believed to interact with the host immune system. Kolaskar and Tongaonkar antigenicity predictions of protein sequences were compared across species and high levels of variation in antigenicity were also identified with each species which possessed their own unique antigenic profile. Phylogenetic analysis of TSP-23 proteins suggested evidence of convergent evolution in antigenic lineages as no true inter-species phylogenetic relationships were seen. This could be indicative of host-specific evolution of antigens in different species of schistosomes, a factor that should be considered carefully when developing vaccine targets.