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The Journal of Biological Chemistry


A novel filarial serine protease inhibitor (SPI) from the human parasitic nematode Onchocerca volvulus, Ov-SPI-1, was identified through the analysis of a molting third-stage larvae expressed sequence tag dataset. Subsequent analysis of the expressed sequence tag datasets of O. volvulus and other filariae identified four other members of this family. These proteins are related to the low molecular weight SPIs originally isolated from Ascaris suumwhere they are believed to protect the parasite from host intestinal proteases. The two Ov-spi transcripts are up-regulated in the molt- ing larvae and adult stages of the development of the parasite. Recombinant Ov-SPI-1 is an active inhibitor of serine proteases, specifically elastase, chymotrypsin, and cathepsin G. Immunolocal- ization of the Ov-SPI proteins demonstrates that the endogenous proteins are localized to the basal layer of the cuticle of third-stage, molting third-stage, and fourth-stage larvae, the body channels and multivesicular bodies of third-stage larvae and the processed mate- rial found between the two cuticles during molting. In O. volvulusadult worms the Ov-SPI proteins are localized to the sperm and to eggshells surrounding the developing embryos. RNA interference targeting the Ov-spi genes resulted in the specific knockdown of the transcript levels of both Ov-spi-1 and Ov-spi-2, a loss of native pro- teins, and a significant reduction in both molting and viability of third-stage larvae. We suggest the Ov-SPI proteins play a vital role in nematode molting by controlling the activity of an endogenous serine protease(s). The localization data in adults also indicate that these inhibitors may be involved in other processes such as embryogenesis and spermatogenesis.





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© 2005 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


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