An atypical and functionally diverse family of Kunitz-type cysteine/serine proteinase inhibitors secreted by the helminth parasite Fasciola hepatica

David Smith, Krystyna Cwiklinski, Heather Jewhurst, Irina G Tikhonova, John P Dalton

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Fasciola hepatica is a global parasite of humans and their livestock. Regulation of parasite-secreted cathepsin L-like cysteine proteases associated with virulence is important to fine-tune parasite-host interaction. We uncovered a family of seven Kunitz-type (FhKT) inhibitors dispersed into five phylogenetic groups. The most highly expressed FhKT genes (group FhKT1) are secreted by the newly excysted juveniles (NEJs), the stage responsible for host infection. The FhKT1 inhibitors do not inhibit serine proteases but are potent inhibitors of parasite cathepsins L and host lysosomal cathepsin L, S and K cysteine proteases (inhibition constants < 10 nM). Their unusual inhibitory properties are due to (a) Leu15 in the reactive site loop P1 position that sits at the water-exposed interface of the S1 and S1' subsites of the cathepsin protease, and (b) Arg19 which forms cation-π interactions with Trp291 of the S1' subsite and electrostatic interactions with Asp125 of the S2' subsite. FhKT1.3 is exceptional, however, as it also inhibits the serine protease trypsin due to replacement of the P1 Leu15 in the reactive loop with Arg15. The atypical Kunitz-type inhibitor family likely regulate parasite cathepsin L proteases and/or impairs host immune cell activation by blocking lysosomal cathepsin proteases involved in antigen processing and presentation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20657
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2020

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