Molecular cloning and characterization of gut-derived cysteine proteinases associated with a host protective extract from Haemonchus contortus

P. J. SKUCE a1, D. L. REDMOND a1, S. LIDDELL a1, E. M. STEWART a1, G. F. J. NEWLANDS a1, W. D. SMITH a1 and D. P. KNOX a1c1
a1 Moredun Research Institute, International Research Centre, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0PZ


Cysteine proteinases have been implicated in the protection conferred by vaccination with detergent-soluble extracts of Haemonchus contortus. In the present study, antisera from sheep refractory to Haemonchus challenge following vaccination with a ‘proteinase-enriched’ Haemonchus gut membrane extract, were employed to screen a cDNA expression library of the adult parasite. This resulted in the isolation of 3 cDNAs (designated hmcp1, 4 and 6) encoding cathepsin B-like cysteine proteinases. Immunocytochemical studies specifically localized the products of these genes to the microvillar surface of the parasite's gut and RT–PCR experiments revealed that these were developmentally regulated, being expressed exclusively during the blood-feeding parasitic stages. In addition, a generic PCR approach was adopted in order to identify the predominant cysteine proteinases in a UK strain of Haemonchus. A panel of 5 cDNAs, including hmcp1 and 4, was amplified in this way. Genomic Southern blot analysis indicated that some of these enzymes were encoded by single-copy genes, whereas others were encoded by multi-copy genes. Subsequent sequence analysis revealed that the proteases identified in this study were distinct from those previously reported in USA strains of the parasite.

(Received February 27 1999)
(Revised April 27 1999)
(Accepted April 28 1999)

Key Words: Haemonchus contortus; cysteine proteinase; cathepsin B; cDNA cloning; polymerase chain reaction.

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