Identification of a novel Fasciola hepatica cathepsin L protease containing protective epitopes within the propeptide

M.M. Harmsen, J.B.W.J. Cornelissen, W.E.C.M. Buys-Bergen, W.J.A. Boersma, S.H.M. Jeurissen, F.J. Milligen

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    44 Citations (Scopus)


    Cathepsin L (CL)-like proteases are important candidate vaccine antigens for protection against helminth infections. We previously identified an immunogenic 32 kDa protein specifically present in newly excysted juveniles (NEJs) of Fasciola hepatica. Here we show by N-terminal protein sequencing that this protein represents a CL-like protease still containing the propeptide. Two cDNAs encoding this CL were subsequently isolated from NEJs by RT-PCR. The predicted amino acid sequences of these cDNAs showed approximately 70% sequence homology to both CL1 and CL2 sequences isolated from adult stage F. hepatica and are, therefore, referred to as CL3. The CL3 clones encoded asparagine at position PI of the propeptide cleavage site, suggesting a dependence on asparaginyl endopeptidases for maturation. Recombinant expression of a CL3 cDNA in Saccharomyces cerevisiae resulted in secretion of the proenzyme form. The propeptide of CL-like proteins was predicted to contain important B-cell epitopes. To determine the contribution of the propeptide to protective immunity, rats were vaccinated with Keyhole Limpet Haemocyanin-conjugated synthetic peptides encoding these putative B-cell epitopes derived from the CL1 or CL3 sequence. A subsequent challenge infection resulted in a significant (P <0.05) reduction of fluke load compared to adjuvant controls. We conclude that the propeptide of CL3 plays an important role in inducing immunity against F. hepatica infection. (C) 2004 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)675-682
    JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • newly excysted juveniles
    • saccharomyces-cerevisiae
    • asparaginyl endopeptidase
    • functional expression
    • cysteine proteinases
    • liver fluke
    • in-vitro
    • immunity
    • vaccines
    • hemoglobin

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