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Eukaryot Cell. 2007 Nov;6(11):2139-46. Epub 2007 Sep 7.

Identification of an Entamoeba histolytica serine-, threonine-, and isoleucine-rich protein with roles in adhesion and cytotoxicity.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5124, USA.


Entamoeba histolytica is a leading cause of parasitic death globally. However, the molecular framework regulating pathogenesis is poorly understood. We have previously used expression profiling to identify Entamoeba genes whose expressions were strictly associated with virulent strains (R. C. MacFarlane and U. Singh, Infect. Immun. 74:340-351, 2006). One gene, which we have named EhSTIRP (Entamoeba histolytica serine-, threonine-, and isoleucine-rich protein), was exclusively expressed in virulent but not in nonvirulent Entamoeba strains. EhSTIRP is predicted to be a transmembrane protein and is encoded by a multigene family. In order to characterize its function in amebic biology, we used a double-stranded RNA-based approach and were able to selectively down-regulate expression of this gene family. Upon EhSTIRP down-regulation, we were able to ascribe cytotoxic and adhesive properties to the protein family using lactate dehydrogenase release and Chinese hamster ovary cell adhesion assays. EhSTIRP thus likely represents a novel determinant of virulence in Entamoeba histolytica. This work validates the fact that genes expressed exclusively in virulent strains may represent virulence determinants and highlights the need for further functional analyses of other genes with similar expression profiles.

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