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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Nov 24;95(24):14290-5.

Tsetse thrombin inhibitor: bloodmeal-induced expression of an anticoagulant in salivary glands and gut tissue of Glossina morsitans morsitans.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


The tsetse thrombin inhibitor, a potent and specific low molecular mass (3,530 Da) anticoagulant peptide, was purified previously from salivary gland extracts of Glossina morsitans morsitans (Diptera: Glossinidae). A 303-bp coding sequence corresponding to the inhibitor has now been isolated from a tsetse salivary gland cDNA library by using degenerate oligonucleotide probes. The full-length cDNA contains a 26-bp untranslated segment at its 5' end, followed by a 63-bp sequence corresponding to a putative secretory signal peptide. A 96-bp segment codes for the mature tsetse thrombin inhibitor, whose predicted molecular weight matches that of the purified native protein. Based on its lack of homology to any previously described family of molecules, the tsetse thrombin inhibitor appears to represent a unique class of naturally occurring protease inhibitors. Recombinant tsetse thrombin inhibitor expressed in Escherichia coli and the chemically synthesized peptide are both substantially less active than the purified native protein, suggesting that posttranslational modification(s) may be necessary for optimal inhibitory activity. The tsetse thrombin inhibitor gene, which is present as a single copy in the tsetse genome, is expressed at high levels in salivary glands and midguts of adult tsetse flies, suggesting a possible role for the anticoagulant in both feeding and processing of the bloodmeal.

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