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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2001 Sep 3;116(2):185-97.

Characterization and expression of enzymatically active recombinant filarial prolyl 4-hydroxylase.

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Division of Geographic Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, BBRB 203, 1530 3rd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-2170, USA.


The cuticle of parasitic nematodes consists primarily of a network of collagen molecules. The enzyme responsible for collagen maturation is prolyl 4-hydroxylase, making this enzyme a central activity in cuticle biosynthesis and a potentially important chemotherapeutic target. Adult and embryonic Brugia malayi are shown to be susceptible to inhibitors of vertebrate prolyl 4-hydroxylase, with exposed parasites exhibiting pathologies consistent with a disruption in cuticle biosynthesis. A full-length cDNA (Ov-phy-1) encoding a catalytically active alpha-subunit of Onchocerca volvulus prolyl 4-hydroxylase was isolated and characterized. The derived amino acid sequence of Ov-phy-1 encoded a peptide that was most similar to the two Caenorhabditis elegans prolyl 4-hydroxylase homologues and to the isoform II enzymes of vertebrates. Expressed sequence tag (EST) analysis and developmental polymerase chain reaction (PCR) studies demonstrated that Ov-phy-1 was expressed in L3 and adult parasites. The gene encoding the Ov-phy-1 open reading frame contained 11 introns, similar in structure to the gene encoding human prolyl 4-hydroxylase isoform I. Genomic Southern blot, EST and genomic PCR studies demonstrated that the O. volvulus genome contained between three and eight genes closely related to Ov-phy-1. Co-expression of Ov-phy-1 with the O. volvulus homologue of protein disulfide isomerase in a baculovirus system resulted in the production of enzymatically active O. volvulus prolyl 4-hydroxylase. In vitro production of enzymatically active O. volvulus prolyl 4-hydroxylase should facilitate identification of specific inhibitors of the parasite enzyme.

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