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Int J Parasitol. 2004 May;34(6):703-14.

Leucine aminopeptidase of the human blood flukes, Schistosoma mansoni and Schistosoma japonicum.

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Molecular Parasitology Unit, School of Biotechnology, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland.


An array of schistosome endoproteases involved in the digestion of host hemoglobin to absorbable peptides has been described, but the exoprotease responsible for catabolising these peptides to amino acids has yet to be identified. By searching the public databases we found that Schistosoma mansoni and Schistosoma japonicum express a gene encoding a member of the M17 family of leucine aminopeptidases (LAPs). A functional recombinant S. mansoni LAP produced in insect cells shared biochemical properties, including pH optimum for activity, substrate specificity and reliance on metal cations for activity, with the major aminopeptidase activity in soluble extracts of adult worms. The pH range in which the enzyme functions and the lack of a signal peptide indicate that the enzyme functions intracellularly. Immunolocalisation studies showed that the S. mansoni LAP is synthesised in the gastrodermal cells surrounding the gut lumen. Accordingly, we propose that peptides generated in the lumen of the schistosome gut are absorbed into the gastrodermal cells and are cleaved by LAP to free amino acids before being distributed to the internal tissues of the parasite. Since LAP was also localised to the surface tegument it may play an additional role in surface membrane re-modelling.

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