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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1989 Aug 7;983(2):193-8.

Interactions between earthworm hemolysins and sheep red blood cell membranes.

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Département de Physiologie des Invertébrés-URA CNRS 1138, Talence, France.


The hemolytic activity exhibited by the coelomic fluid of the Annelid Eisenia fetida andrei is mediated by two lipoproteins of mass 40 and 45 kDa, each of them capable of hemolysis. Such an activity is not inhibited by zymosan, inulin or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), nor by hydrazine or methylamine, suggesting that earthworm hemolysins are not related to C3 or C3b complement components. Among the membrane lipids tested (phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylglycerol, sphingomyelin and cholesterol) only sphingomyelin inhibited hemolysis. The analysis of E.f. andrei proteins bound to sphingomyelin microvesicles, as well as to sheep red blood cell (SRBC) membranes, revealed a polymerization of E.f. andrei 40 kDa and/or 45 kDa hemolysins. Consequently, sphingomyelin appears a likely candidate for hemolytic complex receptor. Electron microscopy observations suggested that the polymerization causes an open channel through the lipid bilayer. As demonstrated using metal ions, heparin, chondroitin sulfate, poly(L-lysine) and protamine chloride, the mode of action of earthworm hemolytic complex is not analogous to that of C9 or perforine.

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