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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1997 Oct;89(1):1-9.

Proteolytic degradation of host hemoglobin by schistosomes.

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Molecular Parasitology Unit, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Australia.


Schistosomes acquire amino acids for growth, development, and reproduction by catabolizing hemoglobin obtained from ingested host erythrocytes. While the biochemical pathway(s) involved has not been determined definitively, a number of proteases including schistosome legumain and cathepsin L-, D-, B- and C-like enzymes have been ascribed roles in the degradation of hemoglobin to diffusible peptides. Transcripts encoding these schistosome proteases, which appear to be expressed in the gastrodermis and cecum of the schistosome, have been reported. Because these enzymes are candidate targets at which to direct novel anti-schistosomal therapies, the comparative biochemistry of these and their counterpart mammalian proteases is now the focus of research in a number of laboratories. This paper reviews reports dating from 40 years ago to the present on how schistosomes digest host-derived hemoglobin, and interprets apparent anomalies in some earlier compared to later reports, the latter having benefited from the availability of PCR and gene cloning technologies. More specifically, the review concentrates on five proteolytic enzymes, and their associated genes, which have been ascribed key roles in the pathway of hemoglobin degradation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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