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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Jan;27(2):269-76.

Isolation and molecular characterization of a surface-bound proteinase of Entamoeba histolytica.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany.


Major pathogenic functions of Entamoeba histolytica involved in destruction of host tissues are the degradation of extracellular matrix proteins mediated by secreted cysteine proteinases and contact-dependent killing of host cells via membrane-active factors. A soluble protein with an affinity for membranes was purified from amoebic extracts to apparent homogeneity. N-terminal sequencing and subsequent molecular cloning of the factor revealed that it is a member of the cysteine proteinase family of E. histolytica, which we termed CP5. Further experiments with the purified protein showed that it has potent proteolytic activity that is abrogated in the presence of inhibitors specific for cysteine proteinases. The enzyme firmly associates with membranes retaining its proteolytic activity and it produces cytopathic effects on cultured monolayers. A model of the three-dimensional structure of CP5 revealed the presence of a hydrophobic patch that may account for the potential of the protein to associate with membranes. Immunocytochemical localization of the enzyme to the surface of the amoeba in combination with the recent finding that the gene encoding CP5 is missing in the closely related but non-pathogenic Entamoeba dispar suggests a potential role of the protein in host tissue destruction of E. histolytica.

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