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Curr Opin Immunol. 1998 Feb;10(1):23-8.

Role of the prophenoloxidase-activating system in invertebrate immunity.

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Division of Physiological Mycology, University of Uppsala, Sweden.


The melanization reaction, which is a common response to parasite entry in invertebrate animals, especially arthropods, is due to the activity of an oxidoreductase, phenoloxidase. This enzyme is part of a complex system of proteinases, pattern recognition proteins and proteinase inhibitors constituting the so-called prophenoloxidase-activating system. It is proposed to be a non-self recognition system because conversion of prophenoloxidase to active enzyme can be brought about by minuscule amounts of molecules such as lipopolysaccharide, peptidoglycan and beta-1, 3-glucans from micro-organisms. Several components of this system recently have been isolated and their structure determined.

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