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Curr Biol. 2001 Mar 20;11(6):447-51.

Bm-CPI-2, a cystatin homolog secreted by the filarial parasite Brugia malayi, inhibits class II MHC-restricted antigen processing.

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Department of Biochemistry, Wellcome Trust Biocentre, University of Dundee, DD1 5EH, Dundee, United Kingdom.


While interference with the class I MHC pathway by pathogen-encoded gene products, especially those of viruses, has been well documented, few examples of specific interference with the MHC class II pathway have been reported. Potential targets for such interference are the proteases that remove the invariant chain chaperone and generate antigenic peptides. Indeed, recent studies indicate that immature dendritic cells express cystatin C to modulate cysteine protease activity and the expression of class II MHC molecules [1]. Here, we show that Bm-CPI-2, a recently discovered cystatin homolog produced by the filarial nematode parasite Brugia malayi (W. F. Gregory et al., submitted), inhibits multiple cysteine protease activities found in the endosomes/lysosomes of human B lymphocyte lines. CPI-2 blocked the hydrolysis of synthetic substrates favored by two different families of lysosomal cysteine proteases and blocked the in vitro processing of the tetanus toxin antigen by purified lysosome fractions. Moreover, CPI-2 substantially inhibited the presentation of selected T cell epitopes from tetanus toxin by living antigen-presenting cells. Our studies provide the first example of a product from a eukaryotic parasite that can directly interfere with antigen presentation, which, in turn, may suggest how filarial parasites might inactivate the host immune response to a helminth invader.

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