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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The multiple cpb cysteine proteinase genes of Leishmania mexicana encode isoenzymes that differ in their stage regulation and substrate preferences.

The cpb genes of Leishmania mexicana encode stage-regulated, cathepsin L-like cysteine proteinases that are leishmanial virulence factors. Field inversion gel electrophoresis and genomic mapping indicate that there are 19 cpb genes arranged in a tandem array. Five genes from the array have been sequenced and their expression analyzed. The first two genes, cpb1 and cpb2, differ significantly from the remaining 17 copies (cpb3-cpb19) in that: 1) they are expressed predominantly in metacyclic promastigotes (the form in the insect vector which is infective to mammalian macrophages) rather than amastigotes (the form that parasitizes mammals); 2) they encode enzymes with a truncation in the COOH-terminal extension, an unusual feature of these cysteine proteinases of trypanosomatids. Transfection of cpb1 into a cpb null mutant resulted in expression of an active enzyme that was shown by immunogold labeling with anti-CPB antibodies to be targeted to large lysosomes. This demonstrates that the 100-amino acid COOH-terminal extension is not essential for the activation or activity of the enzyme or for its correct intracellular trafficking. Transfection into the cpb null mutant of different copies of cpb and analysis of the phenotype of the lines showed that individual isoenzymes differ in their substrate preferences and ability to restore the loss of virulence associated with the null mutant. Comparison of the predicted amino acid sequences of the isoenzymes implicates five residues located in the mature domain (Asn18, Asp60, Asn61, Ser64, and Tyr84) with differences in the activities of the encoded isoenzymes. The results suggest that the individual isoenzymes have distinct roles in the parasite's interaction with its host. This complexity reflects the adaptation of cathepsin L-like cysteine proteinases to diverse functions in parasitic protozoa.[1]


  1. The multiple cpb cysteine proteinase genes of Leishmania mexicana encode isoenzymes that differ in their stage regulation and substrate preferences. Mottram, J.C., Frame, M.J., Brooks, D.R., Tetley, L., Hutchison, J.E., Souza, A.E., Coombs, G.H. J. Biol. Chem. (1997) [Pubmed]
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