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Biological Chemistry

Editor-in-Chief: Brüne, Bernhard

Editorial Board Member: Buchner, Johannes / Ludwig, Stephan / Sies, Helmut / Turk, Boris / Wittinghofer, Alfred

12 Issues per year



Blunting the knife: development of vaccines targeting digestive proteases of blood-feeding helminth parasites

Mark S. Pearson1, 2 / Najju Ranjit3 / Alex Loukas1

1Queensland Tropical Health Alliance, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD 4878, Australia

2Institute of Immunology and Infection, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH93JT, UK

3School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

Corresponding author

Citation Information: Biological Chemistry. Volume 391, Issue 8, Pages 901–911, ISSN (Online) 1437-4315, ISSN (Print) 1431-6730, DOI: 10.1515/bc.2010.074, May 2010

Publication History

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Proteases are pivotal to parasitism, mediating biological processes crucial to worm survival including larval migration through tissue, immune evasion/modulation and nutrient acquisition by the adult parasite. In haematophagous parasites, many of these proteolytic enzymes are secreted from the intestine (nematodes) or gastrodermis (trematodes) where they act to degrade host haemoglobin and serum proteins as part of the feeding process. These proteases are exposed to components of the immune system of the host when the worms ingest blood, and therefore present targets for the development of anti-helminth vaccines. The protective effects of current vaccine antigens against nematodes that infect humans (hookworm) and livestock (barber's pole worm) are based on haemoglobin-degrading intestinal proteases and act largely as a result of the neutralisation of these proteases by antibodies that are ingested with the blood-meal. In this review, we survey the current status of helminth proteases that show promise as vaccines and describe their vital contribution to a parasitic existence.

Keywords: haemoglobin; helminth; hookworm; parasite; protease; vaccine

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