On proteins of the microsporidian invasive apparatus: complete sequence of a polar tube protein of Encephalitozoon cuniculi.
The microsporidian Encephalitozoon cuniculi is an obligate intracellular parasite that can cause opportunistic infections in AIDS patients. Spore invasion of host cells involves extrusion of a polar tube. After immunocytochemical identification of several polar tube proteins (PTPs) in E. cuniculi, a major PTP was isolated from two-dimensional gels and two peptide fragments were sequenced. The complete nucleotide sequence of the corresponding gene was obtained using a combination of PCR amplification and cloning techniques. The gene exists as a single copy per haploid genome and encodes an acidic proline-rich protein, with a deduced molecular mass of 37 kDa, that contains four tandemly arranged 26-amino-acid repeats. An N-terminal region of 22 residues represents a cleaved signal peptide, probably involved in the targeting of the PTP. No similarity with known proteins has been found. The protein was expressed in Escherichia coli, purified and injected into mice. The antisera reacted specifically with the polar tube in indirect immunofluorescence assays and electron microscope immunocytochemistry. Further identification of conserved and variable PTP structural motifs should be useful for diagnostic purposes and new therapeutic strategies.