by Hitoshi Tsujimoto, Michail Kotsyfakis, Ivo M. B. Francischetti, Jai Hoon Eum, Michael R. Strand, Donald E. Champagne
Black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) feed on blood, and are important vectors of Onchocerca volvulus, the etiolytic agent of River Blindness. Blood feeding depends on pharmacological properties of saliva, including anticoagulation, but the molecules responsible for this activity have not been well characterized. Methodology/Principal Findings
Two Kunitz family proteins, SV-66 and SV-170, were identified in the sialome of the black fly Simulium vittatum. As Kunitz proteins are inhibitors of serine proteases, we hypothesized that SV-66 and/or -170 were involved in the anticoagulant activity of black fly saliva. Our results indicated that recombinant (r) SV-66 but not rSV-170 inhibited plasma coagulation. Mutational analysis suggested that SV-66 is a canonical BPTI-like inhibitor. Functional assays indicated that rSV66 reduced the activity of ten serine proteases, including several involved in mammalian coagulation. rSV-66 most strongly inhibited the activity of Factor Xa, elastase, and cathepsin G, exhibited lesser inhibitory activity against Factor IXa, Factor XIa, and plasmin, and exhibited no activity against Factor XIIa and thrombin. Surface plasmon resonance studies indicated that rSV-66 bound with highest affinity to elastase (KD?=?0.4 nM) and to the active site of FXa (KD?=?3.07 nM). We propose the name “Simukunin” for this novel protein. Conclusions
We conclude that Simukunin preferentially inhibits Factor Xa. The inhibition of elastase and cathepsin G further suggests this protein may modulate inflammation, which could potentially affect pathogen transmission.