Pneumocystis species are opportunistic fungal pathogens that cause severe pneumonia in immunocompromised hosts. Recent evidence has suggested that unidentified proteases are involved in Pneumocystis life cycle regulation. Proteolytically active ADAM (named for "a disintegrin and metalloprotease") family molecules have been identified in some fungal organisms, such as Aspergillus fumigatus and Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and some have been shown to participate in life cycle regulation. Accordingly, we sought to characterize ADAM-like molecules in the fungal opportunistic pathogen, Pneumocystis carinii (PcADAM). After an in silico search of the P. carinii genomic sequencing project identified a 329-bp partial sequence with homology to known ADAM proteins, the full-length PcADAM sequence was obtained by PCR extension cloning, yielding a final coding sequence of 1,650 bp. Sequence analysis detected the presence of a typical ADAM catalytic active site (HEXXHXXGXXHD). Expression of PcADAM over the Pneumocystis life cycle was analyzed by Northern blot. Southern and contour-clamped homogenous electronic field blot analysis demonstrated its presence in the P. carinii genome. Expression of PcADAM was observed to be increased in Pneumocystis cysts compared to trophic forms. The full-length gene was subsequently cloned and heterologously expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Purified PcADAMp protein was proteolytically active in casein zymography, requiring divalent zinc. Furthermore, native PcADAMp extracted directly from freshly isolated Pneumocystis organisms also exhibited protease activity. This is the first report of protease activity attributable to a specific, characterized protein in the clinically important opportunistic fungal pathogen Pneumocystis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases