Martín Cancela

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Pôrto de São Francisco dos Casaes, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

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Publications (10)29.3 Total impact

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    Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 03/2011; 176(1):68. · 2.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The temporal expression and secretion of distinct members of a family of virulence-associated cathepsin L cysteine peptidases (FhCL) correlates with the entry and migration of the helminth pathogen Fasciola hepatica in the host. Thus, infective larvae traversing the gut wall secrete cathepsin L3 (FhCL3), liver migrating juvenile parasites secrete both FhCL1 and FhCL2 while the mature bile duct parasites, which are obligate blood feeders, secrete predominantly FhCL1 but also FhCL2. Here we show that FhCL1, FhCL2 and FhCL3 exhibit differences in their kinetic parameters towards a range of peptide substrates. Uniquely, FhCL2 and FhCL3 readily cleave substrates with Pro in the P2 position and peptide substrates mimicking the repeating Gly-Pro-Xaa motifs that occur within the primary sequence of collagen. FhCL1, FhCL2 and FhCL3 hydrolysed native type I and II collagen at neutral pH but while FhCL1 cleaved only non-collagenous (NC, non-Gly-X-Y) domains FhCL2 and FhCL3 exhibited collagenase activity by cleaving at multiple sites within the α1 and α2 triple helix regions (Col domains). Molecular simulations created for FhCL1, FhCL2 and FhCL3 complexed to various seven-residue peptides supports the idea that Trp67 and Tyr67 in the S2 subsite of the active sites of FhCL3 and FhCL2, respectively, are critical to conferring the unique collagenase-like activity to these enzymes by accommodating either Gly or Pro residues at P2 in the substrate. The data also suggests that FhCL3 accommodates hydroxyproline (Hyp)-Gly at P3-P2 better than FhCL2 explaining the observed greater ability of FhCL3 to digest type I and II collagens compared to FhCL2 and why these enzymes cleave at different positions within the Col domains. These studies further our understanding of how this helminth parasite regulates peptidase expression to ensure infection, migration and establishment in host tissues.
    PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 01/2011; 5(4):e1012. · 4.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The common liver fluke Fasciola hepatica is the agent of a zoonosis with significant economic consequences in livestock production worldwide, and increasing relevance to human health in developing countries. Although flukicidal drugs are available, re-infection and emerging resistance are demanding new efficient and inexpensive control strategies. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the host-parasite interaction provide relevant clues in this search, while enlightening the physiological adaptations to parasitism. Genomics and transcriptomics are still in their infancy in F. hepatica, with very scarce information available from the invasive newly excysted juveniles (NEJ). Here we provide an initial glimpse to the transcriptomics of the NEJ, the first stage to interact with the mammalian host. We catalogued more than 500 clusters generated from the analysis of F. hepatica juvenile expressed sequence tags (EST), several of them not detected in the adult stage. A set of putative F. hepatica specific transcripts, and a group of sequences conserved exclusively in flatworms were identified. These novel sequences along with a set of parasite transcripts absent in the host genomes are putative new targets for future anti-parasitic drugs or vaccine development. Comparisons of the F. hepatica sequences with other metazoans genomes or EST databases were consistent with the basal positioning of flatworms in the bilaterian phylogeny. Notably, GC content, codon usage and amino acid frequencies are remarkably different in Schistosomes to F. hepatica and other trematodes. Functional annotation of predicted proteins showed a general representation of diverse biological functions. Besides proteases and antioxidant enzymes expected to participate in the early interaction with the host, various proteins involved in gene expression, protein synthesis, cell signaling and mitochondrial enzymes were identified. Differential expression of secreted protease gene family members between juvenile and adult stages may respond to different needs during host colonization. The knowledge of the genes expressed by the invasive stage of Fasciola hepatica is a starting point to unravel key aspects of this parasite's biology. The integration of the emerging transcriptomics, and proteomics data and the advent of functional genomics tools in this organism are positioning F. hepatica as an interesting model for trematode biology.
    BMC Genomics 04/2010; 11:227. · 4.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Secreted cysteine proteases are major players in host-parasite interactions; in Fasciola hepatica, a distinct group of cathepsins L was found to be predominantly expressed in the juvenile stages, but their enzymatic properties were unknown. Cathepsin L3 (FhCL3) is a main component of the juvenile secretory products and may participate in invasion. To characterize the biochemical properties, the proenzyme was expressed in the methylotrophic yeast Hansenula polymorpha and the mature enzyme was obtained from the culture medium. FhCL3 exhibited optimal activity and stability at neutral pH and a noticeable restricted substrate specificity with 70-fold preference for Tos-Gly-Pro-Arg-AMC over typical cathepsin substrates with hydrophobic or aliphatic residues in the S2 position. Accordingly, FhCL3 efficiently cleaved type I collagen over different pH and temperature conditions, but it did not cleave immunoglobulin. While most cathepsin cysteine proteinases are unable to digest collagen, mammalian cathepsin K, adult F. hepatica FhCL2 and the plant zingipain can also cleave collagen and substrates with Pro in P2 position, but only FhCL3 and zingipain hydrolyze these substrates with the highest efficiency. Molecular modeling and structural comparisons of the collagen cleaving cathepsins indicated that the strong substrate selectivity observed might be due to steric restrictions imposed by bulky aromatic residues at the S2-S3 subsites. The remarkable similarities of the active site clefts highlight the evolutive constrains acting on enzyme function. The presence of a collagen cleaving enzyme in F. hepatica juvenile stages is suggestive of a role in tissue invasion, an essential feature for the establishment of the parasites in their host.
    Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 05/2009; 167(1):41-7. · 2.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Schistosoma mansoni leucine aminopeptidase (LAP) is thought to play a central role in hatching of the miracidium from the schistosome egg. We identified two discrete LAPs genes in the S. mansoni genome, and their orthologs in S. japonicum. The similarities in sequence and exon/intron structure of the two genes, LAP1 and LAP2, suggest that they arose by gene duplication and that this occurred before separation of the mansoni and japonicum lineages. The SmLAP1 and SmLAP2 genes have different expression patterns in diverse stages of the cycle; whereas both are equally expressed in the blood dwelling stages (schistosomules and adult), SmLAP2 expression was higher in free living larval (miracidia) and in parasitic intra-snail (sporocysts) stages. We investigated the role of each enzyme in hatching of schistosome eggs and the early stages of schistosome development by RNA interference (RNAi). Using RNAi, we observed marked and specific reduction of mRNAs, along with a loss of exopeptidase activity in soluble parasite extracts against the diagnostic substrate l-leucine-7-amido-4-methylcoumarin hydroxide. Strikingly, knockdown of either SmLAP1 or SmLAP2, or both together, was accompanied by >or=80% inhibition of hatching of schistosome eggs showing that both enzymes are important to the escape of miracidia from the egg. The methods employed here refine the utility of RNAi for functional genomics studies in helminth parasites and confirm these can be used to identify potential drug targets, in this case schistosome aminopeptidases.
    Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 05/2009; 167(2):118-26. · 2.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Secreted cysteine proteases are relevant actors in parasite biology, taking part in critical host colonization roles such as traversing tissue barriers, immune evasion and nutrient digestion. In the trematode Fasciola hepatica, the initial step to successful infection of the mammalian host is the excystment of metacercariae and the invasion through the intestinal wall by the newly excysted juveniles (NEJ). While the cathepsin L-like cysteine proteinases secreted by the adult fluke have been extensively characterized, the cataloguing and description of the cathepsins B and L reported in the invasive stages is only sketchy. To identify the cathepsins expressed during excystment and early invasion we constructed cDNA libraries encoding NEJ cathepsins B and L. We found two cathepsin L-like cysteine proteinases (CL3, CL4) and three cathepsins B (CB1, CB2, CB3) which are predominantly expressed in NEJ. Phylogenetic analysis showed that NEJ-expressed cathepsins L constitute a well-defined clade separate from the adult enzymes. Excystment induction resulted in a significant increment in activity towards cathepsin-specific fluorogenic substrates in metacercariae homogenates, consistent with the detection of precursor and mature forms of cathepsins B and L before and after induction. In NEJ culture supernatants, protein and relative activity profiles show subtle changes during the first 48 h, with prevalence of cathepsin L-like activity, although cathepsins CB3 and CL3 were detected by mass spectrometry. Noticeably, the hydrolysis of a substrate with proline in the P2 position was predominant, a property only shared with adult CL2 and vertebrate cathepsin K among the C1A subfamily of cysteine proteases. Collectively these mRNA, protein and enzymatic data demonstrate the existence of a NEJ-specific repertoire of cathepsins expressed early in invasion, distinct to those used by other trematodes, potentially relevant for specific vaccine and chemotherapy design. The diversity of proteases employed by trematodes in the invasion process is discussed.
    Biochimie 07/2008; 90(10):1461-75. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Leucyl aminopeptidases (LAP) from different parasitic organisms are attracting attention as relevant players in parasite biology, and consequently being considered as candidates for drug and vaccine design. In fact, the highest protection level achieved in ruminant immunization by a native antigen was previously reported by us, using a purified LAP as immunogen in a sheep trial against fasciolosis. Here, we report the cloning of a full-length cDNA from adult F. hepatica encoding a member of the M17 family of LAP (FhLAP) and functional expression and characterization of the corresponding enzyme. FhLAP was closely related to Schistosoma LAPs, but interestingly distant from their mammalian host's homologues, and was expressed in all stages of the parasite life cycle. The recombinant enzyme, functionally expressed in Escherichia coli, showed a marked amidolytic preference against the synthetic aminopeptidase substrate l-leucine-7-amino-4-methylcoumarin (Leu-AMC) and was also active against Cys-AMC and Met-AMC. Both native and recombinant enzyme were stimulated by the addition of divalent cations predominantly Mn(2+), and strongly inhibited by bestatin and cysteine. Physico-chemical properties, localization by immunoelectron microscopy, MALDI-TOF analysis, and cross-reactivity of anti-rFhLAP immune serum demonstrated that the recombinant enzyme was identical to the previously purified gut-associated LAP from adult F. hepatica. Vaccination trials using rFhLAP for rabbit immunization showed a strong IgG response and a highly significant level of protection after experimental infection with F. hepatica metacercariae, confirming that FhLAP is a relevant candidate for vaccine development.
    Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 04/2008; 158(1):52-64. · 2.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The growing availability of sequence information from diverse parasites through genomic and transcriptomic projects offer new opportunities for the identification of key mediators in the parasite-host interaction. Functional genomics approaches and methods for the manipulation of genes are essential tools for deciphering the roles of genes and to identify new intervention targets in parasites. Exciting advances in functional genomics for parasitic helminths are starting to occur, with transgene expression and RNA interference (RNAi) reported in several species of nematodes, but the area is still in its infancy in flatworms, with reports in just three species. While advancing in model organisms, there is a need to rapidly extend these technologies to other parasites responsible for several chronic diseases of humans and cattle. In order to extend these approaches to less well studied parasitic worms, we developed a test method for the presence of a viable RNAi pathway by silencing the exogenous reporter gene, firefly luciferase (fLUC). We established the method in the human blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni and then confirmed its utility in the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica. We transformed newly excysted juveniles of F. hepatica by electroporation with mRNA of fLUC and three hours later were able to detect luciferase enzyme activity, concentrated mainly in the digestive ceca. Subsequently, we tested the presence of an active RNAi pathway in F. hepatica by knocking down the exogenous luciferase activity by introduction into the transformed parasites of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) specific for fLUC. In addition, we tested the RNAi pathway targeting an endogenous F. hepatica gene encoding leucine aminopeptidase (FhLAP), and observed a significant reduction in specific mRNA levels. In summary, these studies demonstrated the utility of RNAi targeting reporter fLUC as a reporter gene assay to establish the presence of an intact RNAi pathway in helminth parasites. These could facilitate the study of gene function and the identification of relevant targets for intervention in organisms that are by other means intractable. More specifically, these results open new perspectives for functional genomics of F. hepatica, which hopefully can lead to the development of new interventions for fascioliasis.
    PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 02/2008; 2(7):e260. · 4.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Expression of Tk antigen, a truncated carbohydrate antigen, was examined in helmith parasites. Using the monoclonal antibody LM389, this antigen was detected in extracts from Taenia hydatigena, Mesocestoides vogae (syn corti), and Taenia crassiceps. No reactivity was observed in Thysanosoma spp., Dipylidium caninum, Fasciola hepatica, and Nyppostrongylus brasiliensis. On the basis of their electrophoretic mobility, different patterns of Tk-bearing glycoproteins were observed among T. hydatigena, M. corti and T. crassiceps by immunoblotting, with certain components resolved as broad bands typical of mucin-like glycoproteins. Most Tk-reactive material remained in the 0.6 N perchloric acid-soluble fraction, confirming that Tk epitopes are carried by mucin-type glycoproteins. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that in T. hydatigena, Tk antigen is mainly expressed in the tegument, whereas in M. corti the reactivity was principally observed in the subtegumental parenchyma. The presence of a novel tumor-associated carbohydrate antigen in invertebrates, contributes to strengthen the notion that truncated mucin-type O-glycosylation is a normal phenomenon in parasitic worms and may help identify new biological characteristics of helminth parasites.
    Experimental Parasitology 07/2007; 116(2):129-36. · 1.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Paramyosin, a vaccine candidate in different helminthiases, was purified from the adult liver fluke Fasciola hepatica using two different procedures. The first started with a crude extraction of paramyosin in high-salt buffer followed by gel filtration chromatography and two precipitation-solubilization cycles; in the second, anion exchange chromatography replaced the gel filtration step. In both cases, the apparent molecular weight of the purified protein determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate gel electrophoresis under reducing and non-reducing conditions was 97 kDa and 200 kDa, respectively. The molecular weights were consistent with the presence of a dimeric protein linked by disulfide bridges. Western blot analysis showed that the dimeric and monomeric forms were both recognized by an antiserum raised against the F. hepatica 97 kDa band (alpha-FhPmy), and by an anti- Schistosoma mansoni paramyosin immune serum. Immunohistochemistry using alpha-FhPmy demonstrated the localization of paramyosin within the subtegumental muscle and in muscle cells surrounding the gut of adult parasites. We also observed labeling of extramuscular structures like testes, surface lamellae of the gut and the tegument of adult flukes.
    Parasitology Research 05/2004; 92(6):441-8. · 2.33 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

224 Citations
29.30 Total Impact Points


  • 2009–2011
    • Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
      • Departamento de Biologia Molecular e Biotecnologia
      Pôrto de São Francisco dos Casaes, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • 2008–2011
    • University of the Republic, Uruguay
      • • Departamento de Genetica
      • • Departamento de Geomática
      Montevideo, Departamento de Montevideo, Uruguay
    • Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans
      New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
    • Universidad de la República Mexicana
      General Escobedo, Nuevo León, Mexico
  • 2004–2007
    • Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario
      Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina