Alternative splicing creates sex-specific transcripts and truncated forms of the furin protease in the parasite Dirofilaria immitis

Molecular Parasitology Division, New England Biolabs Inc., Beverly, MA 01915, USA.
Gene (Impact Factor: 2.14). 10/1999; 237(1):161-75. DOI: 10.1016/S0378-1119(99)00282-6
Source: PubMed


Many extracellular proteins are activated by specific cleavage with an endoprotease. In nematodes, several proteins are cleaved after RX(K/R)R, the recognition site for the subtilisin-like proprotein convertases, furin and blisterase. To characterize furin in the parasitic nematode Dirofilaria immitis, we determined the sequence of the difur gene and its multiple transcripts. The gene spans 11 kb; encodes 16 exons and has a complex pattern of alternative splicing which generates at least 16 distinct mRNAs. The major transcript is a 4.4 kb mRNA which codes for a protein of 834 aa with an unusually long prodomain of 254 aa. Sex-specific splice variants of difur were observed by RT-PCR. The three female-specific and five male-specific transcripts are the first reported examples of sex-specific splicing in parasitic nematodes. This suggests that nematodes have sex-specific factors which regulate RNA splicing. Other splice variants are predicted to alter the phosphorylation and localization of the protease. Alternative splicing after the prodomain encodes a truncated protein that may be an inhibitor and/or substrate of Difurin.

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    • "In contrast, examples of AS are only scarcely reported in the parasitic nematodes. The fur gene of Dirofilaria immitis [7] and the glutathione S-transferase 3 gene of Onchocerca volvulus [8] are among the few examples of alternatively spliced genes identified in animal-parasitic nematodes. However, studies on the functional consequences of AS are still lacking in this group of nematodes. "
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