Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 10932226
Nat. Med. 2000 Aug;6(8):890-7
Lymphocyte polyclonal activation is a generalized mechanism of immune evasion among pathogens. In a mouse model of Trypanosoma cruzi infection (American trypanosomiasis), reduced levels of polyclonal lymphocyte responses correlate with resistance to infection and cardiopathy. We report here the characterization of a parasite protein with B-cell mitogenic properties in culture supernatants of infective forms, the cloning of the corresponding gene and the analysis of the biological properties of its product. We characterized the protein as a co-factor-independent proline racemase, and show that its expression as a cytoplasmic and/or membrane-associated protein is life-stage specific. Inhibition studies indicate that availability of the racemase active site is necessary for mitogenic activity. This is the first report to our knowledge of a eukaryotic amino acid racemase gene. Our findings have potential consequences for the development of new immune therapies and drug design against pathogens.