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Molecular Basis for Genetic Resistance of Anopheles gambiae to Plasmodium: Structural Analysis of TEP1 Susceptible and Resistant Alleles

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posted on 04.10.2012, 02:37 by Binh V. Le, Marni Williams, Shankar Logarajah, Richard H. G. Baxter

Thioester-containing protein 1 (TEP1) is a central component in the innate immune response of Anopheles gambiae to Plasmodium infection. Two classes of TEP1 alleles, TEP1*S and TEP1*R, are found in both laboratory strains and wild isolates, related by a greater or lesser susceptibility, respectively to both P. berghei and P. falciparum infection. We report the crystal structure of the full-length TEP1*S1 allele which, while similar to the previously determined structure of full-length TEP1*R1, displays flexibility in the N-terminal fragment comprising domains MG1-MG6. Amino acid differences between TEP1*R1 and TEP1*S1 are localized to the TED-MG8 domain interface that protects the thioester bond from hydrolysis and structural changes are apparent at this interface. As a consequence cleaved TEP1*S1 (TEP1*S1cut) is significantly more susceptible to hydrolysis of its intramolecular thioester bond than TEP1*R1cut. TEP1*S1cut is stabilized in solution by the heterodimeric LRIM1/APL1C complex, which preserves the thioester bond within TEP1*S1cut. These results suggest a mechanism by which selective pressure on the TEP1 gene results in functional variation that may influence the vector competence of A. gambiae towards Plasmodium infection.