Comparative Analysis of Cystatin Superfamily in Platyhelminths
The cystatin superfamily is comprised of cysteine proteinase inhibitors and encompasses at least 3 subfamilies: stefins, cystatins and kininogens. In this study, the platyhelminth cystatin superfamily was identified and grouped into stefin and cystatin subfamilies. The conserved domain of stefins (G, QxVxG) was observed in all members of platyhelminth stefins. The three characteristics of cystatins, the cystatin-like domain (G, QxVxG, PW), a signal peptide, and one or two conserved disulfide bonds, were observed in platyhelminths, with the exception of cestodes, which lacked the conserved disulfide bond. However, it is noteworthy that cestode cystatins had two tandem repeated domains, although the second tandem repeated domain did not contain a cystatin-like domain, which has not been previously reported. Tertiary structure analysis of Taenia solium cystatin, one of the cestode cystatins, demonstrated that the N-terminus of T. solium cystatin formed a five turn α-helix, a five stranded β-pleated sheet and a hydrophobic edge, similar to the structure of chicken cystatin. Although no conserved disulfide bond was found in T. solium cystatin, the models of T. solium cystatin and chicken cystatin corresponded at the site of the first disulfide bridge of the chicken cystatin. However, the two models were not similar regarding the location of the second disulfide bridge of chicken cystatin. These results showed that T. solium cystatin and chicken cystatin had similarities and differences, suggesting that the biochemistry of T. solium cystatin could be similar to chicken cystatin in its inhibitory function and that it may have further functional roles. The same results were obtained for other cestode cystatins. Phylogenetic analysis showed that cestode cystatins constituted an independent clade and implied that cestode cystatins should be considered to have formed a new clade during evolution.