Developmental expression of a tandemly repeated, glycine- and serine-rich spore wall protein in the microsporidian pathogen Encephalitozoon cuniculi.
Bohne W., Ferguson DJ., Kohler K., Gross U.
Microsporidia are intracellular organisms of increasing importance as opportunistic pathogens in immunocompromised patients. Host cells are infected by the extrusion and injection of polar tubes located within spores. The spore is surrounded by a rigid spore wall which, in addition to providing mechanical resistance, might be involved in host cell recognition and initiation of the infection process. A 51-kDa outer spore wall protein was identified in Encephalitozoon cuniculi with the aid of a monoclonal antibody, and the corresponding gene, SWP1, was cloned by immunoscreening of a cDNA expression library. The cDNA encodes a protein of 450 amino acids which displays no significant similarities to known proteins in databases. The carboxy-terminal region consists of five tandemly arranged glycine- and serine-rich repetitive elements. SWP1 is a single-copy gene that is also present in the genomes of Encephalitozoon intestinalis and Encephalitozoon hellem as demonstrated by Southern analysis. Indirect immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy revealed that SWP1 is differentially expressed during the infection cycle. The protein is absent in replicative meronts until 24 h postinfection, and its expression is first induced in early sporonts at a time when organisms translocate from the periphery to the center of the parasitophorous vacuole. Expression of SWP1 appears to be regulated at the mRNA level, as was shown by reverse transcriptase PCR analysis. Further identification and characterization of stage-specific genes might help to unravel the complex intracellular differentiation process of microsporidia.