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See detailVariability and Action Mechanism of a Family of Anticomplement Proteins in Ixodes ricinus
Couvreur, Bernard; Beaufays, Jérôme ULg; Charon, Cedric et al

in PLoS ONE (2008), 3(1),

Background. Ticks are blood feeding arachnids that characteristically take a long blood meal. They must therefore counteract host defence mechanisms such as hemostasis, inflammation and the immune ... [more ▼]

Background. Ticks are blood feeding arachnids that characteristically take a long blood meal. They must therefore counteract host defence mechanisms such as hemostasis, inflammation and the immune response. This is achieved by expressing batteries of salivary proteins coded by multigene families. Methodology/Principal Findings. We report the in-depth analysis of a tick multigene family and describe five new anticomplement proteins in Ixodes ricinus. Compared to previously described Ixodes anticomplement proteins, these segregated into a new phylogenetic group or subfamily. These proteins have a novel action mechanism as they specifically bind to properdin, leading to the inhibition of C3 convertase and the alternative complement pathway. An excess of non-synonymous over synonymous changes indicated that coding sequences had undergone diversifying selection. Diversification was not associated with structural, biochemical or functional diversity, adaptation to host species or stage specificity but rather to differences in antigenicity. Conclusions/Significance. Anticomplement proteins from I. ricinus are the first inhibitors that specifically target a positive regulator of complement, properdin. They may provide new tools for the investigation of role of properdin in physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms. They may also be useful in disorders affecting the alternative complement pathway. Looking for and detecting the different selection pressures involved will help in understanding the evolution of multigene families and hematophagy in arthropods. [less ▲]

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See detailIxodes ricinus Tick Lipocalins: Identification, Cloning, Phylogenetic Analysis and Biochemical Characterization
Beaufays, Jérôme ULg; Adam, Benoit; Decrem, Yves et al

in PLoS ONE (2008), 3(12), 3941

Background: During their blood meal, ticks secrete a wide variety of proteins that interfere with their host's defense mechanisms. Among these proteins, lipocalins play a major role in the modulation of ... [more ▼]

Background: During their blood meal, ticks secrete a wide variety of proteins that interfere with their host's defense mechanisms. Among these proteins, lipocalins play a major role in the modulation of the inflammatory response. Methodology/Principal Findings: Screening a cDNA library in association with RT-PCR and RACE methodologies allowed us to identify 14 new lipocalin genes in the salivary glands of the Ixodes ricinus hard tick. A computational in-depth structural analysis confirmed that LIRs belong to the lipocalin family. These proteins were called LIR for ``Lipocalin from I. ricinus'' and numbered from 1 to 14 (LIR1 to LIR14). According to their percentage identity/similarity, LIR proteins may be assigned to 6 distinct phylogenetic groups. The mature proteins have calculated pM and pI varying from 21.8 kDa to 37.2 kDa and from 4.45 to 9.57 respectively. In a western blot analysis, all recombinant LIRs appeared as a series of thin bands at 50-70 kDa, suggesting extensive glycosylation, which was experimentally confirmed by treatment with N-glycosidase F. In addition, the in vivo expression analysis of LIRs in I. ricinus, examined by RT-PCR, showed homogeneous expression profiles for certain phylogenetic groups and relatively heterogeneous profiles for other groups. Finally, we demonstrated that LIR6 codes for a protein that specifically binds leukotriene B4. Conclusions/Significance: This work confirms that, regarding their biochemical properties, expression profile, and sequence signature, lipocalins in Ixodes hard tick genus, and more specifically in the Ixodes ricinus species, are segregated into distinct phylogenetic groups suggesting potential distinct function. This was particularly demonstrated by the ability of LIR6 to scavenge leukotriene B4. The other LIRs did not bind any of the ligands tested, such as 5-hydroxytryptamine, ADP, norepinephrine, platelet activating factor, prostaglandins D2 and E2, and finally leukotrienes B4 and C4. [less ▲]

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See detailDistantly related lipocalins share two conserved clusters of hydrophobic residues: use in homology modeling.
Adam, Benoit; Charloteaux, Benoît ULg; Beaufays, Jérôme ULg et al

in BMC structural biology (2008), 8(1-2), 1-18

BACKGROUND: Lipocalins are widely distributed in nature and are found in bacteria, plants, arthropoda and vertebra. In hematophagous arthropods, they are implicated in the successful accomplishment of the ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Lipocalins are widely distributed in nature and are found in bacteria, plants, arthropoda and vertebra. In hematophagous arthropods, they are implicated in the successful accomplishment of the blood meal, interfering with platelet aggregation, blood coagulation and inflammation and in the transmission of disease parasites such as Trypanosoma cruzi and Borrelia burgdorferi. The pairwise sequence identity is low among this family, often below 30%, despite a well conserved tertiary structure. Under the 30% identity threshold, alignment methods do not correctly assign and align proteins. The only safe way to assign a sequence to that family is by experimental determination. However, these procedures are long and costly and cannot always be applied. A way to circumvent the experimental approach is sequence and structure analyze. To further help in that task, the residues implicated in the stabilisation of the lipocalin fold were determined. This was done by analyzing the conserved interactions for ten lipocalins having a maximum pairwise identity of 28% and various functions. RESULTS: It was determined that two hydrophobic clusters of residues are conserved by analysing the ten lipocalin structures and sequences. One cluster is internal to the barrel, involving all strands and the 310 helix. The other is external, involving four strands and the helix lying parallel to the barrel surface. These clusters are also present in RaHBP2, a unusual "outlier" lipocalin from tick Rhipicephalus appendiculatus. This information was used to assess assignment of LIR2 a protein from Ixodes ricinus and to build a 3D model that helps to predict function. FTIR data support the lipocalin fold for this protein. CONCLUSION: By sequence and structural analyzes, two conserved clusters of hydrophobic residues in interactions have been identified in lipocalins. Since the residues implicated are not conserved for function, they should provide the minimal subset necessary to confer the lipocalin fold. This information has been used to assign LIR2 to lipocalins and to investigate its structure/function relationship. This study could be applied to other protein families with low pairwise similarity, such as the structurally related fatty acid binding proteins or avidins. [less ▲]

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See detailIr-LBP, an ixodes ricinus tick salivary LTB4-binding lipocalin, interferes with host neutrophil function.
Beaufays, Jérôme ULg; Adam, Benoit; Menten-Dedoyart, Catherine ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2008), 3(12), 3987

BACKGROUND: During their blood meal, ticks secrete a wide variety of proteins that can interfere with their host's defense mechanisms. Among these proteins, lipocalins play a major role in the modulation ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: During their blood meal, ticks secrete a wide variety of proteins that can interfere with their host's defense mechanisms. Among these proteins, lipocalins play a major role in the modulation of the inflammatory response. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We previously identified 14 new lipocalin genes in the tick Ixodes ricinus. One of them codes for a protein that specifically binds leukotriene B4 with a very high affinity (Kd: +/-1 nM), similar to that of the neutrophil transmembrane receptor BLT1. By in silico approaches, we modeled the 3D structure of the protein and the binding of LTB4 into the ligand pocket. This protein, called Ir-LBP, inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro and delays LTB4-induced apoptosis. Ir-LBP also inhibits the host inflammatory response in vivo by decreasing the number and activation of neutrophils located at the tick bite site. Thus, Ir-LBP participates in the tick's ability to interfere with proper neutrophil function in inflammation. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These elements suggest that Ir-LBP is a "scavenger" of LTB4, which, in combination with other factors, such as histamine-binding proteins or proteins inhibiting the classical or alternative complement pathways, permits the tick to properly manage its blood meal. Moreover, with regard to its properties, Ir-LBP could possibly be used as a therapeutic tool for illnesses associated with an increased LTB4 production. [less ▲]

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