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Cloning, disruption and characterisation of Aspergillus fumigatus allergen proteases and their effect on airway epithelial cells

The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
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  • Allergens
  • Proteases
  • Aspergillus Fumigatus
  • Airway Epithelium
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Allergen proteases from a number sources including the filamentous fungus A. fumigatus, are thought to be important in the development of severe asthma through protease dependent interactions with the respiratory epithelium. The first aim of the thesis was to determine the effect of a variety of growth substrates on the secretion of proteases from different strains of A. fumigatus. The second aim was to investigate the effects of recombinant allergen proteases Asp f 5 and Asp f 13 expressed in the P. pastoris protein expression system and crude A. fumigatus culture supernatants on airway epithelial cells and determine whether protease induced interleukin 8 (IL-8) release from airway epithelial cells was dependent on the activation of protease activated receptor 2 (PAR-2).Results demonstrated that the AF293 strain of A. fumigatus secreted serine proteases during growth on pig lung homogenate medium and metalloproteases during growth on a casein based medium but suppressed protease secretion in Vogel’s minimal medium. Analysis of the secretion and RNA levels of proteases in A. fumigatus showed that the matrix metalloprotease, Asp f 5 and the serine protease, Asp f 13 were up-regulated and secreted during growth in pig lung medium and that the matrix metalloprotease, Lap1 was up-regulated and secreted along with Asp f 5 and Asp f 13 in casein medium. This finding was confirmed using protease inhibitors and by using strains of A. fumigatus in which Asp f 5 and Asp f 13 genes were disrupted. These results suggest that A. fumigatus was able to detect different complex proteins available as substrates in it’s environment and regulate protease secretion accordingly. Furthermore, in several strains of A. fumigatus, protease activity was not suppressed by growth in Vogel’s medium, suggesting differences in the regulation of protease secretion between strains. Both A. fumigatus culture supernatants and recombinant Asp f 5 and Asp f 13 produced in P. pastoris caused epithelial airway cell desquamination, and IL-8 release in a protease and dose-dependent manner. In addition, both recombinant Asp f 5 and Asp f 13 were both shown to cleave PAR-2 at a site that resulted in receptor activation.In conclusion, differences in the secretion of proteases between A. fumigatus strains and during growth of A. fumigatus on different media suggests a requirement for the standardisation of the preparation of A. fumigatus allergen extracts used both in clinical diagnosis of A. fumigatus allergy and in vitro and in vivo research studies. Furthermore, it is proposed that allergen proteases secreted by A. fumigatus may interact with a variety of host proteins including, matrix molecules, enzymes and receptors which may exacerbate allergic airway diseases.

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