Functional Glycosylphosphatidylinositol Anchor Signal Sequences in thePneumocystis cariniiPRT1 Protease Family

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Pneumocystis carinii is fungus which is a frequent cause of severe pneumonia in immunocompromised individuals. The P. carinii genome contains the PRT1 subtelomeric multigene family that encodes a kexin-like serine protease which is expressed on the surface of P. carinii. Analysis of the sequence of the carboxy-terminal sequence of many copies of PRT1 showed that they contained motifs characteristic of a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor signal sequence. The ability of the C-terminal sequences of PRT1 to direct the addition of a GPI anchor was tested. CD14, a GPI-anchored monocyte glycoprotein antigen, was used as the basis of a heterologous system. CD14 was truncated to remove the carboxy-terminal sequences responsible for GPI-anchor addition. Addition of carboxy-terminal sequences from PRT1 restored high-level surface expression to the truncated CD14. Further, the majority of CD14-PRT1 recombinant protein was removed from the cell membrane by treatment with GPI-specific phospholipase C. These results suggest that the carboxy-terminal residues of most of the members of the PRT1 family of proteases have the potential to form a functional GPI-attachment signal.

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