Indexed on: 01 May '07Published on: 01 May '07Published in: Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Lampreys are one of the most primitive vertebrates diverged some 500 million years ago. It has long been known that parasitic lampreys secrete anticoagulant from their buccal glands and prevent blood coagulation of host fishes. We found two major protein components of 160 and 26 kDa in the buccal gland secretion of parasitic river lamprey, Lethenteron japonicum. The larger protein was identified as river lamprey plasma albumin. The complete primary structure of the 26-kDa protein was determined by protein and cDNA analysis. It belonged to the cysteine-rich secretory protein (CRISP) superfamily that includes recently identified reptile venom ion-channel blockers. Lamprey CRISP blocked depolarization-induced contraction of rat-tail arterial smooth muscle, but showed no effect on caffeine-induced contraction. The result suggests that lamprey CRISP is an L-type Ca(2+)-channel blocker and may act as a vasodilator, which facilitates the parasite to feed on the host's blood. The lamprey CRISP protein contains a number of short insertions throughout the sequence, when aligned with reptilian venom CRISP proteins, probably due to the large evolutionary distance between the Agnatha and the Reptilia, and may represent a novel class of venom CRISP family proteins.