The microsporidian polar tube: evidence for a third polar tube protein (PTP3) in Encephalitozoon cuniculi

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2002 Jun;122(1):69-80. doi: 10.1016/s0166-6851(02)00073-7.


The invasion strategy used by microsporidia is primarily related to spore germination. Small differentiated spores of these fungi-related parasites inject their contents into target cells through the lumen of a rapidly extruded polar tube, as a prerequisite to obligate intracellular development. Previous studies in Encephalitozoon species that infect mammals have identified two major antigenic polar tube proteins (PTP1 and PTP2) which are predicted to contribute to the high tensile strength of the polar tube via an assembly process dependent on disulfide linkages. By immunoscreening of a cDNA library, we found that a novel PTP is encoded by a single transcription unit (3990 bp) located on the chromosome XI of E. cuniculi. PTP3 is predicted to be synthesized as a 1256-amino acid precursor with a cleavable signal peptide. The mature protein lacks cysteine residue and its large acidic core is flanked by highly basic N- and C-terminal regions. Immunolocalization data indicated that PTP3 is involved in the sporoblast-to-spore polar tube biogenesis. A transcriptional up-regulation during sporogony is supported by a strong increase in the relative amount of Ecptp mRNAs within host cells sampled at late post-infection times. To begin to explore polar tube-associated protein interactions, spore proteins were extracted in the presence of SDS and dithiothreitol then incubated with a chemical cross-linker (DSP or sulfo-EGS). A large multimeric complex was formed and shown to contain PTP1, PTP2 and PTP3 with a few other proteins. PTP3 is hypothesized to play a role in the control of the polar tube extrusion as part of a specific response to ionic stimuli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Encephalitozoon cuniculi* / genetics
  • Encephalitozoon cuniculi* / growth & development
  • Encephalitozoon cuniculi* / immunology
  • Encephalitozoon cuniculi* / ultrastructure
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protozoan Proteins / chemistry*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / immunology
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Time Factors


  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • PTP protein, Encephalitozoon hellem
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AY089958