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PAGES: 96-101 DOI: 10.1590/0074-02760170179 Full paper
Alternative splicing originates different domain structure organization of Lutzomyia longipalpis chitinases

João Ramalho Ortigão-Farias, Tatiana Di-Blasi, Erich Loza Telleria, Ana Carolina Andorinho, Thais Lemos-Silva, Marcelo Ramalho-Ortigão, Antônio Jorge Tempone, Yara Maria Traub-Csekö+

Fundação Oswaldo Cruz-Fiocruz, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Laboratório de Biologia Molecular de Parasitos e Vetores, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil


BACKGROUND The insect chitinase gene family is composed by more than 10 paralogs, which can codify proteins with different domain structures. In Lutzomyia longipalpis, the main vector of visceral leishmaniasis in Brazil, a chitinase cDNA from adult female insects was previously characterized. The predicted protein contains one catalytic domain and one chitin-binding domain (CBD). The expression of this gene coincided with the end of blood digestion indicating a putative role in peritrophic matrix degradation.

OBJECTIVES To determine the occurrence of alternative splicing in chitinases of L. longipalpis.

METHODS We sequenced the LlChit1 gene from a genomic clone and the three spliced forms obtained by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using larvae cDNA.

FINDINGS We showed that LlChit1 from L. longipalpis immature forms undergoes alternative splicing. The spliced form corresponding to the adult cDNA was named LlChit1A and the two larvae specific transcripts were named LlChit1B and LlChit1C. The B and C forms possess stop codons interrupting the translation of the CBD. The A form is present in adult females post blood meal, L4 larvae and pre-pupae, while the other two forms are present only in L4 larvae and disappear just before pupation. Two bands of the expected size were identified by Western blot only in L4 larvae.

MAIN CONCLUSIONS We show for the first time alternative splicing generating chitinases with different domain structures increasing our understanding on the finely regulated digestion physiology and shedding light on a potential target for controlling L. longipalpis larval development.

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Received 5 May 2017
Accepted 10 August 2017