Crystal structure of Brugia malayi venom allergen-like protein-1 (BmVAL-1), a vaccine candidate for lymphatic filariasis

Darwiche, Rabih; Lugo, Fernanda; Drurey, Claire; Varossieau, Koen; Smant, Geert; Wilbers, Ruud H.P.; Maizels, Rick M.; Schneiter, Roger; Asojo, Oluwatoyin A.


Brugia malayi is a causative agent of lymphatic filariasis, a major tropical disease. The infective L3 parasite stage releases immunomodulatory proteins including the venom allergen-like proteins (VALs), which are members of the SCP/TAPS (Sperm-coating protein/Tpx/antigen 5/pathogenesis related-1/Sc7) superfamily. BmVAL-1 is a major target of host immunity with >90% of infected B. malayi microfilaraemic cases being seropositive for antibodies to BmVAL-1. This study is part of ongoing efforts to characterize the structures and functions of important B. malayi proteins. Recombinant BmVAL-1 was produced using a plant expression system, crystallized and the structure was solved by molecular replacement and refined to 2.1 Å, revealing the characteristic alpha/beta/alpha sandwich topology of eukaryotic SCP/TAPS proteins. The protein has more than 45% loop regions and these flexible loops connect the helices and strands, which are longer than predicted based on other parasite SCP/TAPS protein structures. The large central cavity of BmVAL-1 is a prototypical CRISP cavity with two histidines required to bind divalent cations. The caveolin-binding motif (CBM) that mediates sterol binding in SCP/TAPS proteins is large and open in BmVAL-1 and is N-glycosylated. N-glycosylation of the CBM does not affect the ability of BmVAL-1 to bind sterol in vitro. BmVAL-1 complements the in vivo sterol export phenotype of yeast mutants lacking their endogenous SCP/TAPS proteins. The in vitro sterol-binding affinity of BmVAL-1 is comparable with Pry1, a yeast sterol transporting SCP/TAPS protein. Sterol binding of BmVAL-1 is dependent on divalent cations. BmVAL-1 also has a large open palmitate-binding cavity, which binds palmitate comparably to tablysin-15, a lipid-binding SCP/TAPS protein. The central cavity, CBM and palmitatebinding cavity of BmVAL-1 are interconnected within the monomer with channels that can serve as pathways for water molecules, cations and small molecules.