Platyhelminth venom allergen-like (VAL) proteins: revealing structural diversity, class specific features and biological associations across the phylum

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1231-1245
Number of pages15
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 02 May 2012
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SUMMARY During platyhelminth infection, a cocktail of proteins is released by the parasite to aid invasion, initiate feeding, facilitate adaptation and mediate modulation of the host immune response. Included amongst these proteins is the Venom Allergen-Like (VAL) family, part of the larger sperm coating protein/Tpx-1/Ag5/PR-1/Sc7 (SCP/TAPS) superfamily. To explore the significance of this protein family during Platyhelminthes development and host interactions, we systematically summarize all published proteomic, genomic and immunological investigations of the VAL protein family to date. By conducting new genomic and transcriptomic interrogations to identify over 200 VAL proteins (228) from species in all 4 traditional taxonomic classes (Trematoda, Cestoda, Monogenea and Turbellaria), we further expand our knowledge related to platyhelminth VAL diversity across the phylum. Subsequent phylogenetic and tertiary structural analyses reveal several class-specific VAL features, which likely indicate a range of roles mediated by this protein family. Our comprehensive analysis of platyhelminth VALs represents a unifying synopsis for understanding diversity within this protein family and a firm context in which to initiate future functional characterization of these enigmatic members.